July 30, 2014
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Filling the February sports void
1/29/2014 10:08:13 AM

By Chad Kimberley
Splash Column

As a college and professional sports fan, I have never been a big fan of the month of February. While we do get to kick off the month with the Super Bowl, after that what do we have to look forward to? March Madness is around the corner, but the second regular season matchup between my Iowa Hawkeyes and Purdue Boilermakers doesn't do much for me. I do love the words "pitchers and catchers report," but at the same time the games don't matter till April (and if you are a Cubs fan usually quit mattering about April 15). 

The NBA is well, the NBA. I guess this year we get the Winter Olympics, but honestly other than hockey, I don't enjoy the winter sports as much, and I would still rather watch the movie "Miracle" over a live Olympic hockey game. Even going outside is a bit of a tease, as it feels warmer but still not warm enough to pull out the 9-iron, jog across town (I hate jogging in layers) or have a volley with a friend.

So, what is a sports fan to do? 

I am glad you asked. As a sports fan nearing his fourth decade of fanaticism, I have come up with a few solutions that I am personally planning to implement this month to see if it helps fill the void I experience each February. 

Jump on a high school bandwagon. February is a pretty busy month for high school athletes as their push for state tournament appearances gets under way. It may not be the high stakes of March Madness, but seeing young men and women lay it out on the basketball court or wrestling and gymnastics mats for a chance to represent their high school and help them become the "best in the state" is worth your time and attention. The cost is low, the fun is high and the atmosphere can get electric. In fact, if you are looking for a bandwagon to jump on, feel free to join my Freeman Scotties girls basketball team as we make our postseason push (I coach at Freeman), or I am sure the Central Valley Bears would be happy to have you along for their ride.

Play a full season of Madden. I know this might be a bit juvenile for some of the readers out there, but I would love to relive some of my favorite childhood and teenage and college dorm room moments by knocking out a full season of Madden over the course of the month. I remember as a teen dominating a Super Tecmo Bowl season while pushing Christian Okoye to a 1,500 yard rushing AND receiving season (I am a Bears fan, but that team was so bad I couldn't even play them on Tecmo). As an effort to right old wrongs, I will loyally return to my Bear fandom and knock off a full 16 games plus postseason run of Madden before the calendar turns to March.

Commit to 28 days of exercise. Why is February such a short month? I mean seriously, I have no idea. I could do my due diligence and investigate this matter like a real journalist, but I am a columnist and to that matter a sports columnist, so I am going to go with my own invented theory. February has 28 days (and yes the occasional 29) for the simple reason of making the sports void-less month of February a little bit more manageable. And one way to manage the month is to focus on getting yourself physically ready for all the sports that come with the spring and summer months. So get into the gym. Get on the treadmill. Swim a few laps. Play some "Just Dance" with your kids. Bust out the P90X box that is collecting dust on the bookcase. Regardless of what you do, make a point to do it every day for the month of February and you fill the void and become more of an athlete versus just watching athletes come March.

Read a book a sports book. What a novel concept. Get it, "novel." OK, moving on. It is time to read a book. I mean, why not? The fourth hour of Olympic figure skating is not that riveting. Continuing to refresh ESPN.com does not lend to any new headlines. And honestly, it might just be a great time to model to the kids that reading still has some importance in our society. I am not suggesting you read "War and Peace," but find a book about your favorite athlete or sports team and dig into the written word. The Washington State fan can read "Swing Your Sword" by Mike Leach or perhaps pick up "Shipwrecked: A People's History of the Seattle Mariners" for the baseball fans. 

Hibernate for a month. If the first few ideas don't do it for you, maybe you can go the way of the Grizzly and choose to hibernate for the month of February. Imagine how much fun Super Bowl Sunday could be as you spend all day foraging through the food tables as you attempt to pack on 10 to 15 extra pounds so you can survive the next three to four weeks of sleep. The next thing you know, you wake up with some additional facial hair, the optimism that comes with springtime, and more tables full of snacks as you get ready for March Madness. 

Here's to a void-less February. Remember, the madness is right around the corner.

Chad Kimberley lives in Liberty Lake. He is a teacher at Valley Christian School and coaches girls basketball at Freeman High School. 

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