12 Ways to Beat the Post-Football Blues

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2015

12 Ways to Beat the Post-Football Blues

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Yes, football is over, but you can beat that post-Super Bowl depression. There are plenty of sporting events in February to get excited about...really.

    Some people say February is the worst sports month of the year, but I’m here to be optimistic. I’m here to tell you why what often seems like a dismal sports month can have its moments.  

    Whether you’re into NASCAR or college basketball, February has something for everybody. I’ve even got you diehard baseball and college football fans covered.

    Here are 12 things February still has to offer, even now that Super Bowl XLIX is in the books.

National Signing Day

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    Sure, no actual competitive football is happening right now, but national signing day is Feb. 4. This is the first day that seniors can sign an official letter of intent to play for an NCAA school.

    There are some pretty stellar players still left to indicate their college choices, and football fans around the country will be glued to the Interwebs to see how their teams make out.

Daytona 500

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    NASCAR kicks off in February with one of the biggest races of the year, the Daytona 500. In 2014, the 500-mile event set a record for its purse size, a total of $19 million.

    Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. won an exciting race last year. On a challenging weather day, Earnhardt didn’t take the lead until the 131st lap, but from there he never relinquished. Following the victory, Kenny Bruce of NASCAR.com reported that Earnhardt said, “Winning this race is the greatest feeling you can feel in the sport, aside from … accepting the trophy for the championship.”

NBA All-Star Game

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    OK, some people aren’t in love with All-Star Games, but this will be a whole weekend devoted specifically to excitement and fan enjoyment. NBA All-Star weekend is Feb. 13-15 in New York.

    Kobe Bryant won’t be playing, and Kevin Durant isn’t starting, so it’s kind of like an All-Star twilight zone this year. What will happen are the following: a celebrity game and challenges involving rising stars, skills, three-point shooting and slam dunks. Last year’s celebrity game featured Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose as coaches and funnyman Kevin Hart as a fan favorite on the court.

    As for the game itself, it will undoubtedly be a spectacle of the league’s best offensive talent. Even if it holds no meaning for the actual season, the game serves as a break for basketball—an excuse for teams to take their respective temperatures and make adjustments for the playoff push.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest

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    If the NBA All-Star Game isn’t your bag, then how about this? This year’s festivities will feature one of the most anticipated three-point contests in recent memory.

    The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest is your alternative to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner on Feb. 14. The competitors listed are Stephen Curry, Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, J.J. Redick, Wesley Matthews and Marco Belinelli. As of Feb. 2, the first five of those guys all rank in the top 10 in the league in three-pointers made per game.

    Korver, Thompson and Redick are all top 10 in three-point percentage, and while Curry’s percentage isn’t quite as high, he’s probably the most exciting shooter in the league. He’s the current favorite to win the competition.

PGA Tournaments

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    Even though golf's first major isn’t until April at Augusta National, there are four PGA tournaments happening in February:

    • Farmers Insurance Open: Feb. 2-8
    • AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Feb. 9-15
    • Northern Trust Open: Feb. 16-22
    • The Honda Classic: Feb. 23-March 1

    This is particularly exciting because, once again, Tiger Woods looks to make a comeback. The stakes are high for the golf legend. Currently ranked 56th in the world, Woods must crack the top 50 in order to qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. He has failed to qualify for a World Golf Championship event only once in his career.

Tokyo Marathon

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    I said there was something for everybody, and I meant it. The Tokyo Marathon became the sixth member of the World Marathon Majors in 2012, joining the events in New York, Boston, Chicago, London and Berlin. Top finishers in these races earn points, and the male and female leaders after a two-year period split $1 million in prize money.

    The competition will be stiff on race day, Feb. 22, and a course record could be in the cards. There will be 21 male competitors with personal bests ranging from 2:03:02 to 2:09:30. Among them will be Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai, who holds the course records in both Boston and New York City. 

Pitchers and Catchers Report

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    Sure, the MLB regular season is still weeks away, but real baseball lovers know that the first big event of the season happens in February. That’s right—pitchers and catchers report to spring training. The dates vary slightly based on each team, but all pitchers and catchers have report dates between Feb. 18 and 23.

    Now that football is over, we can turn our attention to baseball—analyzing offseason moves, projecting rosters, making spring training predictions. All the while, we count down to that glorious day when spring training facilities open their gates, and the season before the season starts.

World Ski Championships

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    For you winter sports lovers, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are Feb. 2-15 in Vail, Colorado.

    Lindsey Vonn will try to win her first world or Olympic championship since the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010. Bode Miller will race for the first time this season following an injury, and Ted Ligety will attempt to defend his dominance. He’s the reigning champion of both the Olympic and world giant slalom events.

European Soccer

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    American football is over, but European football is in full swing.

    There are several European leagues, and all have game action in February. There’s the Barclays Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, Ligue 1 in France and Bundesliga in Germany, to name the big ones.

    The Premier League has gotten pretty popular in America. And, quick fun fact: Everyone’s favorite meme-inspiring goalie, Tim Howard, plays for Everton. After injury, he's on track to return in mid-February, per Phil Kirkbride of the Liverpool Echo. And La Liga is home to names you’ve probably heard of like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi.

UEFA Champions League

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    Top teams in the European leagues play in the UEFA Champions League each year. The league is an annual competition spread over many months that ultimately determines the best soccer team in Europe. The formatting is complicated, but just know this: the round of 16, or the knockout phase of the tournament, starts in February.

    This year, some intriguing matchups are in store, including Barcelona vs. Manchester City and Chelsea vs. Paris Saint-Germain. 

NCAA Basketball Conference Play

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    I know it’s called March Madness, not February Madness. Still, February is when college basketball conference play is in full swing. Games played in February will have a dramatic impact on conference tournament seeding and ultimately whether teams make the Big Dance.

    As of Feb. 2, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Virginia, Duke and Wisconsin make up the Top 5 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches polls. But the beauty is there’s a lot of basketball left to be played. So much can change in a matter of weeks, even for the teams on top.

    Whether your team is in for sure or on the bubble, now is the time to start paying attention.

NHL Second Half

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    It’s the second half of the NHL season, but there’s a lot of hockey left to play. February is a great month to hunker down and spend some time with one of the greatest winter sports there is. Here are a few nuggets to get you going:

    • The defending champion Los Angeles Kings were out of the playoff picture at the All-Star break. They’ll need to step it up in the second half.
    • The New York Islanders and Nashville Predators, two teams that missed the playoffs in 2014, are atop their respective divisions as of Feb. 3.
    • The San Jose Sharks and L.A. Kings will play outdoors at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 21.

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