It was also historic, however, for what it set up on Sunday.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, via the Los Angeles Times, never before have teams from all five major professional U.S. sports leagues – NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL – played in the same metropolitan area on the same day.
On Sunday, that will happen in L.A. On Sunday, we will have our first-ever single-city “Sports Equinox.”
Sunday’s Los Angeles sports schedule
Los Angeles has nine teams to choose from. Five, and one from each of the five major leagues, will take to their respective fields/courts/ice over a period of eight-and-a-half hours on Sunday (the Dodgers and Red Sox are laughing at that time estimate):
NHL: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center, 12:30 p.m. PT
NFL: Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 1:25 p.m. PT
MLS: Houston Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy at StubHub Center, 1:30 p.m. PT
MLB: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, 5:15 p.m. PT
NBA: Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, 6:30 p.m. PT
And only when you think consider that slate a bit do you realize how remarkable and remarkably unlikely this occurrence is.
Why the Sports Equinox is so rare: Timing
There are various reasons the so-called sports equinox is unprecedented. Above all else is the coincidence of seasons – or lack thereof.
Until last season, the NBA perennially tipped off during the last week of October or first week of November. Since the 1990s, the earliest start date was Oct. 25; the latest was Nov. 6.
Baseball, meanwhile, often ended before basketball began. Between 1990 and 2008, the World Series and NBA regular season only overlapped once, in 2001.
Oh, and Major League Soccer’s inaugural season was 1996.
Plus, the NFL only occupies three days a week – and really only one. Other leagues often punt on that one day, Sunday, during football season. It’s usually a relatively sparse day in the NBA and NHL throughout the fall. So the window for a Sports Equinox was only cracked ever so slightly.
But last season, the NBA pushed its start date up to Oct. 17, elongating the overlap, giving us two NFL Sundays on which the possibility lingered. And just a year later, it’s come to fruition.
Why the Sports Equinox is so rare: Cities
Another reason the Equinox is rare: There are only 10 cities in which it could occur. Those 10 are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston/New England, the Bay Area, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis.
But until 2017, Minneapolis didn’t have an MLS team. Until 2016, Los Angeles didn’t have an NFL team. Until 2010, Philadelphia didn’t have an MLS team. Until 2005, Washington didn’t have an MLB team.
And of those 10 cities, since 2008, three – Washington, Denver and Minneapolis – haven’t hosted World Series games, another Sports Equinox prerequisite.
Oh, and NBA and NHL teams often occupy the same buildings – as they do in Los Angeles. Most cities with only one NBA team and one NHL team – unlike Los Angeles – will avoid hockey-basketball double-headers, given the difficulty of the quick hockey-to-basketball arena transformation.
But L.A. is going to pull it off on Sunday. And it’s going to make sports history.
The history of Sports Equinoxes
Just how unlikely is a single-city Sports Equinox? Well, consider that around this time last year, a four-league, country-wide Sports Equinox was considered rare. Oct. 19, 2017 was the 17th time that NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL had staged games on the same day – regardless of city.
Excluding MLS from the Equinox makes sense from a historical perspective, given the league’s relative youth. But by many measures, MLS is currently as popular as – or more popular than – the NHL. At this point, it should be included.
And its weekly schedule makes the coincidence even more incredible. There’s a decent chance we go decades waiting for the second-ever single-city Sports Equinox.
What’s at stake during the LA Sports Equinox?
Four of the five games are regular-season contests. But there’s plenty at stake for the teams involved, and for anybody who is a fan of more than one.
The Dodgers, of course, could be facing elimination – or they could be trying to take an improbable series lead.
The Kings and Clippers are playing relatively meaningless early season games. But the Rams, the only undefeated team in the NFL, are hoping to remain so. And the Galaxy need a win on the final day of the MLS season to leapfrog Real Salt Lake for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Oh, and by the way, the single biggest sporting event in the world – El Clasico, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – is also on Sunday. It kicks off at 11:15 a.m. ET/8:15 a.m. PT – while the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars will be playing an NFL game in London (9:30 a.m. ET).
So yeah, it’s going to be a pretty wild sports day all around.
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