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4/11/2008 03:54:00 PM
Five Most Underrated Sporting Events
The Frozen Four gets lost in the shuffle of big sports events, but it shouldn't.
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
This weekend, as the azaleas bloom in Augusta, a different, less famous event will go down in Denver. The Frozen Four, college hockey's answer to the Final Four, faces off in front of sell-out crowds and usually provides plenty of excitement. It's just almost always overwhelmed by baseball and the Masters. In recognition of the Frozen Four, here are our five most underrated sporting events.
1. Little League World Series: I'm not even sure when this takes place, but once a year it sneaks up on us, and there's nothing better than watching these little kids out there playing for the love of the game.
2. The World Cup: While it's bigger than the Olympics in most of the world, in the U.S. it still tends to slip under the radar. Which is a shame.
3. The Peach Bowl: My favorite Bowl game, because they usually manage to create a regional match-up with a little venom built-in. And for some reason, seems like every year one of the teams involved wears orange.
4. The NIT: Everyone in office pools around the U.S. focuses on the NCAA Tournament, but the NIT is usually pretty entertaining as well, if not nearly as important or publicized.
5. Wrestlemania: I haven't subscribed to one in years, but each year I get a call afterwards asking if I saw this or that. Usually, I haven't seen it. But I always wish I had.
What's your favorite underrated sporting event? Let us know below...
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
I would have to say the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs. The talent level is very near that of D1-A (see App State V. Michigan circa 2007) and they crown a true champion with a game instead of a nationwide "American Idol" vote.
little leauge world sries is the best i wait all summer and live in vancouver canada and dont get to see much games i fight to get into the world sires and lost in the candian final we work so hard and should be bigger.
Two other underrated sporting events are the College World Series and the Breeders' Cup.
The CWS is always exciting baseball in a great setting. (Too bad it is the only time during the year that college baseball gets any national attention.)
The Breeders' Cup is the Super Bowl of horse racing. The Triple Crown races in the spring get all the attention, but they are limited to three-year-olds. The Breeders' Cup has the best horses in the world -- of all ages and sexes -- in the same place on the same day.
Austrailian Open, Got to admit, even as a casual Tennis fan as I, It it so awesome to see the summer weather every year during the tourney while back here it is still mid winter and were just wishing of what they are experiencing. This event always has had a special place in my heart for that reason.
No doubt Wrestlemania. If you missed this year's, make sure you rent or buy it when it comes out on dvd. Soooooo entertaining. It has become a Super Bowl type event that gets a smidgen of media coverage while millions of people witness it. You need to try it out!
The European Champions League Tournament. It isn't as celebrated as the World Cup (and many haven't heard of it before), but the soccer/football is amazing. This year's semis and finals will be a thing of beauty. Check it out (April 22nd/23rd for the semis).
As for wrestlemania I just don't get it. Knowing that it is staged I can't see the drama. Yea, I know, movies are "faked" too yet the keep us on the edge of our seats anyway. Wrestling just deosn't do it for me!
A couple blasts from the past that have fallen off the radar: the Harlem Globetrotters and the Gold Cup hydroplane boat races in Detroit. For today, NHL Playoffs. You cannot beat a sudden-death overtime playoff game.
The Big Ten Wrestling Championships are a sight to be seen- 110 tough-as-nails farmboys who often don't like each other too much get together and slug it out two weeks prior to nationals. While the national title is the ultimate goal, a Big X title is a prized badge of honor.
Cmon, that has to be the worst list SI has ever posted. I agree with the LLWS and the World Cup. But Wrestlemania? Not even a sporting event. The NIT? I dont even know how to respond to that one. The Peach Bowl? Im speechless. I never post comments, but this list just cant be left alone. A hoops guy talking about the NIT? Your better than that.
On a better note, SLAM is the best source for hoops and you guys do a great job with that.
The World Cup doesn't belong on that list. That is, unless you add the NBA and NHL playoffs. I am pretty certain thatmore people paid attention to even the group stage matches than NBA and NHL playoffs and maybe even the finals.
Any list of underrated events MUST include the Tour de France. These guys are ANIMALS -- riding 21 stages in 23 days covering thousands of miles up and over the peaks of mountains. The US is one of the few countries that doesn't seem to get what an amazing event this is.
The division II basketball Elite Eight. It has been dominated by Winona State for the last three years except for arguably the greatest come back in college basketball history. (Barton, down 7 points with 45 seconds left won.) It is exciting and you see the unsung heroes of basketball, some how can play in the NBA.
Definitely the Stanley Cup Playoffs... and the World Cup, Champions League Tourney, and the Beanpot Tourney... talk about excitement. It's a shame people in our country don't see soccer and hockey for just how exciting they really are.
I agree with Nick. This list is terrible. Wrestlemania? It's fake people. The Peach Bowl? I can watch SEC/ACC football any Fall Saturday. Here's one for you: NASCAR and the Bristol night race. 170,000 fans crammed into a 1/2 mile track. drivers wrecking and getting pissed at each other. Plus, it's one of the greatest collections of rednecks you'll ever see in one place.
1. The College World Series 2. Speedslating from the winter olympics- long track...not the made-for-tv joke that is short track 3. The NHL playoffs - I don't understand why Americans don't follow hockey 4. The World's strongest man competition 5. Darts - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X15KS2YRNtI
You mention the Frozen Four in the article but fail to explain why it is so exciting. Hockey purists who want to see the game played the way it should be should focus on the college game. The pro game with its continual fighting is a bore. The college game, with its skating, passing, speed, outstanding goaltending is the way to watch.
All right, I am a UND Sioux alum and am prejuidiced, but the college game is the one I want to see.
soccer is miserable too watch and if it comes on my tv I ask what did I do to deserve this. It is popular in most parts of the world because it is cheap and easy to play and the rules are simple. Kick ball in goal don't use hands, that is all soccer is about. If the world cup is underrated watching grass grow is also underrated.
Easily FORMULA 1 RACING! F1 gets more tv viewers than any other sport world wide (including soccer). The cars are more technologically advanced and handle better throught the twisty courses than any other cars. America needs to wake up to this historical and very extreme sport!
The early spring classics in bicycle racing - Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. Six or seven hours on bike, sometimes through snow and through the mud. Riding over centuries old cobblestone roads that sometimes pitch up to 23% grades. Most cyclists I know prefer the classics to the any of the national tours for the drama and the finality - there is no next day to make up the time. Miss a break, lose the race.
NCAA Division 1 Hockey? This is a joke right? Make no mistake, the Frozen Four does NOT have the atmosphere of college Football and Basketball. At least in those sports, NCAA is the only real development league to draft from.
The NHL Drafts like what? 3 NCAA players in the first round?... 90% of all NHL Drafts, are from the Canadian Jr Hockey League Federation (Ontario, Western and Quebec Leagues)
The Memorial Cup Champs, the London Knights in Canada produce more 1st Rd draft picks than all the teams in the Frozen Four combined, including an American-born pick.
the masters. once your there, its speechless. its like the first time you get to second base in high school, awesome. t.v. doesn't so it justice, watching white millionaries play golf in a all private country club,amazing on a course 99% of us can't play or even walk on to.
The Association of Surfing Professional's World Championship Tour stop at Teaupoo, Tahiti. I can't imagine any casual beach tourist seeing the eight foot thick lip of a twelve foot wave who wouldn't be terrified of the prospect of getting anywhere near it. Yet the pros drop in grinning and talking smack.
Running out of original ideas, Lang Whitaker? If so, turn in your keyboard (or pen as the case may be).
You did this same column two months ago (February 1 to be exact) and your list was as follows: "1. NCAA Tournament Round of 64 2. NHL All-Star Game 3. WrestleMania 4. The Pro Bowl 5. The FA Cup."
I responded thusly: "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."
This is the second time you have repeated a column. The first one was about what jobs Brett Favre could take after retirement. If you have run out of ideas, turn this column over to someone with some originality.
BTW, another underrated event is Black College Football. ESPNU shows a game once in a while, but the only true national broadcast is the Bayou Classic on NBC. Most people think it's all about the bands, but the athletes play with just as much heart, passion, and skill as those at FCS schools, if not more because the players at black colleges cannot count on being scouted or drafted simply because of the name on the front of their jersey, and as such they give everything they have on every play of every game every Saturday.
Any high school basketball Sectional Final. The game that determines who goes on to State. These games are usually more exciting than the games at State. It is especially good when the school hasn't made it to State in awhile