Friday, December 25, 2009

Looking Ahead to 2010 ...

With the end of 2009 just a week away, it's time to find out what to look forward to in the 2010 sports world. It will be an action packed year with a lot of big events happening.

-SUPER BOWL XLIV: The Super Bowl is the big moment of the sporting calendar. As of right now, we have no idea who will be in the game. However, it should have some doozy storylines. You could have the undefeated Colts in the game ... or the high octane Saints ... or the Brett Farve led Vikings ... or the piping hot Chargers ... or another trip for the Patriots ... or the Cardinals making it back (but not the Steelers) ... or the surprising Cincinnati Bengals ... or a number of other teams. Unlike previous years, this game should be seen as a great matchup going into the game (in past years, there seems to be an overwhelming favorite).

-WORLD CUP: The world's biggest sporting event comes next summer. The World Cup heads to South Africa which is historic and a reminder of the world we live in. The mere fact that South Africa is hosting this event after being ostracized for so many years is amazing. We will be reminded of the racist society that existed during Apartheid. We'll also be reminded the fragility of the world we currently live in. On the lighter side, the USA enters this tournament in their best position in quite some time. With a relatively tame grouping, there is a lot of hope that the Americans can do some damage in this dance.

-WINTER OLYMPICS: Don't look now, but the Winter Olympics are nearly here. The second half of February will bring us back to the world of skiing, figure skating, luge, snowboarding, speed skating and the NHL stars in a great hockey tournament. Not to mention that the games will be held in one of North America's most beautiful cities in Vancouver.

-LEBRON JAMES SWEEPSTAKES: It's unfair to label it the LeBron Sweepstakes since there are several big-time stars that will be available on the free agent market. But the winds of the NBA will flow from Cleveland where James will have to make a decision on his future. Does he stick it out in Cleveland, a place where he's gotten to the Finals once and gotten close again? Does he bolt for New York for all the fabulous bells and whistles he'll get ... even if the franchise is a bit down? Does he try to lure another superstar with him to another place or even Cleveland? I'm one of these people that think this could be much ado about nothing (most of the high-profile stars will stay put). This could turn into the Chris Bosh Sweepstakes.

-UNCAPPED NFL: This is one of those developments that could drastically change the biggest sports league in the United States. If the NFL and the NFLPA cannot come to a new collective bargaining agreement, then 2010 will be an uncapped season. That means that teams could be free to spend whatever they want and some guys who thought they were free agents turn out to be restricted in their choices. It also could make the NFL's richest teams ... the Cowboys, Redskins, Patriots, Texans, Giants, Jets and Eagles ... powerful very quickly. It could turn the NFL into the same financial sourpuss that the MLB finds itself in. Small market teams can still compete, but the big market teams will buy their way into the postseason more times than not. If you don't believe me, just look back at the pre-salary cap years when the Niners, Redskins, Giants, Bills and Broncos dominated.

-TARGET FIELD OPENS: For most of us who don't remember, we will be seeing the Minnesota Twins hosting outdoor baseball for the first time in decades. The Twins are moving into Target Field, and open air stadium in Minneapolis. This will be very interesting to see how this works out. The Twins already struggle to bring in free agents -- how hard will it be when these guys know they'll be playing in freezing weather in April and October?

-NHL'S WINTER CLASSIC: Speaking of freezing, the NHL's Winter Classic is one of the most exciting events the league has ever held. Even non-hockey die-hards check in to see how various baseball or football stadiums are configured to hold an outdoor hockey rink. This year, it will be held at Boston's Fenway Park -- a place known for great baseball tradition that will add a regular season NHL game to it. Sorry, but this is a really neat event.

-TEXAS SIZED ALL STAR GAME: The NBA All Star Weekend has become a huge event for athletes, musicians and actors to get up together and party. Well, this year the game will be held in always-lively Dallas/Ft Worth area ... in the spacious Cowboys Stadium. If you caught the setup for the UNC-Texas game last week, you already understand how massive this may be.

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