Summer is a brutal time for many sports fans. Each year, as free time and sunshine simultaneously blossom, the hype of the sports world transitions into background noise. Students leave school, adults take vacation time, days get longer — and daily sports recaps get shorter. Much shorter.
That is, unless you’re a fan of regular season baseball or international soccer. If so, you probably don’t feel the pain of your fellow fanatics, and this list isn’t for you. It’s for those who have heard the term RBI and don’t care to know what it means. And for those who aren’t sure what constitutes an offsides call on the soccer pitch.
Here’s a summer schedule to ease the suffering as you await the return of your beloved sport.
Sure, it’s not always the main topic of discussion on sports talk shows. But tennis can be fun to watch, especially when it’s at the elite level of Wimbledon. Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic are at the top of the tennis world, but both can be defeated. If you’re looking for fierce competition, tennis could tide you over.
Summer League: July 2
Contrary to popular belief, basketball doesn’t disappear in the summer. Plenty of dynamic NBA players will compete in three summer leagues — Orlando, Utah, and Las Vegas. The Olympics will steal some of the NBA’s best, but there’s plenty of rookie stardom likely to play over the summer. Pay attention, and you could catch an early look at Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.
Tour de France: July 2–24
Watching cycling isn’t quite as exhilarating as watching playoff basketball or college football, especially when one race lasts three weeks. But as the world’s most popular bike race, the Tour de France is worth following. Not only will it showcase athletes from all over the globe, it will also give viewers a look at beautiful French landscape.
If you haven’t heard the names Mick Fanning and John John Florence, you’re missing out. Both elite surfers will compete at Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa. Surfing doesn’t get much airtime on popular TV networks, but it’s packed with adrenaline for both surfers and fans. If the waves are pretty enough, almost anyone can find enjoyment watching these guys dance with the ocean.
The Basketball Tournament: July 9
Wait, there’s more basketball in the summer? Yes, there most certainly is. The Basketball Tournament, also called TBT, features 64 teams from around the country competing in a 5-on-5, winner-take-all format. The bracket is split up between four major cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, with the final round taking place in New York. Teams range from former college athletes to neighborhood stars, so you may even recognize some of the players.
MLB All-Star Weekend: July 10–12
It’s baseball, but it’s not just an ordinary game. The weekend will feature the Celebrity Softball Game, the Home Run Derby, the Futures Game, and the All-Star Game, among other events. Even those who don’t like baseball can appreciate Snoop Dogg trying to catch a pop fly or Bryce Harper nailing ball after ball into the stands.
Golf is boring, right? Wrong. The sport hit a lull after Tiger Woods lost his touch, but it’s been revived with young talent. Jordan Speith, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy are just the tip of the talent iceberg in today’s PGA field. The sport can be too slow for some, but it’s ideal for those who like to watch the fusion of power and finesse.
NFL preseason/training camp: Mid-July
Are you ready for some football? The NFL returns on August 7 with the Hall of Fame Game between the Colts and Packers. Even before that, though, training camps begin in mid-to-late July and plenty of talking heads will be debating who’s going to win and lose before anyone takes the field.
PGA Championship: July 28–31
Here we go again with the golf. The case has already been made, but to reiterate: young stars are abundant in today’s tour. The competition is elite and unpredictable — you might be surprised by how thrilling PGA Sundays can be.
This summer is a special one. All sports fans should be able to find something worth their time during the Olympics, whether it’s swimming, basketball, judo, or archery. As a smorgasbord of international talent, the Games have it all. No other summer events are more worthy of your attention.
Billabong Pro Tahiti: August 19–30
This might begin to feel repetitive, but surfing is underrated. It doesn’t gain as much traction among casual fans because it’s done only on coasts and often in places outside of the U.S. But the intensity and fluidity are comparable to your favorite sports — and that’s a promise.
U.S. Open: August 29–September 11
Tennis has a reputation as a quiet, proper sport, but the drama in this year’s U.S. Open could be high. One week after the Olympics end, the world’s best will reconvene to fight for this Grand Slam. The results from Rio will likely dictate the storylines and the attitudes of players such as Djokovic, Williams and Andy Murray.
The alternative to watching any of these events is to go outside, be active, and play your own sports. Kids get summers off rather than winters because the sun shines harder and longer and there’s more daylight to enjoy the great outdoors. Even if you choose to spend some time on the couch keeping up with sports, be sure to take advantage of the time you have to play a pickup baseball or basketball game, swim, or simply try a new sport. Just, whatever you do, get outside!
Photos: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images (Williams), Laurent Masurel/World Surf League via Getty Images (Fanning), Andrew Redington/Getty Images (Day), Al Bello/Getty Images (Phelps), Alamy (Grand Tetons National Park)