Sports Commentary: The Age of Aquarius

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February is ever so dreary

By Mike Forster

    "April is the cruelest month" is the opening line of a poem called "The Waste Land."
    That poem was written by T.S. Eliot.  I understand the poem is considered one of the most important poems of the 20th century.
    I'm uncertain how critical such prose might be when its opening line is patently false.  These being the sports pages, rather than arts and letters, I'm looking at it with a sporting eye.
    April is most assuredly not the cruelest month.  That indictment belongs to February.
    With the Super Bowl now in our rear-view mirror, sports fans now face the longest drought of the calendar year, conveniently packaged into the shortest month of them all.
    I suspect when T.S. Eliot penned his epic poem, he was paying scant attention to the world of sports.  Sure, April brings rain and it brings tax bills.  But, it also brings us baseball's Opening Day and the NCAA men's hoops championship.  (In defense of Mr. Eliot, he wrote his poem in 1922, long before the advent of the terms "Sweet 16" and "Final Four" became a part of our national lexicon.)
    Ah, February.  Brutal February.  I hate thee, not only for being the month that will see me hit the double-nickel mark on age.  I hate thee, for there is nothing to love about thee.
    Not being quite lame enough, February has now lost the NFL All-Star game.  While generally acknowledged as a half-speed affair, that game at least helped the nation ease itself from the fix that is the NFL season.  Now, football junkies get their Super Bowl fix before going cold turkey.  When the last knee is taken at the conclusion of the game, that's the end.
    At that point, the sports fan has little for which he might anticipate.  The NBA All-Star game?  That thing actually makes the NFL Pro Bowl seem competitive.
    Regular-season NBA and NHL games?  Those are about as exciting as watching "The Bachelor."  Wait a minute.  At least "The Bachelor" has some aggression in it.
    I used to bemoan the paucity of February action by pointing to the NHL All-Star game as one of the month's (barely) bright lights.  But even that bogus affair has been shifted to January.
    Sure, the month includes college basketball.  But, really, that season doesn't start until the NCAA tourney gears up.  And, you may have noted, that one isn't called "February Madness."
    February is so lame that it has been stripped of one of its national holidays.  Once upon a time, we had Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday.  Each Feb. 12 and Feb. 22, we'd all get a holiday to honor those former leaders.
    Now we get President's Day, which is a holiday to honor the buying of mattresses and car tires.
    I've been told February has its roots in the Roman calendar's month of Februarius,  The name came from the Latin term "Februum," which means purification.  Apparently, there was an annual purification ritual conducted during the month.
    Well, times haven't really changed.  These days, the purification consists of wiping the sports slate clean of anything meaningful or exciting for the entire month.
    Am I being too dour on this month?  Are my criticisms unmerited?
    Perhaps.  But as someone who becomes eligible for a lot of, ahem, senior discounts this month, I think it's acceptable for me to go on this mini tirade.
    Perhaps it's my own personal purification process.
    Februum, indeed.