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Hefferon: Sports expand reach to midweek (Nov. 13)

Jack Hefferon | Tuesday, November 12, 2013

 

Well, it’s Wednesday. Hump day. Together with Tuesday, it forms an all-to-often bland mass of doldrums in the middle of the week, especially when winter decides to descend upon South Bend. Weekends past and future, with their freedom, gatherings and sports, seem far too far away.

At least, that’s the way it used to be.

Now, don’t be rash; it’s not as if the school week is getting cut to four days (not even national holidays can do that around here). But in the world of sports, the dog days of the week are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Back in our parent’s day, the NFL played on Sundays, period. The week for football fans was just a long lead-up to that day, with the league’s action packed into one day. Monday Night Football’s introduction in 1970 changed the game, but it’s the League’s recent adoption of Thursday Night games that have truly spread the love, halving the wait between NFL doses from six days to three. These Thursday Night games have brought a bit of hope to the early week, but they’re just the beginning.

College football has expanded the act, breaking through the Tuesday-Wednesday barrier and granting football to every night of the week. Tuesday’s are a night for #MACtion, as the Mid-American Conference has pounced on the chance for national exposure and shifted games to the midweek. 

The MAC has another pair of games on tap for tonight, including one with BCS implications as No. 15 Northern Illinois (9-0, 5-0 MAC) hosts Ball State (9-1, 6-0 MAC). Throw in last Thursday’s two top-10 matchups (No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 10 Oklahoma), and the college game has us covered from Monday Night Football to College Gameday on Saturdays.

But to focus just on football is to skip the rest of the buffet. ESPN, in the name of all things over-the-top, put together a 29-hour Tip-off Marathon to kick off the college hoops season, which concluded last night. The marathon opened with a women’s doubleheader featuring four of the top 12 teams in the country, and was capped by an unreal pairing of men’s games at the United Center – No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 Michigan State, then No. 4 Duke vs. No. 5 Kansas. 

In the middle was a steady drip of games at all hours of the night and morning, and if I had any sense at all I would’ve been watching Hartford at Florida Gulf Coast – a 7 a.m. tip in Southern Florida – while cramming for midterms yesterday morning.

(But seriously, a 7 a.m. tip before classes on a Tuesday? That’s just about the most monotony-smashing idea ever brought to a college campus. If any college sport is ever hurting for attendance, you now have an instant hype machine. Just add free bagels.)

And in the world of weekday sporting events, there’s nothing better than the Olympics, which now just sit a few months away. Nothing livens up a Monday afternoon like some curling or speed-skating trials, and the 9-hour time difference between Sochi and South Bend should guarantee plenty of live events broadcast at all kinds of odd hours.

Throw in the return of NHL, NBA, and college basketball games to occupy weeknights, NBC Sports’ pumped-up coverage of the EPL to supplement weekend mornings – and of course the omnipresent SportsCenter to tie it all together – and there truly is no hour of the week left untouched by live coverage of sports on TV.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffro@nd.edu
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.