April: the busiest month?

As a nation we’re wild about football from September through the Super Bowl and national signing day in early February.
March has the great nickname: March Madness.
But as sports months go, April is underrated.
I don’t know about madness in April but its 30 days are chock full, a sporting smorgasbord with a little something for just about everyone.
April arrives with a dizzying rush. Take the seven days of April 6-12. What other week of the 52 can throw three major events at you?
The Final Four, men’s and women’s versions, have leaked over into April for some time now. The men’s season ended with “One Shining Moment” on a Monday night. The following evening UConn’s women cut down yet another net.
The end of college hoops coincides with the arrival of Major League Baseball, from Fenway to San Diego. All my Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, Reds and Pirates fan buddies toe the starting line of their six-month (maybe seven?) marathon.
But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more! A lot more, in fact: The Masters. Nothing says April like Amen Corner, pink azaleas and green jackets.
As we hit the April halfway point, things are getting more busy, not less.
The NBA playoffs begin this week. In other words, the real season. The dreadful pretenders, the Knicks, Sixers, Timberwolves (and Lakers), etc., are dismissed.
Likewise, the Stanley Cup playoffs. See you next fall, Oilers, Maple Leafs, Sabres and Coyotes. The wheat is separated from the chaff.
Here in East Tennessee, we’ve got a lot going on. Besides allergies, that is.
The Tennessee Smokies have returned to town. Well, to Kodak anyway.
Inside the city limits, there’s playoff hockey. The Ice Bears have advanced to the Southern Professional Hockey League title round. It is their good fortune to host the entire best-of-three Presidents Cup finals beginning Thursday night.
There’s something stirring in the Tri-Cities, too. NASCAR comes to Bristol Motor Speedway twice a year, April and August. The Food City 500 is one of the more popular stops on the circuit.
I’m not a big fan of spring football practice, but it does give a hungry Vol Nation something to occupy part the long gap between signing day and opening day.
It rarely pays to put great stock in the results of a spring scrimmage but it is interesting to scope out the early enrollees. The Orange & White Game will be quite the event if fans heed coach Butch Jones’ plea to fill Neyland Stadium.
There’s one last bit of college hoops in April, albeit a low-key one. The spring signing period began Wednesday but only 11 of the top 100 national prospects were unaccounted for. Still, new Vols coach Rick Barnes has spots to fill so stay tuned for a surprise or two.

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