November 2011 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 10/19/2011
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You may have heard about labor strife in a certain pro sports outfit, but New York City is still packed with athletic action in November. Not only are the Rangers, Jets, Giants and (hopefully, if they make the playoffs) Red Bulls all carrying the NYC banner in their respective leagues, but it's a big month for amateurs, those defenders of the purity and beauty of sporting competition. In the ING New York City Marathon, average Joes and Janes will compete alongside world champions. In the Battle of the Badges, New York's brave civil servants will take a break from fighting crime and fire to pummel one another. And student-athletes will compete at basketball, football, hockey, soccer and quidditch. Wait, no, that can't be right. Let us check our notes. Wow. Yes, it seems that there really is college quidditch. Read all about that magical game and the rest of the month's sports highlights, below.
MLS Playoffs: New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy
October 30, 3pm; Red Bull Arena
On the strength of a game-winning goal from Joel Lindpere, the Red Bulls triumphed over FC Dallas in the wild card round of Major League Soccer's playoffs by a score of 2-0. They now face Landon Donovan, David Beckham and the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Semifinals. (Yes, it's the Western Conference Semifinals, even though the Red Bulls are in the Eastern Conference.) This Sunday matchup at Red Bull Arena is the first leg of a two-game series decided by aggregate goals. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com. Go Red Bulls!
New York Rangers Hockey
Various dates and times; Madison Square Garden
Ryan Callahan and the Blueshirts enter month two of the NHL season. The first week of November is especially busy, with visits from the Anaheim Ducks (Novemeber 3), Montreal Canadiens (November 5) and the newly resurrected Winnipeg Jets (November 6) all in the same week. If you can't make any of these games but want to catch some hockey soon, peruse the Rangers' full schedule.
ING New York City Marathon
November 6, 9:40am; starting on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and finishing at Central Park
This is the participatory sporting event to end all participatory sporting events, during which about 45,000 competitors endure a punishing 26.2-mile journey through all five boroughs. Amateurs run alongside professional stars as millions of fans cheer them every step of the way. Marathoners compete not only on two legs but also on prostheses and wheels. To learn about Achilles International, which helps people with disabilities race, read our article about the organization and its runners.
Big East Soccer Championships
November 11, 5pm; November 13, noon; Red Bull Arena
See some of the region's best college soccer teams—including (if they advance to the semifinal round) local favorite St. John's, who makes frequent appearances in the College Cup—battle at Red Bull Arena for an automatic bid in the national tournament. The competition promises to be fierce, and it's just $10 to sit on the lower level. For more info and tickets, visit tickets.newyorkredbulls.com.
Rutgers vs. Army (Football)
November 12, 3:30pm; Yankee Stadium
The Black Knights and the Scarlet Knights clash on the gridiron in the Bronx. As of press time, Army's season has been uneven, but Rutgers is off to a 5–1 start. If they keep it up, New Brunswick's team could find themselves in the thick of the Big East title race. Having said that, optimistic outlooks on the Jets and Yankees from our "October 2011 Sports Calendar" turned out to be overly exuberant, so results may vary. By the way, this very same Yankee Stadium will host the Pinstripe Bowl in December, featuring teams from the Big East and the Big XII (conferences that may, by that time, be called the Big Entire Country and the Big XI).
More College Football
All month long; Coffey Field, Lawrence A. Wien Stadium and Wagner College Stadium
New York City is not College Station, State College or Ann Arbor, but it is home to three lovable Division I (Football Championship Subdivision) football teams who will be in action throughout November. Check the Fordham Rams', Columbia Lions' and Wagner Seahawks' websites for complete schedules. And note that the Lions play at a stadium that Sports Illustrated called one of America's most beautiful places to watch a football game.
Quidditch World Cup
November 12–13, 9am; Icahn Stadium
You may think that it's physically impossible to play quidditch, the sport from the Harry Potter books, just because human beings can't fly and there's no such thing as a snitch—the elusive, enchanted flying ball whose capture ends the game. But that doesn't stop the members of the International Quidditch Association from running at full speed with brooms between their legs and striving to catch a snitch dangling from the waistband of a real, live running, cycling and/or hiding human being (see proof here). Among the many college teams competing are New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State University and the University of Kansas, not to mention numerous Ivy League institutions. Important: according to the official rule book, "Beaters may not use a bludger to block the quaffle."
Champions Classic: Duke vs. Michigan State and Kentucky vs. Kansas
November 15, 7pm; Madison Square Garden
No disrespect to Belmont University—we love underdogs and would love to see the Bruins defeat Duke—but the smart money says that the Duke vs. Michigan State half of this doubleheader will present Mike Krzyzewski with a chance to break Bob Knight's coaching record, so long as the Blue Devils take care of Belmont and Presbyterian in the season's first two games. The second game of the event pits the Kentucky Wildcats against the Kansas Jayhawks. As a kickoff to the basketball season at Madison Square Garden, it's not too shabby.
2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer: Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State and St. John's vs. Arizona
November 17, 7pm; November 18, 4:30pm; Madison Square Garden
New York City's own St. John's returns to the Garden, hoping to build on last year's NCAA tournament appearance. The 2K Sports Classic should provide a nice early test for the Red Storm. The rest of the field comprises Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Arizona—not a pushover in the bunch.
34th Annual Empire State Golden Arm Tournament of Champions
November 17, 1pm; Port Authority Bus Terminal
Dozens of men and women compete to prove the strength of their biceps, forearms and wrists. In the past, this action-packed arm-wrestling event has drawn onlookers and contestants from all over the world—organizers say participants have hailed from six different continents. In more great news for the frugal fan, spectator admission is free. If you want to compete, it’s $25. For more information, visit nycarms.com.
More College Basketball
Various dates and times; citywide
Oh, by the way, New York City's local men's and women's college hoops squads hit the hardwood this month in gyms throughout the five boroughs. Division I teams St. John's University, Manhattan College, Wagner College, Long Island University, St. Francis College, Fordham University and Columbia University all begin the season with hopes of reaching the Big Dance, while Division III New York University and representatives from various CUNY schools aspire to qualify for their own lower-profile postseason hoedown. Last year, both the St. John's Red Storm and the LIU Blackbirds reached the NCAA tournament.
Battle of the Badges (Boxing)
November 19, 8pm; The Theater at Madison Square Garden
The New York City Police Department and Fire Department are known for protecting the citizenry from felons and flames—but, as the Madison Square Garden website promises, when they step into the boxing ring, "nobody can protect them from each other!" Indeed, this event pits New York's Finest against New York's Bravest in a series of slugfests. Who will win when NYPD gets pugilistic and FDNY fights more than fire? As is the case with their lifesaving work, the answer must be the public at large—it's sure to be an entertaining evening.
NYC Mayor's Cup Soccer
November 19–20, 11am; Poly Prep
Boys' and girls' all-star teams from public, Catholic and independent schools compete for the right to call themselves, naturally, Best in the City. For more info, visit the official NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
WWE Survivor Series
November 20, 8pm; Madison Square Garden
While not strictly a sporting event, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is certainly one of America's most popular and enduring pastimes. WWE's mixture of athleticism and theatricality has hooked generations of viewers, and, on November 20, some of its biggest personalities will clash at the "World's Most Famous Arena." Among them: John Cena, Randy Orton and The Rock. The event is sold out but will be on Pay-Per-View. For more information, visit thegarden.com.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles
November 20, 8:20pm; MetLife Stadium
The Giants have only one home game in November, but it's a big one—a nationally televised contest against the hated Philadelphia Eagles. Big Blue's win over Michael Vick's team helped set a positive tone for Eli Manning and company earlier in the season, and fans will hope for a similar boost this time. If you can't make it to this game, check the Giants' full schedule to see who they're playing during the rest of the season.
NIT Season Tip-Off
November 23, 7pm; November 25, 2:30pm; Madison Square Garden
For some particularly obsessive fans, Thanksgiving week is not about turkey/Tofurky, stuffing and quality time with family members—it's about getting an early look at some of the nation's top college basketball teams. That's because the Wednesday and Friday bracketing Turkey Day are the dates when the NIT Season Tip-Off decides its champion. This year, such prominent programs as Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Stanford and George Mason hope to reach the semifinals and finals at Madison Square Garden, but must first fend off scrappy underdogs in the earlier rounds.
Boston University vs. Cornell (Hockey)
November 26, 8pm; Madison Square Garden
Boston University hasn't had a football team since the 1990s, and Cornell hasn't won an Ivy title on the gridiron in two decades. But these two northeastern schools both have marquee hockey programs—Cornell makes frequent postseason appearances and mounted the NCAA's only undefeated season back in the late '60s, and BU has accumulated five national championships and 21 trips to the "Frozen Four." Which is to say that, for those in the know, this matchup is kind of a big deal—which is why it has drawn huge crowds to MSG in the past few years. Both schools have solid alumni bases in the City, so expect a boisterous gathering.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
November 27, 1pm; MetLife Stadium
By the time the surprising Buffalo Bills come to town, let's hope that Mark "Mr. Handsome" Sanchez and the Jets will have weathered the turbulence that left them under .500 at mid-October. From the looks of it, it will take the team's best effort to defeat their upstate divisional rivals. Check the Jets' full schedule to see what they're up to in December and beyond.