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Favorite time of the year

To describe the news from the past two weeks as depressing is definitely an understatement.

The devastation created by Hurricane Katrina, the seemingly never-ending war in Iraq and the prospect of G.W. Bush appointing not one, but two new justices to the Supreme Court, one to serve as the new Chief Justice. I shudder when I think about the possibilities.

Even considering these events, this time of year always brings a smile to my face.

The cooler weather the past few days means one thing. No, not the end of summer, but the beginning of a great time if you are a sports fan.

College football games began last week and high school football started a few weeks ago, but the football season officially starts today.

My beloved Tar Heels travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech this afternoon. The Heels are breaking in a new quarterback; Tech beat Auburn last week and John Bunting is still Carolina’s coach. It doesn’t look good, but that’s why I love this time of year; the Heels are undefeated and I am a glutton for punishment.

Like I do every season, I read countless preseason articles about the Heels, memorize every player’s number, position on the depth chart and speed in the 40.

Like most sports fan, I succumb to the propaganda machine surrounding my favorite team. I convince myself the Heels will actually win their season opener and have a successful season, only to watch them lose and spend the next three months clamoring for a new coach. It is a vicious, but surprisingly addictive cycle.

Added to my usual fall sports excitement is the opportunity to cover high school football games for the News-Herald.

I haven’t been this close to the action since I starred, sorry, played on my middle school football team. I was a receiver on a team that dominated everyone we played and only gave up six points the entire season. Unfortunately for me, the team ran the ball 90 percent of the time, so I didn’t catch too many passes. The coaches did trust me to run in the play calls to the huddle.

I think the National Football League started last night, but after witnessing Ozzy Osbourne erupt out of a giant football helmet, I quickly changed the channel. I’ll check back on Sunday.

Major League Baseball’s season is winding down and the Atlanta Braves looked poised to win their division for the 800th year in a row. Common logic tells me the Braves will only let me down in the playoffs, but this year’s mix of several talented rookies and a resurgent Andruw Jones provides an exciting story line.

I think the Nascar season may be winding down, but I’ll refrain from any wisecracks.

Finally, the end of summer means the beautiful game is everywhere. Many high school and college soccer teams are starting their season along with most professional leagues around the world. Major League Soccer teams are fighting for playoffs berths.

It’s not easy being a soccer fan in the U.S. as evidenced by last week. The U.S. Men’s Soccer Team played Mexico last Saturday night in a huge match with a berth into the 2006 World Cup on the line. ESPN2 usually televises World Cup qualifiers, but the Georgia Bulldogs were playing that football powerhouse Boise State and the Deuce bumped the soccer game. There was much gnashing of teeth in the soccer community and it looked bleak, but ESPN threw us a bone and broadcast the game on ESPN Classic.

Just in case you missed it, the U.S. defeated the Mexicans 2 – 0.

See you at the game.