4. The Ryder Cup
Date: Sept. 26-28
On paper, this is supposed to be a biennial meeting of the best U.S. and European golfers the world has to offer engaging in a fine display of skill and sportsmanship. It's also the event that made Sam Snead snarl at Jack Nicklaus for being too nice to the Euros in 1969, had Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros trading barbs in 1989 like Downton Abbey inhabitants and featured a whole lot of growling and crying during the "War At The Shore" in South Carolina in 1991.
We're assured things have calmed down since, but the U.S. team celebrating Justin Leonard's victory putt in 1999 like they were Diddy at the beginning of the Mo' Money, Mo Problems video still doesn't sit well with the Europeans. The fact that the European side still holds the Ryder Cup after the U.S. coughed up a four-point lead on the last day of the 2012 in Medinah, Ill., salves the wound a bit.
This year, the Ryder Cup heads back to Gleneagles in Scotland -- where the event began as an informal British/U.S. contest in 1921 -- for its 40th installment. Olympic host network NBC has its claws in the Ryder Cup, too, with its flagship network, NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel in on the coverage. That means a whole lot more of NBC's "TV Anywhere" approach to viewing and streaming, but it doesn't mean NBC has exclusive rights.
For the past couple of Ryder Cup events, NBC has split duties with ESPN, which typically covers the opening rounds. That's not a bad deal for golf fans, who get access to the event through ESPN and its Watch ESPN app, but it's not great for NBC, which just signed a 15-year contract extension with the Ryder Cup. If Francesco Molinari decides to curse out Tiger Woods on hallowed ground during this year's event, NBC's hoping he can wait until the final rounds.