I treasure Sundays. It's a day to grill out, relax, be with friends and enjoy the National Football League.
Thanks to a good friend, HDTV and DirecTV's Sunday Ticket, Sunday has become a day to bask in professional sports' best offering.
The NFL has long been my choice as the most popular pro sport.
Most sports fans are drawn in by the league's parity, which allows any downtrodden franchise a shot at the playoffs every season. Fans of any team - outside of Arizona - can legitimately hope for their team to make it to the Super Bowl, sports' grandest stage.
There are other reasons why pro football has lapped the competition, but now those reasons are moot.
Rather than the NFL winning fans because of what it does right, the other sports are losing supporters because of what they do wrong.
Baseball had started to regain some of the fan base it lost after the 1994 strike with fantastic playoffs in 2001, 2003 and 2004. America's sweethearts, the Boston Red Sox, triumphed over the most evil of empires, the New York Yankees, in a cinematic American League Championship Series.
Everything seemed to be right again in baseball.
That barely lasted a month.
Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Chronicle released testimony of Yankees' slugger Jason Giambi admitting steroid use.
It wasn't a huge shock. Giambi came into spring training 30 pounds lighter and went from looking like Horshack to Hulk Hogan.
But he and teammate Gary Sheffield and Giants' outfielder Barry Bonds all vehemently denied drug use during spring training despite ties to BALCO, the Bay Area laboratory that was raided by the FBI and now is under investigation over steroid allegations. A few days later, the same newspaper released testimony of Bonds admitting he was unknowingly given steroids by his trainer.
He told ESPN's Pedro Gomez on camera before the season that there was no way he could have taken steroids unknowingly.
Now embroiled in the biggest scandal since the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series, it is no wonder why "America's pastime" has taken a back seat to the NFL.
Then there is the NBA, a league with more questionable characters than a Sopranos family reunion.
It's the only league in sports where the best players, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady, are overshadowed by ones who are more flamboyant and often carry a criminal record.
It is no longer a league of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan. Now it is a league where players storm the crowd to lead a riot. It is a league where Ron Artest, one of the biggest thugs in sports history, can punch three fans in one night and argue that his season-long suspension is too harsh.
With programs like the World Series of Poker and the Spongebob Squarepants cartoon drawing higher ratings, the NBA is dying a slow death. You can always, though, tune into WWE Smackdown to get your brawl fix.
You sure won't get that by watching the locked-out National Hockey League. Nobody really knows why hockey is on strike, and nobody cares. Not to offend the NHL's 17 fans, but nobody is missing hockey right now.
With baseball, basketball and hockey in the shape they are in, it isn't a big surprise that watching grown men drive in circles for four hours has taken hold as America's second-favorite sport.
NASCAR has done far more right than the other sports, but I don't watch much. They race on Sundays.
I'm busy that day.
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