Opinion | Early March is sports purgatory

sports purgatory

Jacob Hutchinson, sports editor

This time of year brings one word to mind: doldrums.

It’s that weird period of time in sports where the tension and the drive have died down. MLB is in the middle of spring training and the NFL draft is more than a month and a half away.

The NBA and NHL are both a month away from their playoffs, and while there are some playoff – and tanking – races brewing, they have yet to reach that critically entertaining point that usually comes with about a week or two to go.

March Madness is around the corner, and while there were just tournaments in each college basketball division, it’s hard to pay attention to them when you aren’t completely locked in on college basketball.

It’s the same at Chapman. Both men’s and women’s basketball seasons just ended, along with swimming and diving. Meanwhile, sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse and women’s water polo are in the introductory period of their seasons, with the playoffs nearly two months away.

Even the weather is kind of depressing. There’s a seemingly perpetual grayness that’s marked the sky for the last month, and while there are some warm, clear days, most February and early March days have been gloomy and cool.

The whole vibe of early March makes me want to Postmates a burger from the Plaza even though I could walk, just so I can stay inside and keep watching a show I’ve seen at least three times.

Sports being at such a dull, low point encourages you, as a fan, to be introspective and think about your teams. That never goes well.

The two teams I root for that are in season – Everton Football Club in the English Premier League and the New York Knicks in the NBA – are unwatchable.

The last time I watched an Everton game, the opposing team scored within five minutes. Everton’s head coach – its third this season – “Big Sam” Allardyce, inhaled another 12-pack of chewing gum and carried on “coaching” with a grimace on his face and a likely flask of whiskey in his back pocket.

Despite spending 182.43 million pounds this season alone on players – not including player contracts or the severance pay to ex-head coaches Ronald Koeman and Roberto Martinez – Everton are 9th out of 20 places in the Premier League and play a defensive style of soccer so disjointed that it was physically painful to watch.

Meanwhile, watching the Knicks is like playing ultimate Frisbee with your friend who, despite his best efforts, is terrible. He’s not the worst player on the field, but the margin between him and the worst player is slim at best.

Just like how your friend says he thinks he’s “got the hang of the forehand this time,” the Knicks keep bringing in young, semi-washed-up players to give you a glimmer of false hope that only rarely proves fruitful. And when those players actually do pan out, you can bet the Knicks will trade them for a second-round draft pick 20 years down the line and a broken-down flop like Andrea Bargnani.

Knicks owner James Dolan will try to convince you those players still have a chance to hit their potential through the enlightening music of his band, JD & the Straight Shot – he sings off-key while swaying like a bloated Elvis impersonator, sometimes threatening to inhale his harmonica.

When Dolan hired legendary coach Phil Jackson as Knicks president on a five-year, $60 million contract, Jackson halfheartedly forced his triangle system onto the team, which not one person, including head coach Jeff Hornacek, understood. Then, after drafting the Knicks savior in Latvian unicorn Kristaps Porzingis – who tore his ACL this season – Jackson tried to trade Porzingis for skipping the end-of-season exit meeting.

Jackson was soon fired, with only the remaining $24 million remaining on his contract to comfort him.

This is without mentioning the four-year, $72 million contract Jackson gave to a 31-year-old Joakim Noah coming off a career worst season and shoulder surgery. It was OK though, because Noah offered to do pull-ups in front of Jackson, which convinced Jackson that Noah was good to go. Noah has been absent from the Knicks for more than a month after a scuffle with Hornacek – in which Hornacek shoved Noah – but he’s still got another two years and $37 million coming his way.

In other words, I can’t wait for March Madness.