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The Debate: Navigating the summer college sports doldrums

Is the off-season a time to look forward or look back?

NCAA Football: ACC Football Championship Game-Clemson vs North Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to July. Many view the middle of summer as a happy time with no school and tons of warm weather. Barbecues and pool parties abound. This is the time for family vacations and excitement.

Excitement for everyone except college sports fans, of course.

It has now been three months since college basketball season ended. Football doesn’t start again for over a month and a half. This is truly the major college sports off-season. April is spent digesting what just happened in the NCAA Tournament. May and June complete the basketball recruiting cycle. August will be spent in full preseason mode for football. So where does that leave July?

Fans have essentially two options for this time of year; look forward or look back. It is simple, this can be a time to reflect on the great achievements of the past, or a time to wholeheartedly focus on the future. When there are two potential answers, that sounds like a debate, and the best part is that has fans covered either way.

The Debate for the week of July 8: Is July a better month to look forward or look back for Tar Heel fans?

Point: Sit back, relax, and revel in the great moments of Carolina sports.

My colleague, Christian Schneider, has the summer pegged. He is in the middle of a fantastic series counting down the 25 Greatest Games in UNC Basketball History. The articles provide a must read for nostalgic Tar Heel fans of all ages.

Note: I would love to debate Christian about the most recent post. Put me squarely in the camp for leaving out the loss to Villanova. A loss that hurt that much for that long can not be the 10th greatest game ever.

And this is what the summer should be about. A fun debate over the greatest games of all time. A chance to revel in the program’s success. This is truly stress-free fandom. No worries about the perils of the upcoming season. No fretting about rankings and bowl eligibility and tournament seeding. There will be plenty of time for that in the months ahead.

This downtime is the one opportunity for fans to get lost in the past. Such memories in November and February are limited to short video montages during halftime. A chance to rest the enthusiasm, recharge the batteries, and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. As a fan, the products of years of rooting on the Heels are the memories of those games, both the outcomes and the experiences.

Enjoy them.

Counterpoint: Summer rest is for the weak of spirit, real fans have work to do in July.

If fans do not think there is a ton of Tar Heel activity in July, then they are just not paying attention. Akil Guruparan has been tracking all of the latest recruiting buzz for the Heels. His recruiting update from Friday was jammed full of good information as always, even though things have “slowed down.”

This is the obligation for fans. Just as players need practice and off-season workouts to gain victories during the season, fans must put the work in to learn about the future of the program. There is plenty of research to do on the incoming players for 2019 and a quick peak ahead to 2020 is also called for. This is a great time for UNC recruiting with the return of Mack Brown and the momentum of Roy Williams. Fans should not live in the past, they should celebrate in the present and the future.

There is also actual basketball being played this summer. The NBA summer league is in full force with plenty of recent Tar Heels playing. Pick-up games have broken out on campus, which provide a great spectacle of returning graduates versus new-comers and current players.

And then there is the newly finished turf.

Time for you to decide! Is July a chance to reflect or is it an active preseason for fans? It may be some of both. This Debate is not just about what fans do during July to stay occupied, it is about the philosophy of each individual fan. Some people love being in the moment and looking ahead. Others look for a chance to celebrate and reminisce. There is no wrong answer for Carolina fans.

As always, readers are encouraged to join in through the comments and point out what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we never thought of. Also, please feel free to provide suggestions for future topics so we can cover what interests readers and what information is needed to ensure victory when debating slow-witted friends who don’t read the articles!