Not all months of the year are created equal when it comes to sports excitement. Some months offer excitement for fans of almost every sport, while others are rather boring, and have a limited focus.
This list examines each month of year from the perspective of an American sports fan. In the United States, the "big six" sports leagues are the NFL, NCAA Football, MLB, NBA, NCAA Basketball and NHL.
Other sports, such as the PGA Tour, tennis, NASCAR and horse racing, are less prominent, but still significant to a decent chunk of the population. The excitement factor is certainly biased toward the events of the big six, but that should in no way imply that major events in the other sports aren't worthwhile.
They just don't create quite as much of a buzz among American sports fans at large. With that said, let's examine each month now, starting with the worst month of all...
Active sports leagues in July: MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in July: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL
Signature sporting events in July: MLB All-Star Game, PGA British Open, Wimbledon
There's a reason I've resorted to cheesy rankings and slide shows like this one lately: it's because July is the worst month of the year for sports fans.
There are three signature sporting events in July, and two of them are held in Great Britain. The only big event here in the U.S. is the MLB All-Star Game.
The two events in Great Britain include the British Open, the third of the PGA Tour's four major tournaments, and Wimbledon, which is a carryover from the end of June. Otherwise, the NFL, NBA and NHL are all dead in July, as are both major college sports.
NASCAR has some good races in July, however, such as the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. They also have another race at Daytona International Speedway to start off the month.
At least the NFL awakens from its slumber at the end of July, with the start of training camps. From the darkest hour comes the light...
Active sports leagues in June: MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in June: NFL, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball
Signature sporting events in June: MLB Draft, NBA Finals, NBA Draft, NHL Stanley Cup Finals, NHL Draft, PGA U.S. Open, French Open (tennis), Wimbledon, Belmont Stakes
June is when summer begins, people start making vacation plans, blockbuster movies premier at theaters, and the sports world enters the summer doldrums. It's also when MLB, the NBA and the NHL have their drafts.
The NBA Finals are the big event of the month, while the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals carry over from the end of May. MLB adds a little novelty and excitement to its season with interleague play. June is also when NASCAR has its first race of the season at Pocono Raceway.
Once the NBA and NHL shut down for the summer, however, the major events of the month are left to golf and tennis. The U.S. Open is the second of the four major tournaments on the PGA Tour, and Wimbledon is the third of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Both events occur near the end of the month.
Active sports leagues in August: MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in August: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL
Signature sporting events in August: PGA Championship, WGC Bridgestone Invitational, U.S. Open (tennis)
August is when the sports world finally begins to emerge from its doldrums. MLB is deep into the second half of its season, and the NFL preseason gives eager football fans a glimpse of what's to come. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game is the first live football action in six months.
Golf and tennis provide the signature sporting events of August. The PGA Championship is held in the middle of the month, and is the last of the four major tournaments on the PGA Tour.
Also, the WGC hosts the Bridgestone Invitational, its third tournament of the year. The U.S. Open tennis tournament begins near the end of the month, just before Labor Day, and is the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Overall, August is a relatively quiet month in the sports world, but the attitude is generally positive, because some of the biggest excitement is just around the corner.
Active sports leagues in February: NFL, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in February: NCAA Football, MLB
Signature sporting events in February: Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NBA All-Star Game, WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, Daytona 500
February can be a depressing month. It's still too cold to go outside, and the joy of the holidays has long passed. Making matters worse is, the NFL enters a long period of hibernation after the Super Bowl and an anticlimactic Pro Bowl, and MLB spring training has yet to begin.
But there are ways to cope. The NBA hosts its All-Star Game in February, and the NHL season is in full swing as well. NCAA Basketball enters its stretch run in preparation for the chaos of March Madness; NASCAR starts its engines with the Daytona 500, and the PGA Tour is underway as well, with matches in warm-weather climates.
The WGC also hosts its first tournament of the year: the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Basically, February is a month of two extremes: excitement in basketball, hockey and NASCAR, and despair in football and baseball.
Active sports leagues in May: MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in May: NFL, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball
Signature sporting events in May: NHL Stanley Cup Finals, French Open (tennis), NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Preakness Stakes
In May, the weather gets nicer, and playoff series in the NBA and NHL provide basketball and hockey fans with a whole month's worth of excitement. The NHL's Stanley Cup Finals typically begin near the end of the month.
May has other signature sporting events as well. The Preakness Stakes are the second race in the Triple Crown.
NASCAR hosts the Sprint All-Star Race, one of two races at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the month, plus a race at the legendary Darlington Raceway.
In tennis, the French Open is the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments, starting near the end of the month.
Elsewhere, the MLB season is well underway and swinging for the fences, and even the NFL throws football fans a bone, hosting minicamps where fans can get a good first look at some of the new players their teams have signed or drafted.
Active sports leagues in September: NFL, NCAA Football, MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in September: NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL
Signature sporting events in September: PGA Tour Championship, U.S. Open (tennis), Chase for the Sprint Cup
Scream it with me now: FOOTBALL!!!
September marks the beginning of both the NCAA and NFL football seasons, and the pent-up passion of football fans all across the country finally comes unleashed!
There are plenty of high-stakes sporting events in September as well, including MLB, the PGA Tour, tennis and NASCAR.
The MLB season enters the home stretch, with the playoffs at stake. The PGA Tour Championship is played at the end of September after a month of playoff tournaments, with one lucky winner taking home the FedEx Cup.
In tennis, the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments, the U.S. Open, ends around Labor Day, signaling the end of summer. NASCAR drivers get aggressive as the season enters the final lap, trying to earn a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Active sports leagues in March: NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in March: NFL, NCAA Football, MLB
Signature sporting events in March: NCAA Basketball Tournament ("March Madness"), WGC CA Championship
March is a month of Madness, with everyone from the most crazed basketball fans to coworkers in the office filling out brackets and placing bets in anticipation of the craziest playoff series in the whole world of sports. The NCAA Basketball Tournament is easily March's signature sporting event.
In MLB, spring training gives baseball fans some excitement after a long winter off, plus reassurance that better times and warmer weather are coming soon.
Big races at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol Motor Speedways help shift NASCAR into second gear in March. In golf, all the world's best golfers face off in the CA Championship, the second WGC tournament of the year.
Active sports leagues in January: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, PGA Tour
Dormant sports leagues in January: MLB, NASCAR
Signature sporting events in January: NCAA Football bowl games, BCS National Championship Game, NHL All-Star Game, Australian Open (tennis)
As the holiday season winds down, the football action heats up. The year starts off with NCAA Football hosting a slate of big bowl games---Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Capital One---before the biggest one of all: the BCS National Championship Game.
The NFL's regular season comes to a close, and the playoffs begin, with 12 teams ready to battle for a chance to earn a trip to biggest event in all major American sports: the Super Bowl.
The NHL has two January traditions. To ring in the new year, the Winter Classic is an outdoor hockey game hosted in a cold-weather climate while all other major sporting events are being hosted in warm-weather climates. At the other end of the month, in the dead of winter, is the NHL All-Star Game.
Basketball fans have plenty of games to watch, with the NBA season on autopilot, and more attention being given to NCAA basketball as the NCAA Football season comes to an end.
Tennis provides some excitement, with the Australian Open being the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. Also, the PGA Tour hosts the Mercedes-Benz championship, a competition between the previous year's champions in Hawaii, to start a new season.
January does have a couple of drawbacks, however. MLB is in deep hibernation at this point, and NASCAR is still a month away.
Active sports leagues in December: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL
Dormant sports leagues in December: MLB, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Signature sporting events in December: NCAA Football bowl games
Visions of sugarplums and footballs dance in people's heads throughout December. In NCAA Football, conference championship games are played early in the month, and bowl games are played late in the month, with the stakes getting progressively higher as the old year draws to a close.
The NFL season rockets down the stretch, with teams going to war for a chance at the playoffs.
Basketball and hockey fans have reason to cheer in December too, with the NBA, NCAA Basketball and NHL seasons all gaining momentum. The NBA in particular has a tradition of hosting exciting games between the top teams on Christmas.
The NHL season kicks into a higher gear at the perfect time, just as the weather outside turns frightful.
Unfortunately, there is no MLB, NASCAR or PGA Tour in December.
Active sports leagues in November: NFL, NCAA Football, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in November: MLB
Signature sporting events in November: WGC HSBC Championship, Chase for the Sprint Cup
Football rules in November, and the NCAA Football season in particular gets exciting as teams compete for trips to conference championships and bowl games. The NFL season is on auto-pilot at this point.
As the NBA season revs up, the NCAA Basketball season begins, giving basketball fans two good reasons to be excited.
In NASCAR, the Chase for the Sprint Cup races to the finish line, with one driver taking home the trophy and a big stash of money.
Unfortunately, baseball fans begin their journey into exile as MLB goes to sleep. The PGA Tour also comes to an end, although the WGC hosts the HSBC Championship, its final tournament of the year, before it's all said and done.
Active sports leagues in April: MLB, NBA, NCAA Basketball, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in April: NFL, NCAA Football
Signature sporting events in April: NFL Draft, NCAA Basketball Tournament ("Final Four"), PGA Master's Tournament, Kentucky Derby
April has a big slate of exciting sporting events. Most excited are the basketball fans, since NCAA Basketball hosts the "Final Four" at the beginning of the month, and the NBA season races to its finish before the postseason begins.
Baseball and hockey fans get plenty of excitement as well, with the official start of the MLB season, and the NHL season mirroring the NBA season in its race to the playoffs.
Three other big events in April include the Kentucky Derby, the PGA Master's Tournament and the NFL Draft. The Kentucky Derby is the first Triple Crown horse race of the year, and the Master's Tournament is the first major tournament of the PGA Tour.
The NFL Draft gives football fans a weekend of excitement during the NFL's offseason.
In NASCAR, the first race of the year at Talladega Superspeedway usually occurs in April.
Active sports leagues in October: NFL, NCAA Football, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA Tour, NASCAR
Dormant sports leagues in October: NCAA Basketball
Signature sporting events in October: World Series, Chase for the Sprint Cup
Ladies and gentlemen, the best month of the year for sports is October. Allow me to explain...
Football is everywhere in October, as both the NFL and NCAA Football enter the heart of their seasons. With all the football being played, it's entirely possible for football fans to spend an entire weekend without leaving their houses.
Football isn't all there is to be excited about in October, though. In MLB, the playoffs begin, with eight teams competing for a trip to the second-biggest sporting event in major American sports: the World Series. Also, NASCAR continues its Chase for the Sprint Cup.
October is a time for new beginnings as well, with both the NBA and NHL beginning their seasons. The PGA Tour also begins its Fall Series, getting in a few more holes of golf before the weather turns cold, and allowing newcomers a chance to win more cash and establish their reputations.
NCAA Basketball is the only major sport missing in October. However, the excitement in all the other sports leagues more than compensates for it, and is what ultimately makes October the best month of the year for sports.