NFL training camps are ramping up, and everyone is ready for some football while at the same time baseball season is headed into the fall schedule.
In some ways, it is a slow time of year for sports, in other ways it is a time of anticipation. Fantasy leagues are forming, team names are being chosen, and those magical draft dates are being set.
In short, fans are ready for some football. Our Sunday afternoons will soon be marked “busy” on our calendars, and Monday Night will be reserved for social gatherings around the game of the week.
But are you really ready for the season? Here are five things you need to get settled in the next few weeks before the pre-season kickoff.
Your Fantasy Wish List
Okay, so it is a little early to actually make your fantasy team picks. Most drafts will take place around the end of August, and in large part because we need to get through training camps first. We don’t know who is going to start for sure, and what injuries or other things might happen.
However, you can make a fantasy list and start watching those players and their teams closely. A simple way to do this is to set up Google alerts for your favorite teams and players. You will get daily (or less often if you prefer) emails containing any news reports about them that Google considers significant.
You also need to come up with a team name, and this can be a daunting task. After all, the name you want may be taken by someone else in your league, and the Dayton Destroyers may be a popular choice.
Either way, it’s not too soon to do your research and start following the Fantasy experts, who will probably be wrong just as often as you are anyway.
Place Your Bets
While sports gambling in the United States is illegal in all but four states (Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon) you can place bets on games in Vegas or in some cases with an online sportsbook.
The good news (for some of us at least) is that the Supreme Court is hearing a case that started in New Jersey about repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in October, which would leave legalizing sports betting up to the states rather than the Federal government.
What this means for you is that most states that have a lottery or casinos already will legalize sports betting, which will broaden your options significantly.
Either way, whether it is a friendly wager with a buddy or more serious gambling, it’s time to set your budget and gather your funds.
Decide How You’re Going to Watch
Since many people have “cut the cable cord” and transitioned to streaming most of their television content, the ratings for Monday Night Football have been low the last couple of seasons. Many think this also relates to the quality of the matchups and fact that the NFL has failed to connect with some younger fans.
Either way, if you have stopped using cable television, you need to determine how you will watch games this season. There are several ways, even if you are streaming content.
One way is using Sling TV on either an Apple TV or Roku device. Some smart TV’s even come with the Sling TV app. With it, you can watch ESPN and other channels for $20 a month (there are other options up to $40 a month that include even more channels).
You can also go to a sports bar, although doing so weekly might get expensive (unless you win some of the bets mentioned above). Alternatively, you can partner with a friend who has cable (or Sling TV) and watch games at their house. Since watching football is generally a social event anyway, this could be a good way to stay connected with friends during the season.
Snack it Up
Perhaps one of the hardest things about the football season is that as the weeks pass, your weight goes up as well. The reason? Snacks. We all love them during a game, and let’s face it, most of them are not really healthy.
Before the season even starts, make a snack plan: one that includes ways to limit your intake of carbs and sugar (including beer, sorry dudes) to reasonable levels. Of course, this does not mean you cannot snack at all. You can substitute healthy snacks instead.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have nachos, but that you might have to choose a healthier version with a little less cheese. And the popcorn? Sure, without all the butter and salt.
You don’t have to be miserable (or a rabbit) to enjoy healthy snacking, but be sure you plan ahead so the pounds on your waist don’t go up faster than a Goodyear blimp providing aerial coverage.
There is nothing more embarrassing or uncomfortable than having some of the bros over to watch the game and having them sit on a threadbare couch with the springs sticking through. It’s also much harder to check your eyelids for holes during the Brown’s game if your recliner is shot.
So look around your living room Does your furniture need an upgrade? Right before football season is a great time to do this. Not only will you feel better inviting friends over or napping, but if you are married you will also impress your spouse—which may alleviate the pain that they will not see you on Sundays for the next six months at least. Unless your spouse watches with you, in which case good for you. The family that cheers together stays together I always say.
This may (or may not, you be the judge) be a great time to bring up a new TV, but be careful with this one. Not all spouses agree that seeing games in 4K on a curved screen strengthens any relationship.
So are you ready for some football? I’m not. I still have a few things left to do, and I bet you do too. Get ready. Football season is coming.