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The Sports Equinox: The history of the rare event and why it’s occurred more frequently in recent years

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It’s rare for the stars to perfectly align when it comes to the Big Four sports leagues, and the occasion is so infrequent that it has its own name: the Sports Equinox.

However, on Sunday, October 27, sports fans will be able to pick their poison for the 21st time in recorded history (according to FiveThirtyEight), with action across the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL.

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Fans lucked out (or now face some adversity if you’re one that is focused on just one screen) when the Astros forced a fifth game in the World Series against the Nationals, leading to an 8:07 p.m. EST matchup on FOX to wrap up the weekend.

According to FanDuel, the day will feature a combined 26 games across all four leagues, with an impressive slate of NFL games throughout the day, a primetime battle between a Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs offense against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and a wide variety of games across both the NBA and NHL.

Chiefs Packers Football

Some highlights for October 27, 2019 include:

  • Astros vs. Nationals in Game 5 of the 2019 World Series at 8:07 p.m. EST
  • Browns vs. Patriots at 4:25 p.m. EST
  • Packers vs. Chiefs on Sunday Night Football at 8:25 p.m. EST
  • Warriors vs. Thunder at 3:30 p.m. EST
  • Bruins vs. Rangers at 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Anaheim Ducks vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights at 8:00 p.m. EST

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Last year, fans got a special treat, with two Sports Equinoxes in the span of 10 days. One occurred on October 18, with the Red Sox squaring off with the Astros in the ALCS, LeBron James’ regular season debut as a member of the Lakers, a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Broncos and Cardinals, and nine NHL games.

Then, the Red Sox and Dodgers battled in Game 5 of the World Series on October 28, with a full Sunday slate of NFL games that included a Saints-Vikings matchup in primetime, and numerous NBA and NHL games.

Los Angeles had a rare equinox of its own on that night, with teams representing the city from all four of the major leagues playing in one day: the Dodgers, Clippers, Rams and Kings. The feat had only been accomplished once before, with the city of Phoenix enjoying a Game 7 win for the Diamondbacks in the World Series, and losses from the Cardinals, Coyotes and Suns. 

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The Sports Equinox may not seem as special this year given how many of them there have been in the last few years. For instance, fans have experienced four in the last two years alone and six in the last five years, not even counting this year’s eclipse.

But, sports fanatics these days have to realize how spoiled they have been over the last half of a decade. Sure, there have been tons of these days over the last few years, but fans went through a drought between 1985 and 2001; a full 16 years without a Sports Equinox.

Plus, between 1971 and 1980, there were nine Sports Equinoxes, with none between 1981 and 1985.

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So, why have there been so many of these alignments over the last few years? A few things can be looked at to figure out the cause.

Thursday Night Football has been a game-changer when it comes to the whole equation, contributing to an Equinox in both 2018 and 2017. With three nights of football during the week, there’s a higher chance for the NFL to synchronize with the MLB’s postseason schedule, whether it’s an LCS game or a World Series matchup.

In 2017, the start of the NBA season was also pushed up, hoping to allow for more rest between games for the league’s teams, rather than forcing teams into tough stretches with four or five games in a span of five or six days. By doing so, it allowed for more of an overlap between all of the Big Four leagues, even lining up NBA games with early LCS games for the MLB.

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The start date was brought back for the 2019 NBA season, almost preventing the Equinox from even occurring this year had the Nationals swept the Astros.

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Cherish these days though, sports fans. The NBA moving the start date back could signal a changing of the guard, with the potential for less overlap in future years. From 2009 to 2015, there were only three days where all four leagues matched up, and two of them happened on back-to-back days in November during a long 2009 MLB postseason.

Before that, there was just one in 2001, and then the previously-mentioned long drought from 1985 to 2001.

If you’re a fan of these days, you’ll be rooting for long MLB postseasons in the future, a return to an earlier NBA start date, or both. For now, it’s time to enjoy the most magical time of the year: the 2019 Sports Equinox.

What will you be watching on October 27, 2019? Like this story? Let us know on Twitter by following @SOTSports or by heading to our Facebook page!

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