August 2011 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 07/20/2011
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Roll out the red carpet, call the paparazzi and get your autograph books ready, because August is a star-studded month in NYC sports. There's the US Open, America's most prestigious tennis event—the draw is likely to feature big names like Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters and Rafael Nadal. The Barclays Golf Tournament, too, brings some serious fame credentials: last year, the affair brought Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods to the New York City area. The Yankees' Derek Jeter, already one of the most recognizable personalities in sports, is still basking in the glow of his 3,000th hit as the Bronx Bombers make a pennant run (and, of course, the Mets fight to finish strong and—stranger things have happened—somehow claw their way back into the Wild Card race). On August 28, Red Bull Arena will light up with celebrity wattage as David Beckham—he of Posh and Becks, new parents to Harper Seven—and the LA Galaxy come to town (and, oh, yeah, some guy named Landon Donovan plays for the team, too). Finally, while they might not make the front page of Us Weekly, please give some of your most enthusiastic applause to the men and women competing in the World Police & Fire Games, whose famous heroism extends far beyond the field of play. For more information about these and the rest of the month's sports highlights, read on.
Nautica New York City Triathlon
August 7, first wave starts at 5:50am; starting at West 98th Street and the Hudson River
New Yorkers are renowned multitaskers, always juggling priorities in this fast-moving metropolis. This race challenges participants to do three things at once (well, in rapid succession)—swim, cycle and run a grueling course (1,500 meters in the water, 40K on bike and 10K on foot). Sorry, potential competitors, registration is all filled up—but this event is a sight to behold for spectators as more than 3,000 athletes dive into the Hudson, pedal along the Henry Hudson Parkway and then somehow muster the strength to run through Central Park, the final leg of the race.
EmblemHealth Bronx Tennis Open
August 7–14, various times; Crotona Park
If you can't wait for the US Open to satisfy your tennis cravings, there's a great appetizer in the Bronx. This warm-up tournament features a number of female professional players who will soon participate in the main event, and you can watch them play here for free (except the finals on August 14, to which admission costs a paltry—but still more than zero—$10). As an added bonus, the festivities also include free tennis lessons for children. For more information, visit emblemhealth.com.
Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
August 13–14, 9am; Flushing Meadows–Corona Park
In addition to the athletes speeding their boats through Meadow Lake, this event features an array of entertainment to mark the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Past years have included kung fu demonstrations by the Shaolin Temple warrior monks; traditional music, dance and art from China, Mexico and Peru; and a diverse, delicious selection of international foods—so you can expect a similarly fun-filled, multicultural weekend this time around as well. Of course, the central happenings are still the dragon boat races themselves, during which more than 100 teams vie for trophies and cash prizes all weekend—piloting long, colorful vessels that are as delightful a spectacle as the competition itself.
New York Red Bulls Soccer
August 13, 7:30pm; August 28, 7pm; Red Bull Arena
With superstars Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, plus a supporting cast headlined by Joel Lindpere, the Red Bulls' Most Valuable Player for the 2010 season—and fresh off the buzz generated by what is sure to be a spectacular 2011 MLS All-Star Game at Red Bull Arena—New York's footballers are primed to make a run at the MLS Cup. In fact, the team's sporting director, Erik Solér, has even guaranteed that they'll win the Eastern Conference. On August 13, the Red Bulls take on the Chicago Fire, and on August 28, they face David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the rest of the LA Galaxy. Plus, the team will hold an open practice at Chelsea Waterside Park on Tuesday, August 9 from 10:30–12:30pm. For a full accounting of games taking place all season long, check the Red Bulls' full schedule.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby Free Open Scrimmage
August 22, 6:30pm; Uniqlo Roller Rink
The competitors of Gotham Girls Roller Derby skate fast and hit hard. You may not yet know what a jammer, a blocker and a pivot are, but longtime followers can tell you that it won't be long before teams like the Queens of Pain and Brooklyn Bombshells turn you into a hardcore fan; and admission to this outdoor scrimmage is 100% free. No word on whether the league's customary spirit-boosting "jeerleaders" will be on hand for the event, but we can hope. For details, visit gothamgirlsrollerderby.com.
The Barclays Golf Tournament
August 25–28, gates open at 7am; Plainfield Country Club
The world's best golfers play within driving distance of New York City in this event, the first stop of the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedExCup. While, as per PGA rules, the field won't be officially released until the week before the tournament, last year's tournament featured Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Tiger Woods. With so much at stake, it's reasonable to expect a similarly stellar lineup this time around.
World Police & Fire Games
August 26–September 5, various times and venues
Please note: due to Hurricane Irene, this event has been canceled on Sunday, August 28. Please visit the official event website for updates. Approximately 15,000 police officers and firefighters from around the globe compete in more than 60 events including wrestling, softball, road racing, ice hockey and basketball at venues throughout the City during this, the world's second-largest multisport competition (behind the Summer Olympics). For more information, visit 2011wpfg.org.
Lunatic All-Star Challenge
August 27, noon; Coney Island
Take in slam-dunk and three-point contests, an invitational hoops tournament, the antics of the irrepressible Harlem Wizards and more at this Boardwalk basketball blowout. As if all that's not enough to lure fans to the Boardwalk, New York Knicks sparkplug Landry Fields will be there, too. For more info, visit lunaparknyc.com.
August 27–September 11, various times; Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
More than 700,000 people attended the US Open last year, and more than 70 million watched the event on TV, both to see great tennis and to be part of a sport that has produced icons—like the Williams sisters, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova—who have ascended from mere sports stardom to full-blown celebrity. Make sure to get your tickets early if you want good seats for prime matches.
North American Table Tennis New York City Open
August 27–28, 9am–6pm; Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Full-size tennis isn't the only sport being played on a rectangular court bifurcated by a net in New York City this month. Its table-bound cousin makes a big racket, too, during this event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center—and the fast-paced action is free to watch. There are matches all weekend long, but the finals are expected to take place on Sunday sometime between 4 and 6pm. And if the tournament inspires you to play yourself, check out our roundup of places in NYC to get your 'pong on.
Baseball Pennant Races
All month long; Yankee Stadium and Citi Field
The Yankees and Mets aren't quite at the home stretch yet, but their playoff races are taking shape. We expected the Yankees to be in the thick of things, and they've delivered. A home series against the Tampa Bay Rays could help the Bronx Bombers pull away from their divisional rivals. But what of the Mets? Ravaged by injuries and controversy, some pundits wrote them off at the start of the season. The team on the field played well, though, and found themselves on the outskirts of Wild Card contention at the All-Star break. While they are a ways back, they do play the Atlanta Braves, the team they're chasing, six times at home this month.
Minor League Baseball's Stretch Run
All month long; MCU Park and Richmond County Bank Ballpark
Not to be outdone by their big brothers, NYC's minor league squads wrap up their regular seasons (they do have a few games the first week of September, but this is their last full month). Their waterfront ballparks have stunning views, and the teams go all-out on promotions—attendees at any given game might see fireworks, get a free jersey or even be able to run the bases.
New York Liberty Basketball
All month long; Prudential Center
NYC's WNBA team will spend the next three summers in Newark, NJ, as Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations. We say you should cross the Hudson River and check them out—the Prudential Center's just a PATH train ride away from Midtown or Lower Manhattan, and the Libs look poised to make a deep postseason run after finishing last season with a 22–12 record and starting 2011 strong—as of press time, the team is in a tight race for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty will play WNBA rivals throughout the month at the Prudential Center; check out their full schedule here.