Look forward to three months of indulging in sun and sports

With the school year coming to a close, I could take a moment to reflect on the past year in sports, but I’d prefer to look to the future. In two weeks, we’ll all be going our separate ways for the summer, and there’ll be a plethora of exciting sporting events to watch from May to August, so here’s a preview of what to look forward to this summer in the wide world of sports.

The National Basketball League (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs are currently in progress, but they seem to drag on forever. If you’ve been too busy to pay attention, don’t worry — tune in next month and you won’t be too late.

The Spurs and the Pistons are both leading their respective series, so a rematch of last year’s NBA finals could be in the cards, but I wouldn’t count out Kobe and the Lakers or Shaq and the Heat just yet.

There is nothing more dramatic than an NHL playoff game in overtime. With the sudden-death format, ties are no longer an option. There have already been four games that have reached double overtime this year, with two in the Detroit–Edmonton series. The Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils are looking strong in the East, while the West is up for grabs, as the best team in the regular season, Detroit, is on the brink of elimination.

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby, with Brother Derek, Lawyer Ron, and Barbaro pegged as the favorites leading up to the race at Churchill Downs. Expect a fast start from these horses with strange names in a race that will be attended by almost 150,000 people.

With June comes soccer’s World Cup. Germany is hosting the tournament; matches will start June 9 and last for a month. Defending champion Brazil will look to repeat after defeating Germany to win the World Cup four years ago. The U.S. made it to the quarterfinals in 2002, and they hope to equal or improve on that performance this year. The U.S. is in a tough group with the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana. Only the top two teams from each group advance, so every game carries major implications.

Tennis fans will get their fill as the French Open takes place in early June with Wimbledon following in early July. Roger Federer looks to win his fourth straight Wimbledon singles title. Last year, Federer overpowered Andy Roddick, winning the final in straight sets. On the women’s side, Venus Williams had her back against the wall against Lindsay Davenport, only to persevere and come from match points down to defeat Davenport and win her third Wimbledon title.

The Tour de France runs from July 1 to July 23; the big news is that somebody with a last name other than Armstrong will win this year. Lance Armstrong has won the past seven Tours, but he announced after last year’s competition that he would not race in another. Armstrong’s feat is truly remarkable, but his retirement gives everyone else an actual chance at winning.

Pittsburgh will host the Major League Baseball All-Star game on July 11 this year, which will mark the first time all season that two good teams will be playing in PNC Park at the same time.

The ballpark, overlooking Pittsburgh’s beautiful skyline, has been ranked as one of the best parks in baseball; unfortunately, it usually doesn’t get much recognition because the Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992.

Lastly, as if coming back to school in August isn’t enough, we’ve got the Little League World Series spanning August 18–27 in Williamsport, Pa. It gives 11- and 12-year-olds with squeaky voices the opportunity to become famous for a short time as they all vie for the coveted World Series championship. It’s a relief to see athletes playing for the sheer love of the game, instead of for money or glory — as is evident at times in professional sports today.

Consider yourself prepared for the upcoming months now; the sun never seems to set on the sports world, and this summer will be no exception. Whether you’re a diehard fan or just a casual spectator, there is something for everyone in the months to come.