Personally, I'm not a big fan of spring games. You get all excited for the first taste of college football since early January, only to suffer the inevitable letdown that the "game" you are watching is basically a glorified practice session.
But I'm clearly in the minority, as spring games across the country are major events. Big time programs nearly pack their stadiums as if it were any other game and even air their games on television so fans around the nation can watch.
Why do we love these things so much? No other sport, pro or college, puts on a similar event. The answer is clear. America just cannot get enough football.
The weeks immediately following the conclusion of March Madness often get a bad rap for the lack of exciting sporting events that take place during this time, but I think that is just unfair. The NBA and NHL are hitting their stretch runs, baseball is just getting started, college hockey's Frozen Four is this weekend, and even a 14-year old kid is competing in the Masters. There's something for everyone!
But for whatever reason, we just aren't satisfied without our precious college football. The fact that most spring games occur so soon after March Madness is a great indication of how deprived we feel once fall turns into winter and we are forced to take our games inside. Thank you, basketball, for giving us something to watch while the grass is dead and the temperatures are frigid. But now that the sun has returned and our lawns are covered in green once again, it is time for our gridiron heros to return to work and thrill us with their displays of speed and strength.
I think there is something about the scale of football that we just cannot resist. Hundreds of thousands of fans packed into massive stadiums, cheering on teams of 60 to 70 elite athletes engaged in an almost four hour war of attrition on 100-yard fields. Americans thrive on "going big." Just look at how the country was founded - we weren't satisfied with our settlements on the east coast, and we saw it as our "destiny" to go west and claim all the land that we could.
Football captures "big" better than any other sport does, and somehow college football accomplishes this better than the NFL. So for the next few weekends, we'll settle for spring games as a substitute for the real thing, and continue counting down to the first kickoff this fall.