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2/01/2008 03:31:00 PM
Five Most Underrated Sports Events
The NHL All-Star Game was played this past weekend, but most sports fans missed some great action.
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
Hype serves many purposes. It lets us know what's happening in the world, heightens our senses, gets us pumped for upcoming events. At the same time, too much hype flips the script, leaving us begging for some events to just be done with. The Superbowl is always overhyped, and this weekend's matchup is no exception. But what sports events are we not paying enough to? What deserves more hype?
1. NCAA Tournament Round of 64: The Final Four always gets rammed down our throats, but for my money the first round is immeasurably better, a two-day smorgasbord of hoops during which anything can happen.
2. NHL All-Star Game: This went down in Atlanta last week and was, by all accounts, a rip-roaring affair. I had no idea that not only it was such a good game, but that the game was even scheduled. It's amazing how an entire league can almost completely disappear.
3. WrestleMania: The various Wrestlemanias used to draw record crowds, like when over 90,000 turned out for WrestleMania III. These days, thanks to too many pay-per-view events, WrestleMania just seems like another notch on Vince McMahon's belt.
4. The Pro Bowl: The NFL seems to treat the Pro Bowl almost like an afterthought, which is unfortunate for those of us who like football and would like to see the best players square off against each other. Can't the NFL give these guys a substantial prize for winning, or figure out some other way to make this game more than just a glorified walk-through?
5. The FA Cup: My favorite European sporting event. It's similar to the NCAA Tourney, except that every team is invited to play not just the best squads. The bigger teams still usually win it all, but occasionally a smaller team sneaks in there and knocks out a big dog, like Wrexham did to Arsenal in 1992.
Which sporting events do you think deserve more hype? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
World Junior Hockey Championships. In between college football bowl games is this forum where we get to see future NHL all stars compete for their countries. Because the penalty for fighting is so punative and the games are played on the larger international ice surface the pace and flow is incredible.
Everyone should spend a Friday afternoon at an AVP beach volleyball tournament. The sun is shining, there are usually a dozen matches going on at the same time, and the place is empty - because it's Friday and everyone else it at work!
Many people don't pay attention to or even care about the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament or the WNBA, but having attended a Women's Regional in 2006, the 2002 Women's Final Four, and numerous WNBA games, I can tell you first hand you need to give them a try if you haven't. The tickets and souvenirs are reasonable, the intensity is second to none, and the crowds are just as lively as the mens' events.
Oh, and credit where credit is due, the ladies are great, fundamentally sound athletes who can flat out BALL.
I'm a little partial since I live in Alaska, but how about the Yukon Quest or the Iditarod? Nothing like mushing a dozen or so dogs a thousand miles in -50 degree weather. The dogs are the athletes and the people are the coaches and they put out some amazing teams.
Stanley cup playoffs in general. Most games have less viewers year after year. This year, however, the Finals between Detroit and Pittsburgh had more than usual, due to Crosby, Malkin, Zetterberg, and Datsyuk.