Some of the more popular sports leagues in the United States have their offseasons during the summer — leaving fans with far fewer options for what they can watch and enjoy.
The NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA don’t have regular-season games for people to watch during the dog days of summer, which leaves some people wondering: What can I watch? What are my choices?
Actually, there are plenty of options.
Here’s a look at 10 sports you should check out this summer, if you haven’t already.
1.) Baseball. This may be the crown jewel of the summer, and there’s still half the season left. Major League Baseball is the only one of the four major pro-sports leagues in the country that plays its games throughout the entire summer. Plus, there are hundreds of minor league baseball teams around the country along with a handful of professional independent leagues. And there’s a host of summer collegiate baseball leagues throughout the country worth checking out.
2.) Football. No NFL? No problem! There are still a few high-level types of football games that fans can watch to get their fix. Notably, the Canadian Football League also runs from June to November.
Throughout the country, there’s also a handful of men’s amateur football leagues that feature ex-college football players and high school stars. Considering how political the NFL has become these days, one of these leagues might just replace the major sports league for you permanently.
3.) Auto racing. NASCAR is one of the more popular sports leagues during the summer; contests are nationally televised, often on Sunday afternoons. Fans have an opportunity to check out some of the world’s best drivers at speeds exceeding 200 MPH.
Throughout the country, there are also hundreds of local race tracks that put on events of their own. These can provide a good opportunity for taking in a live racing event, especially if you don’t live near any NASCAR tracks.
4.) Soccer. Sure, top European soccer leagues like the Premier League and La Liga play in the fall and winter, but there’s other high-quality soccer competition to watch.
While there’s not a FIFA World Cup every year — which France just won this year — the top American talent competes during the summer. On the men’s side, Major League Soccer competes, and for women, it’s the National Women’s Soccer League, so check out some of world-class talent in these leagues.
5.) Mixed Martial Arts. It’s the world’s fastest-growing sport — and it’s only bound to get bigger.
The UFC (the Ultimate Fighting Championship) — now a multibillion-dollar industry — has matches year-round. It’s the most well-known MMA promotion, but there are a host of others plus local, independent promotions throughout the U.S. that give emerging fighters an opportunity to compete.
6.) Lacrosse. The youth participation rate for lacrosse is on the rise, so it’s worth giving other versions of this sport a chance as well. Major League Lacrosse features the nation’s top lacrosse players and competes during the summer months.
If New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has led his team to five Super Bowl championships, is a fan of the sport, then there must be some appeal to lacrosse.
7.) Golf. The PGA season heats up during the summer months with three of the four majors: the U.S. Open in June, the Open Championship in July, and the PGA Championship in August.
There are regional golf tournaments worth watching, too; golf is also a sport most people can pick up regardless of their age.
8.) Rodeo. It’s fair to say the rodeo is not exactly the most conventional sport — which is why it’s worth checking out.
In the United States, rodeo usually features many different events, including tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and barrel racing.
Independent promotions often travel the country during the summer. Normally, they don’t stay in one place for too long, but the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tends to keep track of upcoming events.
9.) Basketball. Young players hoping to crack rosters in the NBA hardly get an offseason, as they compete in the NBA Summer League in the month of July. In it, they have an opportunity to show off their ability against live competition as they fight for spots.
Plus, the top women’s league in the world, the WNBA, has a regular season that runs from May to August — virtually the opposite schedule of the NBA. It’s also worth noting that the WNBA livestreams a game per week on Twitter.
10.) Tennis. The Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Associations compete 11 months per year (January to November), but they tend to gain traction in the summer, with two of their four Grand Slam events taking place in the season. This includes the Wimbledon Championships in July and the U.S. Open in late August.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.