New Year’s Eve and the day after are a time for celebration and tradition, especially in sports. College football has held the crown for almost a century, but what happens when a competitor steps in?
January First has been revered as the grand culmination of the college football season, even with rapidly expanding growth in the past decade. No matter how many Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl games that are thrown on, there is still an excitement over the traditional New Year’s Day games.
At the center of it all is the original bowl game, the Rose Bowl. Technically called “the Rose Bowl game presented by this year’s sponsor” it’s over a hundred years old and classically matches a Big Ten and Pac-12 team. The newest iteration should be a dandy. Nine offensive lineman and a couple tailbacks Stanford of the Pac-12 will take on Pat Narduzzi and his incredible defense of Michigan State from the Big Ten.
Even in an era of fast-paced offenses, fans will still tune in to what I’m sure will be called a “smash mouth” game. Other big games will be on the slate, like the Fiesta Bowl. One league has been trying to challenge the tradition of college football.
One college football stadium will not host a football game on Wednesday. Instead, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor will be host to the latest edition of the NHL’s Winter Classic. The outdoor game is a novel way for the sometimes forgot-about league to attract attention and showcase some of its best talents. This year, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in game that doesn’t have, well, much juice behind it. The highlight maybe the unveiling of the United States Mens’ Hockey Team that will play in the Sochi Olympics.
Previously, the NHL would have two outdoor games. American soil would be treated to the Winter Classic with Canada hosting the Heritage Classic. That game will happen again, with the Vancouver Canucks playing the Ottawa Senators. However, the NHL is like college football and has an expansion problem. Not satisfied with these two games, they’ve added the “Stadium Series” which will take place in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.
Yes, the NHL is trying to have an outdoor game in Southern California in January. It will be a sight to see, with two strong teams in the Ducks and Kings playing in a divisional match-up. The reception has not been warm. Fans have not been buying tickets up in droves, creating a public relations miscue on the part of the league.
Despite this encroachment, the NHL will not own January anytime soon. Ironically, the NHL’s best showcase will be in Sochi, Russia, when the whole world is turned to the Winter Olympics. Football will still continue to be the sport of the New Year.
College football will maintain its grasp on New Year’s Day, and that will only get stronger in the coming years. The NFL still has playoff football, which attracts eyeballs from all across North America. Hockey can try all it wants, but it’s best left waiting.