September 2011 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 08/24/2011
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The summer is nearly over and harvest season is nigh, in the world of sports as much as anywhere else. After sowing the seeds of practice and nourishing the soil of competition, New York City's athletes hope their efforts yield a bumper crop of championships this fall. (Personally, we're gearing up for the Olympics of Strained Extended Metaphors). After a long season, the Yankees are just a month away from the playoffs and the pursuit of a 28th World Series title. Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls, too, jostle for postseason position on the pitch, as the New York Liberty do the same on the hardwood. Meanwhile, on the gridiron, the Giants and Jets start their seasons with dreams of Super Bowl glory down the road. For more information about these and the rest of the month's sports highlights, read on.
World Police & Fire Games
August 26–September 5, various times and venues
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.
August 29–September 11, various times; USTA 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.
Governors Island Swim
September 10, 2:48pm; Governors Island
In theory, this swim features excellent views of Governors Island, Manhattan, Jersey City, Staten Island and Brooklyn. In practice, racing two miles in the open water might require so much concentration—not to mention huffing and puffing in mid-stroke—that anyone participating would be hard-pressed to actually enjoy said views. But for those who do take the plunge, it's bound to be a challenging and rewarding experience. For more information and to sign up, visit nycswim.org.
New York Red Bulls Soccer
September 10, 7:30pm; September 21, 8pm; and September 24, 7:30pm; Red Bull Arena
Thierry Henry, Rafael Márquez and the rest of New York's footballers continue their quest to capture the MLS Cup with home games against the Vancouver Whitecaps (September 10), Real Salt Lake (September 21) and the Portland Timbers (September 24). As an added bonus, an NYPD vs. FDNY match will follow the Red Bulls-Timbers contest. At press time, the Red Bulls find themselves in a tight Eastern Conference race, and these matches will be key as they strive to secure home field advantage in the playoffs. Check out the Red Bulls' full schedule here.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
September 10, 8:30pm; Hunter College Sportsplex
The competitors of Gotham Girls Roller Derby skate fast and hit hard. You may not know what a jammer, blocker and pivot are when you enter the gym, but longtime followers can tell you that it won't be long before the Queens of Pain and Brooklyn Bombshells turn you into a hardcore fan. As if the action in the rink weren't enough, the event also features spirit-boosting "jeerleaders." For details, visit gothamgirlsrollerderby.com.
New York Jets vs. Dallas Cowboys
September 11, 8:20pm; New Meadowlands Stadium
The Jets, led by truculent coach Rex Ryan and GQ coverboy/
quarterback Mark "Mr. Handsome" Sanchez, are on the hunt for their first Super Bowl win since 1969. Fresh off two straight trips to the AFC Championship, Gang Green is primed to take the next step—beginning on September 11 against the Cowboys, who hope to exorcize the demons of a dreadful 2010. If you can't catch this one, check out the Jets' full schedule.
New York Road Runners Races
Fitness Mind, Body, Spirit Games: September 17, 9am; Central Park
Fifth Avenue Mile: September 24, 9am; starting at Fifth Avenue near 80th Street
ING New York City Marathon Tune-Up: September 25, 7am; Central Park
This month's New York Road Runners events give local athletes of all ages the chance to stay in shape and run distances ranging from one to 18 miles. If you're a spectator, we particularly recommend dropping by the Fifth Avenue Mile on September 24. It's a quick race—the men's winner should cross the finish line in under four minutes, and the women's champ won't take much longer—and it's an invigorating sight to see the athletes stampeding down a thoroughfare that would ordinarily be quiet at 9am on a Saturday morning. Feel like hitting the asphalt yourself? Visit nyrr.org for a full schedule of upcoming events.
Liberty Cup Football: Fordham vs. Columbia
September 17, 1pm; Coffey Field
The Fordham Rams and the Columbia Lions renew their annual rivalry, this time at Fordham's Jack Coffey Field. The Rams will come into the game fresh off a tilt with defending Big East champions Connecticut (Fordham's tough schedule also includes a game against Army and only four home contests—quite a challenge for a humble Patriot League school.) The contest is the season opener for the Lions, who will play a full Ivy League slate this fall at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium. Completing NYC's Division I college football picture, Wagner kicks off its 2011 season against St. Francis (PA) on September 3.
New York Liberty Playoff Game
September 17, 4pm; 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 on September 17, the Liberty host the Indiana Fever in a first-round WNBA playoff game with a trip to the conference finals on the line. Visit nyliberty.com for ticket info.
NYC Century Bike Tour
September 18, first start at 6am; beginning at Central Park and Prospect Park
Escape New York Bike Ride
September 24, first start at 7am; beginning at Sakura Park
September brings two big cycling events to the City. The NYC Century Bike Tour, proceeds from which support Transportation Alternatives, invites riders to pedal routes ranging from 15 to 100 miles (hence "century" in the name). The paths pass through some of the most scenic parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. As for the Escape New York bike ride, we have an inherent bias against any event claiming that New York City is something to "escape." Still, we have to admit that a 50- to 100-mile ride along the Hudson River with views of the Palisades does sound quite agreeable. Three separate routes—all detailed on the Escape New York website—depart at 7am, 8am and 9am. The ride promises to be a pleasant excursion. But an "escape"? Not really. Thankfully, you and your bike will end up right back in the City when it's all over.
Queens Strongest Arm Championships
September 18, 1pm; Queens County Farm Museum
The Queens County Fair has a small-town feel that belies its setting in America's foremost metropolis, and an arm-wrestling contest may be the ideal sporting event for such a shindig. Watch burly men and women compete to prove the mightiness of their biceps, wrists and forearms—and while you're at the Queens County Farm Museum, take in a full day of such old-fashioned diversions as carnival rides, an "amazing maize maze" and even livestock competitions right here in the big city.
New York Giants vs. St. Louis Rams
September 19, 8:30pm; New Meadowlands Stadium
Eli Manning and the Giants—coming off last year's 10–6 campaign—hope that 2011 brings bigger success. Manning has become one of the league's best passers, though he will be targeting an unproven group of receivers. The Giants' defense should remain solid, though (especially with Osi Umenyiora back in the fold), and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs give them a formidable backfield. Even aside from the product on the field, attendees are sure to have a good time at a Giants game—it's a full-day experience from the first moment of tailgating until the last cheers emerge from the boisterous crowd. Intrigued, but can't make the opener? Peruse the Giants' full schedule.
New York City Hear the Ball
September 24, 3:30pm; North Meadow, Central Park
The Long Island Bombers take on a team representing WFAN 660 in a game of beep baseball. Beep baseball, in short, is a baseball game in which vision-impaired athletes keep track of a ball that beeps and bases that buzz. If you're interested in a fun, free afternoon in the park, come by and watch these competitors dive for grounders, smack line drives and motor from base to base, aided by some sounds of the game above and beyond the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. Show up early for a vendor fair, running from 1–3pm, and learn about services for people with vision disabilities.
New York Urban League Football Classic
September 24, 3:30pm; New Meadowlands Stadium
The Howard University Bison and the Morgan State Bears compete for gridiron bragging rights in East Rutherford. For many fans, the schools' marching bands alone are worth the price of admission (which, we must note, is one of the area's best football bargains—there aren't too many opportunities to sit in the lower bowl of New Meadowlands Stadium for $25). The troupes' lively performances entertain even those who can scarcely tell a linebacker from a halfback.
Baseball's Stretch Run
All month long; Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, MCU Park and Richmond County Bank Ballpark
In September, the Yankees aim to solidify their playoff position and finish strong en route to what they hope will be a 28th World Series championship. The biggest series of the month pits the Bronx Bombers against their rivals, the Boston Red Sox, from the 23rd through the 25th; it could very well be a preview of next month's American League Championship Series. The Mets finally fell out of contention after a valiant struggle, but the end of their season will be more hopeful than in recent years as manager Terry Collins aims to learn which players will help the team make a more sustained run next year. Plus, we're sure R.A. Dickey will continue to be Major League Baseball's Twitter MVP all month long. To explore your options, check out the full schedules for the Yankees and Mets. In the minors, the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees finished their regular seasons in the first week of September—and the bitter rivals begin the playoffs against one another in a "Verrazano-Narrows Series." For details, visit brooklyncyclones.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Cross-Country
October 1, 1pm; Van Cortlandt Park
Regarding this event's presence on the September Sports Calendar: we wanted to make sure you had plenty of notice for the race, which features 4,500 high school athletes chugging along for 5 kilometers (that's 3.1 miles, Americans) in pursuit of the coveted distinction "Best in the City." Distance runners demonstrate considerable endurance, determination and (perhaps most of all) pain tolerance, and often don't get the recognition with which their football- and basketball-playing classmates are showered. Come out and show them some love. For more info, check the NYC Mayor's Cup facebook page.