Well, 2016 was a drama-filled year, and sports were no exception to the excitement. Among the highlights were the Olympics and two seven-game championship series filled with drama and adrenaline rushes — the World Series and NBA Finals.
Swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky joined gymnast Simone Biles in captivating the attention of millions watching the Summer Games, while bringing home an impressive gold medal haul. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108-year championship drought. The Golden State Warriors blew a 3–1 lead (heard that one before?) to help LeBron James deliver the first major championship to the city of Cleveland in 52 years.
Will 2017 be able to top that? Mark your calendars with the following must-watch sporting events, and we’ll find out.
NHL Winter Classic, Jan. 2
The Blues and Blackhawks rivalry moves outdoors, with a tilt at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The game marks the Blues’ outdoor debut. The game will be televised live on NBC.
College Football Playoff National Championship, Jan. 9
The next college football national champion will be crowned after Alabama faces Washington in the Peach Bowl and Ohio State takes on Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. The winners face off in Tampa.
U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 14–22
Start getting in the Winter Olympic sprit, with Pyeongchang just around the corner. The U.S. figure skating national championships function as the national team selection for the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, which will be held in Helsinki from March 29 to April 2.
MLB Hall of Fame Class of 2017 announced, Jan. 18
How many stars will be newly enshrined in Cooperstown? Former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines will attempt to meet the induction voting requirements in his final year of eligibility, among others.
Super Bowl LI, Feb. 5
Houston will host the Super Bowl for the third time in history. Lady Gaga will play the halftime show.
NBA All-Star Weekend, Feb. 17–19
The NBA made the right decision in pulling the game from Charlotte, in response to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law. Now the NBA’s party featuring the sport’s biggest stars will descend upon New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
World Baseball Classic, March 9–22
Baseball’s world tour returns for the first time since 2013 and will make stops in Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the United States. In the 2013 tournament, the Dominican Republic captured its first WBC title by defeating Puerto Rico in the final. The championship round will be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, March 17 to April 2
March Madness is the most wonderful time of the year. Sixty-eight teams begin the annual quest for the Final Four, which will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
MLB Opening Night, April 4
Deep breaths. A lockout was avoided in the off-season and there will be Major League Baseball in 2017. Play opens with the San Francisco Giants playing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field and the New York Yankees traveling to Tampa to face the Rays.
The Masters, April 6–9
Danny Willett stunned spectators in 2016. What will 2017 bring to Augusta?
Stanley Cup Playoffs, April 12
Will the Blackhawks win their fourth championship in seven years? Do the Penguins have what it takes to repeat? The road to the Stanley Cup begins April 12.
Kentucky Derby, May 6
The hunt for another Triple Crown winner begins at Churchill Downs, continues at the Preakness Stakes (May 20) and concludes at the Belmont Stakes (June 10).
NBA Finals, June 1
LeBron James could be seeking a second championship title for Cleveland. The Golden State Warriors could make a return to the Finals looking to avenge last year's heartbreaking loss. We could get Cavs-Warriors Round 3. Find out in June.
FIFA Confederations Cup, June 17, July 2
A little bit of a litmus test ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. You'll see Germany (2014 FIFA World Cup champions), Portugal (2016 UEFA EURO champions), Chile (2015 Copa América champions), Mexico (2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup champions), Australia (2015 AFC Asian Cup champions), New Zealand (2016 OFC Nations Cup champions) and whomever wins the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations at many of the venues that will be featured in next year's World Cup.
NBA Draft, June 22
The NBA draft lottery will be held on May 16, and a month or so later, commissioner Adam Silver will usher the next wave of college stars into the league.
Tour De France, July 1–23
Chris Froome may go for his fourth title, as the historic course will run through all five of the country's mountain ranges for the first time in 25 years.
MLB All-Star Game, July 11
This year marks the first time since the rules were changed (following the notorious 2003 tie) that the All-Star Game will not decide home field advantage for the World Series (set to begin on October 24). It will instead be awarded to the pennant champion with the superior record. But the All-Star Game should still be exciting.
World Aquatics Championships, July 14–30
Swimming’s world championships will take place in Budapest, Hungary. Die-hard Ryan Lochte fans will be disappointed, though — the six-time Olympic gold medalist is suspended and will miss the championships as penalty for his suspect behavior at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
IAAF World Championships, Aug. 4–12
Usain Bolt returns to London and will compete in his final global championship before retiring. The nine-time Olympic gold medalist will compete in the 100 meters, looking to win his fourth world championship gold in the event. Bolt has won 11 world championship medals.
Laver Cup, Sept. 22–24
In addition to the Grand Slam tournaments, tennis fans will enjoy the new Laver Cup in Prague. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are expected to team up for the Ryder Cup-style event.