Lull means big things close by

Published 7:25 am Monday, July 21, 2003

By Staff
It is sort of a running joke among sports fans that this time of year is a particularly slow one. Sure, Major League Baseball is gearing up for the second half of its season, but it is the only of the four major sports with competition going on right now.
NASCAR and golf fans may take exception to that statement, given that racing continues and the 132nd British Open is being contested over this weekend, but by and large, the sports landscape is pretty barren compared to other times of the year.
The same is true locally, with only the American Legion baseball team seeing current action.
However, that lull in the sports fan's schedule is soon to be replaced by a frenzy of activity. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, it was planned that way. With fall practices set to begin for local high school and college football teams, not to mention training camps kicking off around the NFL, this nation's favorite sport is shift into high gear.
Locally, cheerleaders and booster clubs are making the rounds of local businesses, selling season tickets and advertising in football programs. The airwaves are filled with predictions for the upcoming season of college football. And players, who have been working on their conditioning all summer long, are about to begin organized practices, answering questions about who will fill the shoes of departed seniors.
Sports on all levels have seemingly been the one part of the American landscape that has continued to grow, despite the shaky economic times. Universities continue to add more seats to already huge football stadiums. It's reported that a college basketball game between Duke and Michigan State Universities could top 75,000 in tickets sold.
Those are impressive numbers when you hear about attendance drops at vacation hotspots such as Disney World.
What has caused the ongoing climb in attendance and revenue? In many cases, it's been fueled by good economic times. Fan interest has also been increased through the dissemination of more and more information as websites have popped up as quickly as they can secure a catchy name. Radio and television stations dedicated to sports have proliferated, giving the public a forum to hear about and discuss their favorite teams.
Part of it is also driven on the local level, as parents have used sports as an opportunity to connect with their kids. Whether driven by guilt as more and more of us seem to work longer hours, or simply because we like to see our children enjoy themselves and succeed, youth leagues have blossomed across the country.
When you get down to it, though, football is the giant that drives the machine. Aside from the NCAA's Final Four basketball championships, no other sport garners as much attention in print, over the airwaves or around the water cooler. Football gives men a chance to remember glories from days gone by. It's an excuse to get out of the house and spend the day tailgating with friends. It's a way for communities to come together and lament their team's woes or celebrate its victories.
Alabama is blessed with a strong tradition in college football, and one of the most intense rivalries in the nation. Brewton and East Brewton share a similar legacy with Alabama and Auburn, and the Battle of Murder Creek inspires just as much passion.
Sports fans can rejoice. Opening day, a term that used to be reserved for baseball, is just around the corner. Now it refers to the opening of highschool, college and professional football seasons. And for some of us, that day cannot come soon enough.
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