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Let’s bask in October, always the best month in sports

All the major sports are in action; let’s have this month last all year long!

It is October, and our country’s sports fans empty a horn of plenty and the games (in all their glory) come tumbling out.

On Tuesday, MLB’s World Series and the NBA regular season begin. Over the weekend, the Major League Soccer playoffs began. Earlier in the month, the NHL began its regular season and the NFL moved into the second quarter of its 16-game regular season.

Meanwhile, big-time college football teams have begun to play the regular-season games that will decide who competes for the national championship in early 2020.

This month testifies to the variety and abundance of our country’s sports: our ability to qualify play, to circumscribe it with rules and bureaucracies. For just one example, indoor mountain climbing has gone from an oxymoron to an Olympic sport.

Nevertheless, despite so many athletes, so many games and so many sports, the chattering class in sports too often reduces all our games to the winners or losers.

We miss so much that sports have to show and tell us when we’re always watching the game scoreboards.

After all, some of the greatest athletes ever are playing now, from Simone Biles in gymnastics to Serena Williams in tennis to Tiger Woods in golf. And the lessons they and other elite athletes have to teach us about doing and being our best, about overcoming obstacles, only begin on the scoreboard. For example, long before Megan Rapinoe led her team to soccer gold in the World Cup, she’d already triumphed by living on her own terms: being out about her views and her sexuality.

Anything can happen in October, the first full month of autumn, especially in our country’s Northeast; it can be 90 degrees one day and 55 degrees the next. And anything can happen in the sports world too. Longevity can be honored when Allyson Felix, 33, outpaces her advancing age. Driven by her religious faith, the sprinter juggles the demands of being a wife and mother while winning Olympic and world championship medals. Or on Oct. 13, youth was celebrated and served when the 15-year-old Coco Gauff, driven by her faith in herself and her abilities, won her first Women’s Tennis Association title.

October can look back to summer or ahead to winter. The days grow shorter. The shadows grow longer. The time between sunrise and sunset shrinks.

It’s October, and a battle for a place as starting quarterback on the mythical All-Transfer team in college football intensifies with Jalen Hurts (Alabama to Oklahoma), Joe Burrow (Ohio State to Louisiana State) and Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) competing for the top quarterback slot on the All-Transfer team and for the Heisman Trophy.

It is October. And as the suits in the NCAA debate whether they can find it in their conception of “amateurism” to let the players in the revenue-producing sports profit from their work, the players have already become free agents. Transfers abound. With so much money potentially at stake, elite college players cannot allow themselves to be tied to specific college programs. If they don’t play, they don’t stay.

It is October, and we reflect upon Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox. In the spring, he flipped his bat and controversy ensued. In the fall, he won the American League batting championship. To paraphrase rapper Kool Moe Dee, how do you like him now? However you answer, Anderson doesn’t seem to give a flying bat flip about your response.

It’s October, and the Washington Nationals seek to do in the World Series what the Washington Mystics did in the WNBA Finals: win the franchise’s first championship.

It’s October, and “pro style” and “dual threat” stopped being just another way of designating a quarterback as being black or white in the NFL. This year, dual-threat quarterback accurately describes young black star quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans and promising young white quarterbacks such as Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.

It is October. It appears everybody is playing in the world of sports. And everybody is serious too.

A graduate of Hampton University, Jeff Rivers worked for Ebony, HBO and three daily newspapers, winning multiple awards for his columns. Jeff and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children, a son Marc and a daughter Lauren.