Most summers, it's enough to look forward to baseball pennant races and NFL training camps, but every four years, things are a little bit different. The 2012 Summer Olympics are set to kick off in London on July 27 and run through August 12. As is the case with most Olympic games, this year is full of intriguing storylines that will have millions of viewers across the globe glued to their televisions.
Will Michael Phelps continue his streak?
Phelps made quite a splash at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. After winning six gold medals four years prior, Phelps came to China and put on one of the most impressive performances in Olympic history. He competed in eight events and took home eight gold medals, giving him the record for most golds won in a single games.
While it will be nearly impossible for Phelps to top his performance in Beijing, it will be interesting to see how he competes. He has stated publicly that this will likely be his last Olympics, and he definitely will not be doing eight events like he did in 2008 and 2004. One thing's for sure, however, he will leave it all in the pool.
Can the men's basketball team repeat?
It was not that long ago that taking home a gold medal in men's basketball seemed like a given. Everything changed in 2004 when a talented roster settled for bronze, but after regrouping with a renewed focus the U.S. brought back the gold in 2008. So will they be able to make it two games in a row in London?
Given the amount of talent that the U.S. will be bringing to the Olympics, there's no reason they shouldn't take home to gold. Many of the best players in the NBA will be making the trip including Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Plus, with a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski, the team should come out on top.
All eyes on the track
Although there are usually many compelling storylines on the track, this year is especially interesting. Jamaica's Usain Bolt will earn a lot of focus after the display he put on in Beijing. Four years ago, Bolt set world records in the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes en route to three gold medals.
Outside of Bolt, many fans are interested to see how American Lolo Jones fares. Th 29-year-old Jones will be looking for redemption in the 100 meter hurdles. In 2008, she was on her way to a victory when she clipped the penultimate hurdle and settled for seventh.
It seems like not long ago the New York Giants had just stunned the New England Patriots once again to take home their second Super Bowl title in five years, but the 2012 season is almost upon us. Organized team activities have already begun, the top draft picks are starting to work out, and every team has entered summer with big hopes. Like any NFL season, this year is chock full of interesting storylines. Here's a look at some of the most compelling.
How will Peyton Manning fare in Denver?
Peyton Manning was the face of the Indianapolis Colts for more than a decade. He brought them a Super Bowl title and made them the most consistent team in the league. But after he had to sit out last season, he was released and replaced by number one overall pick Andrew Luck. Now he has to start anew as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. So, how will he do?
A lot of his success depends on his health. Manning has undergone numerous surgeries over the last 18 months, and nobody is sure how it will affect how he throws. If he is back to his old self, chances are he'll be very successful. With a stout defense and a talented supporting cast including running back Willis McGahee and receiver Demaryius Thomas, Manning may lead the Broncos back to the playoffs.
Can Robert Griffin revive the Redskins?
Although fans paid a lot of attention to Luck's arrival in Indianapolis, perhaps more interesting is whether Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin can turn the Redskins luck around. Washington has not been to the playoffs since 2007, and have been woefully inconsistent over the last several years.
One of the biggest concerns for Washington has been quarterback play, and they believe Griffin is the future of the franchise. They have great reason to believe so. He has a strong arm, quick feet and was one of the smartest players in the NCAA. With the guidance of Mike Shanahan, Washington should compete in the NFC East this year.
Will the Patriots rebound?
New England cruised to its fifth Super Bowl appearance in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, but once again were turned back by the New York Giants. Will the duo be able to come back and get one last Super Bowl? It's very likely.
Along with Brady, the Patriots return a strong corps of offensive weapons including tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez along with wide receiver Wes Welker and new running back Joseph Addai, the offense will surely put up point. The only question mark is defense. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are both back, and with some smart draft picks, the defensive side of the ball has improved.
Tons of great matchups and storylines to watch this year. We can't wait! Check out our 2012 NFL Tickets and see your favorite team fight for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Though soccer has yet to enjoy the widespread popularity in the United States that it does throughout the rest of the world, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years. Thanks to some dynamic players and an impressive performance in the 2010 World Cup, soccer is as big in the United States as it has ever been, and there are a number of 2012 International Soccer Matches in the U.S. slated for the coming months.
AS Roma vs. Zaglebie Lubin, July 22 at Wrigley Field
Not all high profile games in the United States feature American teams, and this is a perfect example. Soccer will be played at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1984, and organizers certainly picked two big-name teams for the occasion.
The game has been dubbed Friendly and the Confines, and welcomes two of the most popular teams in Europe. Italy's AS Roma has been playing soccer for more than 84 years, yet the club has never played Poland's Zaglebie Lubin, which has been around since 1945. Even the most casual soccer fan can appreciate the historic match-up between these two clubs.
Three days later, AS Roma will be back in action at Boston's Fenway Park when it takes on Liverpool before wrapping up its United States tour in New York.
U.S. Men's National Team vs. Jamaica, September 11 at Columbus Crew Stadium
While many international matches are friendly exhibitions, such is not the case with this crucial late summer match-up. Jamaica comes to Columbus, Ohio, for a semifinal round qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup, which is slated to be held in Brazil.
Aside from being the next step in qualifying for the World Cup, there is a great deal at stake during this match and it has enough compelling story lines to attract casual fans. Perhaps most significantly, the U.S Men's National team has never lost a match in Columbus, nor have they ever lost to Jamaica.
U.S. Women's National Team vs. Canada, June 30 at Rio Tinto Stadium
The men aren't the only team in action this summer. Just weeks before the Summer Olympics kicks off in London, the women's team will be hitting the pitch in Utah to play our neighbors to the north.
Although a friendly match, it should give U.S. fans a chance to get a feeling for the women's team's chances at taking home the gold from London.