Across The Pond with Mac White

UNIVERSITY of Leeds students have officially reached the one-month mark since classes officially began in late September. Days have become shorter and colder, athletes donning Gryphons’ colours are performing admirably and another year of Leeds Varsity lunacy has come and gone.

But, if you weren’t paying attention from beneath your never-ending pile of essays and assignments, you may have missed a whole array of events in the sporting calendar. Events that have been taking place on a continent far, far away – North America.

The past month has seen the start of two out of the “big four” North American sports leagues seasons, in ice hockey (NHL) and American football (NFL), with the basketball (NBA) season tipping off in the next few days.

The other sport, baseball (MLB), is currently down to the last two teams in the World Series to determine the ultimate champion. In the 2015 edition, the Kansas City Royals are taking on the New York Mets. Both are young and obviously gifted teams that have the commonality of having considerable World Series title droughts. The Mets last won in 1985 while the Royals last reigned the year after, in 1986.

Based on experience alone, the Royals appear to be the favourites. They made it to the Series in last year’s playoffs, before losing by just one run in the final game to the San Francisco Giants.

So far, Kansas City has taken a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Royals starting pitcher in Game One, Edinson Volquez, pitched six innings on the mound despite the passing of his father earlier in the day.

Kansas City management decided not to tell Volquez of the passing until after the game, a decision that has come under fire from the media. The NFL is approaching the midway point of its 16-game schedule. So far, there are six teams that remain undefeated including the defending Super Bowl champs, the New England Patriots.

The NFL has stressed the importance of growing the game across the world. Since 2007, games have been held at London’s Wembley Stadium. Already this season there have been two matches with a third scheduled to take place in January. The NHL has greatly succeeded in expanding the game of ice hockey across the globe over its history. So much so that this season is the first in which Canadian-born players no longer make up the majority of players.

He may only be 18, but Oilers star Conor McDavid is already tipped to have a bright future
He may only be 18, but Oilers star Conor McDavid is already tipped to have a bright future       Photo:

Of the over 600 skaters to play in the league’s first few weeks, 49.7% were Canadian with the rest primarily coming from the United States, Sweden, and Russia. This season has also marked the debut of highly-touted forward Connor McDavid. McDavid, who plays for the Edmonton Oilers, was selected first overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and is expected to become the league’s next superstar. Thus far, the 18-year-old has 10 points in 10 games played in a talented Oilers squad that has three other first overall draft picks from the past five years, in addition to McDavid.

However, attention hasn’t been solely focused on the league’s young talent. Jaromir Jagr, the Florida Panthers’ 43-year-old right winger currently sits in 11th in league scoring with 10 points in nine games. In a recent interview with TSN ca, Jagr was quoted as saying he knows he will continue to play competitively until he’s 50. So, maybe your favourite football club isn’t having the greatest season; let’s say it’s on to its 7th manager in the past two years. Perhaps you’re looking for a team to cheer for after the Rugby World Cup concludes or you can’t wait until February to see the next Leeds Rhinos game.

Perhaps you are one of many exchange students from North America and haven’t been able to keep track of all that’s going in back home. Perhaps, best of all, you want to be exposed to an unfamiliar and exciting sport. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it.

Mac White 

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