January 5, 2014

A Look Ahead at the World of Sports in 2014

By - Jaquan Murphy

2013 was good to sports fans. Several memorable moments made this past year one that has folks eager to see what 2014 has to offer.

Photo from: yahoo.com
College football bowl season will conclude Monday night, culminating in the last BCS Championship Game under the current format. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will lead his Florida State Seminoles into battle against the Auburn Tigers. Can Florida State finish undefeated and continue their run of dominating football, or will Auburn continue the SEC's dominance in the BCS era?

As bowl season concludes, the NFL playoffs are in high gear. The clear-cut teams to beat in their respective conferences have been the Seahawks and Broncos. But with the Panthers and 49ers hitting their stride in the NFC and Tom Brady and the Patriots still in the hunt in the AFC, will the two best teams record-wise during the regular season even make the season finale?

Another intriguing thing to watch from the NFL is the new Pro Bowl format. Teams will be selected fantasy draft style, in an attempt to make the game more competitive. Will this new way of doing things bring new life to the game?

Once the NFL season concludes, NBA All-Star Weekend will be right around the corner. The always intriguing, sometimes disappointing, Slam Dunk Contest will headline the events. Will this be the year big names enter the contest like they did back in the day? We shall see. Then the high-scoring, high-tempo All-Star Game itself will be the cherry on top of a highly-festive weekend.

Sounds like a lot already, huh? Right as football ends and basketball heads into crunch time, grab your gloves. Spring Training starts for big league teams. Players get their yearly escape from the suspect weather of their team's hometown to Florida or Arizona. Lineups will be formed and rotations set as they prepare for Opening Day.

While things are peaceful and serene in Spring Training, it's a different story with March Madness. In what can be called "The Year of the Freshman," will a Diaper Dandy (as Dick Vitale says) power their team to a national championship? Who will be this year's Cinderella? They don't call it March Madness for nothing.

The craziness doesn't end there, though. Once a king is crowned in college basketball, the Stanley Cup playoffs and NBA postseason are on the brink. Will this be Oklahoma City's season? Another title for LeBron? Perhaps the Pacers have something to say about all this?

Soccer fans, rejoice! 2014 means World Cup Brazil. The world's best soccer players will come out to represent their countries as the 32-team tournament commences. Can the host country win it all on their own soil? Will European teams continue their dominance? With the World Cup only coming every four years and the sport having such worldwide prominence, this should be nothing less than spectacular for both fanatics and casual followers of soccer alike.

With all the other things going on, it is easy to forget the two big drafts in the NFL and NBA. In the NFL, one of the deeper and more interesting drafts will unfold. Who will go No. 1? Jadeveon Clowney? Teddy Bridgewater? Johnny Manziel? Or, will someone put on a show at the combine and sneak into that top spot? The NBA Draft will be even more suspenseful. Already being considered potentially one of the best draft classes ever, this will be must-see television. Again, who goes first? Second? Impact players will be littered all up and down the first round.

At that point, we will officially be into summer and Major League Baseball will be in full swing. By then, all the old faces will be settled in new places and All-Stars will be named. It will certainly be fun to see who thrives in a new setting, which teams will begin to blossom, and which clubs will be falling behind in the standings.

Not to mention, no summer would be complete without the yearly display of MLB's elite power hitters and the Midsummer Classic.

As summer concludes, football season is back, followed by basketball and hockey, around the time baseball will be crowning a champion. Before you know it, we will be right here again contemplating what 2015 has in store for us.

Hold on tight, sports fans. If you thought 2013 was great, 2014 has the makings to be even better.

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