Fall is best time of year

Sideline Scholars

Each year, summer provides a lull for every sports fan. We find ourselves excited for Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays games because, quite frankly, there's nothing better going on in the sporting universe. But, in the next six weeks, that will all change.

Why? Because these weeks represent the greatest portion of the sports calendar, with the beginning of football, baseball pennant races and playoff fever, the beginning of the NBA and NHL seasons, the WNBA Finals, and, this year, the Women's World Cup.

Besides the thrill of professional sports, here on campus there are some amazing sporting events as well. Men's Soccer hosts Lehigh in a Patriot League battle and Alumni Day showdown on Oct. 4.

Women's Soccer hosts rival Holy Cross on Sept. 27, and both of AU's basketball teams begin their journey toward the NCAA Tournament.

The seemingly never-ending summer always gives way to falling leaves and rising hopes in the sporting world. Last week, the NFL kicked off with a party that rocked D.C. and an ensuing Redskins victory.

The NFL kickoff came four days after college football got underway. Any good sports fan knows that no matter how good the NFL may be, it often pales in comparison to the down-to-the-wire, Saturday afternoon thrillers that culminate in New Year's Day bowl games.

In addition to football, which has become "America's Sport," we still have America's pastime: baseball. At press time, 16 teams had legitimate postseason aspirations. This year's race will be the tightest we've seen in years and the run to the World Series is always spectacular.

Speaking of spectacular, the New Jersey Devils and San Antonio Spurs will begin their mission to repeat in the NHL and NBA, respectively. Kobe Bryant's legal issues will unfold for the world to watch, and the constant distraction that is Maurice Clarett will also keep sports fans interested.

But, there's something different about this year's fall: we have the Women's World Cup. As an avid sports fan, I've seen great games, but none even rival the 1999 championship between the U.S. and China.

The game, which is remembered for America's Brandi Chastain ripping off her shirt in celebration, should stand out for its incredible scoreless play through regulation and overtime and for Brianna Scurry's incredible saves during penalty kicks.

And, lucky for AU students, the World Cup kicks off Sept. 21 at RFK Stadium here in D.C. with the USA Women taking on Sweden. This match begins a three-week thriller that will culminate Oct. 12 in Los Angeles.

Over the past two years, I've been a big proponent of women's sports, and the World Cup is a perfect example why. While the USA men were the underdog and gripped our hearts last summer as they experienced their first World Cup success in a long time, the women enter this tournament as the overwhelming favorites.

Sporting names such as Chastain, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, and Scurry, no one will be satisfied with anything less than a U.S. gold medal.

First place is the ultimate prize this time of year. While students buckle down, hoping for A's and B's, athletes all over the country start studying their X's and O's.

The product of these athletes' intense desire to win is what makes being a sports fan so special. From Monday Night Football to Patriot League soccer, Mia Hamm to Miami Dolphins, the ALCS to the BCS, the next six weeks will take sports fans on the ride of their lives.

Here in D.C., the ride will be even wilder. We have the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, the World Cup and AU Soccer.

It certainly seems as though Tigers-Devil Rays game may take a back seat to Yankees-Red Sox, USA-China and Redskins-Cowboys. Something tells me there won't be many complaints.

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