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Ways to forget about the NFL lockout

by Christian Bryant

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL

The Union of European Football Associations Champions League showcases not only the best European football clubs, but the best football players the world over, with Barcelona, Manchester United, Shalke and Real Madrid in contention for the highly coveted trophy this year. Down and out NFL fans can count on ESPN-worthy highlights from the Champions League to distract them from lockout talk for at least a month.

NBA PLAYOFFS

The Boston Celtics trounced the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, making them the first team to advance to the semi-finals. The Los Angeles Lakers, the best assemblage of playoff-ready veterans, are currently in a dogfight with the New Orleans Hornets after an inflamed Chris Paul put up a triple-double in a Hornets win last Sunday. Miami, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Atlanta are all looking to put away their opponents after taking commanding leads in their respective series’.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Barry Bonds’ legal troubles in the latest installment of the “steroids crusade” rages on while the Philadelphia Phillies hold the best winning percentage in baseball. Fans should be on the lookout for cleared bullpens, vein-throbbing arguments between managers and umps, funky windups and dads catching fly balls in one hand with their infant babies in the other.

UFC

If you miss the physical contact provided by NFL programming, make sure to catch the upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship events. Georges St. Pierre will square off against Jake Shields this Saturday with Brock Lesnar taking on Junior Dos Santos on June 11.

PIEDMONT TRIAD MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Now is a great time to take yourself out to a ball game. The Greensboro Grasshoppers and the Winston-Salem Dash are both just getting warm in their 130-game seasons, which last until September. What you can expect are months of great promotions like post-game fireworks, Family Sunday Fundays, Free Kids’ Zone Admission and (of course) Thirsty Thursdays.

ADULT SPORTS LEAGUES

The parks and recreation departments of Winston-Salem and Greensboro offer several sports leagues for grown men and women to shine like the pros or make complete asses of themselves. If flag football doesn’t tickle your fancy, other options include softball, basketball and dodgeball.

FOOTBALL VIDEO GAMES

Madden NFL ’12 will be available for Sony Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 consoles on Aug. 30 and the Sony Playstation 3 console on Aug. 31. For college football fans, you can play as your favorite future draft picks in NCAA Football ’12 for Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 consoles on July 12.

OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVALS

Namely MerleFest in Wilkesboro, April 28-May 1; the Carolina Blues Festival in Downtown Greensboro on May 7 and, if you’re up for the trip, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., June 9-12.

POLITICAL THEATER

With President Obama announcing his candidacy for reelection and Donald Trump threatening to run for POTUS, there’s no doubt that the next 18 months will be a media frenzy that will help set the stage for an eventful 2012 presidential election.

SUMMER MOVIES

Summer 2011 is the summer of the sequel, the summer of the comic-book movie and the summer of the retreaded thriller. Go see one on a Sunday. Maybe after all of this, NFL ball will resume… maybe.

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