How can a sports fan manage the slowest day of the year? Look to these two events.

Sports are, in fact, still happening, and they demand your attention on Wednesday.

Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard wears the overall leader's yellow jersey during Tuesday's sixteenth stage of the Tour de France. DANIEL COLE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

For American sports fans, 99 percent of the year can be pretty straightforward. Virtually every day, you can open your phone or turn on your TV (or however you view sports in 2022) and be assured of finding games from one of the major sports leagues. There is no offseason for sports, even if the individual leagues all have them.

But for one conspicuous 24-hour period each year in July, sports runs into a dead zone. With baseball paused following the All-Star Game, Patriots season still weeks away, and with the Bruins and Celtics immersed in offseasons, the “traditional” American men’s sports leagues are idle (the Revolution, for the record, don’t play until this weekend).


Some might think this is good. After all, a 24-hour break from sports might even allow you to achieve some hitherto impossible tasks, like successfully “logging off” or maybe even “going outside.”

There are two problems with this. The first, in purely practical terms, is that it’s currently a heatwave (so just be careful with going outside for too long). The second problem is far more important: Sports are, in fact, still happening, and they demand your attention on Wednesday.

For the purposes of clarity, let’s focus on just two of the sporting events taking place on the “slowest sports day of the year.”

The first, ironically, is one of the fastest annual competitions in the world: The Tour de France. The basics, if you don’t already know, go like this: More than 200 riders representing 22 teams pedal their way over a 2,068-mile course broken into 21 stages.

Sepp Kuss of the U.S. cools off as he sets the pace during the sixteenth stage of the Tour de France Tuesday. DANIEL COLE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What that summary doesn’t capture is the race’s drama, its ambience, and the undeniably compelling level of suffering that riders endure on the road to Paris. The beauty of the Tour is always found in the struggle, and 2022 is no different.


The toughest miles — and the biggest crowds — inevitably come in the mountains, which is where the race currently finds itself. Now in its third week, Tour riders are bracing for the most challenging climbs of the Pyrenees (having already finished the Alps a week ago).

In Stage 17 on Wednesday, the race winds its way up four “categorized” climbs, including three Category-1 mountains (finishing at the Peyragudes ski resort). The stakes couldn’t be clearer. Two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia currently sits in second place, trailing Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard by a little over two minutes.

Pogačar, 23, is running out of opportunities to regain a lead he let slip away in an earlier mountain stage. Without question, he will be looking to attack. And while the odds are admittedly long, cameras have continued to find a smile on Pogačar’s face in recent days. Though it could just be his amiable nature, it does beg the question: Does he have a plan?

If the prospect of epic mountainside duels doesn’t entice you, there is luckily one other major sports competition taking place on Wednesday: The first knockout round game of the Women’s Euro 2022.


England vs. Spain, in virtually any soccer context, is a matchup that invites attention. In this specific case, England are not only hosts of the tournament, but have been its most dominant team so far. Through three group stage games, England went undefeated and conceded zero goals (including a stunning 8-0 win over Norway).

Spain, though missing several players due to injury (including superstar Alexia Putellas), remains a formidable opponent. In true Spanish fashion, Jorge Vilda’s side plays an aesthetically pleasing — if not always incisive — style of possession-oriented soccer.

Spain’s Patri Guijarro of Spain speaks to the media during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Spain press conference Tuesday in Brighton, England. MIKE HEWITT/GETTY

In front of a roaring home crowd, England will be the heavy favorites as the Lionesses seek to win a first major tournament in the team’s history. Spain, still smarting from a group stage defeat to Germany, will be out to spoil the party.

And if that doesn’t draw you in to watch sports on sports’s slowest day, you can — maybe — still go outside. Just make sure you hydrate.


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