The NFL playoffs will be over soon. The MLB season is yet to begin. The NBA and NHL are locked in the dog days of their seasons.
In a few weeks, it will be a dead period on the sports calendar — just before March Madness with no football for several months. Unless you follow an NHL or NBA team competing for the playoffs, it’s hard to keep focused.
Unless, of course, you were to expand your sports horizon.
For every weekend from now to September, people will have professional or college lacrosse available to watch, and it’s a change of pace from the typical sports viewing expectations at one of the slowest times of the year.
The National Lacrosse League, which has teams in Buffalo, Colorado and Calgary that pack arenas regularly, is an indoor league. Its season began in late December, and it has already been wild.
Vancouver, expected to be in last place in the Western Conference, has started its season 2-1. The Buffalo Bandits, fresh off an Eastern Conference Championship, are at 0-2. The defending champion Saskatchewan Rush lost in an upset to the young Georgia Swarm.
Last season’s MVP, Dhane Smith, has barely found the back of the net. Two rookies — Kyle Jackson and Josh Currier — have inserted surprising excitement for the Rochester Knighthawks.
The Toronto Rock, in an effort to rebuild the club, have changed their approaches and are at 2-0. Now they appear to be on the rise.
For New England, despite an 0-2 start, the Black Wolves have one of the most dynamic rosters in the league, with an all-time great scorer, Shawn Evans. Not to mention that last season’s goalie of the year, Evan Kirk, after nearly a decade of obscurity in Philadelphia, is on one of the most spending-heavy teams in the NLL.
That nine-team league is just one viewing option.
College lacrosse kicks off in the first week of February. The University of North Carolina will be defending its national title. Teams such as Syracuse University, University of Notre Dame and Duke University will be competitive, but younger programs such as Rutgers University, Marquette University and University of Richmond are on the rise.
Locally, young teams such as Boston University and University of Massachusetts Lowell are ready to emerge in their respective conferences, while Harvard University is a legitimate contender in the Ivy League.
The offseason had a coaching carousel, with coaching legend Dom Starsia leaving Virginia.
The Big Ten is ready to explode, with Michigan on the verge of becoming a top program and creating a historic rivalry with Ohio State. Maryland returns as the league favorite, but fan-favorite Rutgers have plans of their own as well. Johns Hopkins also has the potential to have yet another strong season.
If that’s not enough, in April, the professional outdoor league, Major League Lacrosse, will begin its 17th season, with the Denver Outlaws looking to defend their second championship.
The Florida Launch and Atlanta Blaze have two of the most exciting rosters in the league and are looking to make noise. Myles Jones, the Blaze’s first overall pick from last season, was suddenly traded to the Chesapeake Bayhawks at the league’s trading deadline, shaking up the entire landscape of the league for 2017.
In Boston, the Cannons just missed out on the playoffs despite going on a torrid run at the end of 2016. With nearly the entire roster returning, and second-year talents Kylor Bellistri and Brandon Mullins about to break out as stars, it might be an excellent year of lacrosse in New England.
So don’t be bored if the sports calendar begins to dwindle. There’s more excitement, you just have to be willing to look for it.