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Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Salt Lake Bees fans scramble to catch a foul ball. Bees games are among the myriad sporting activities to enjoy during the summer sports "dead zone."

So, you've been sleepwalking since the Utah Jazz were eliminated from the NBA playoffs, and you're not sure if debating or defending BYU's recruiting tactics with Riley Nelson and Malosi Te'o will keep you occupied until the state's favorite sports fire up again next fall?

In other words, it's summertime, your favorite sports are in hibernation, and you're bored?

There's no need to act like a zombie until pro basketball and college football resume. No, really. To that matter, we're here to help fill your summer sports void.

So, back away from the sports-talk radio shows and their bantering about whether you'd pick Ginger or Mary Ann, put the magical fourth-and-18 and Fiesta Bowl highlight videos back on the shelf, and get out and try one or more of these sports and activities this summer:

THE OTHER FOOTBALL: If you haven't heard the purported fact that Utah has more kids who play soccer per capita than all other states, then you either plug your ears when somebody from the Checketts family speaks or you don't have a friend who is an RSL fan.

Either way, Utah is a soccer hotbed, and Real Salt Lake offers local sports fans plenty of chances to see America's version of Major League futbol. RSL still has 11 home dates left on

its 2008 schedule (which means there's still plenty of time to watch the Xangos blow a match on the pitch in penalty time).

If things go as planned, one or some of those games might be played at the Fill-In-The-Blank Soccer Stadium that's being built in America's 34th safest city.

• MOTORSPORTS: If you have the need for speed, Utah is now a pretty good place to be, what with the Rocky Mountain Raceways, the Miller Motorsports Park and State Street.

Last weekend had high-flying motorcycle enthusiasts chomping at the bit.

Other "major events" at the MMP include: the GT Live West Miller Park Racing Association Round 3 from June 28-29; the NASCAR Camping World Series from Aug. 1-2 (with cars, not tents); and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sunchaser 1000 from Sept. 19-21.

The RMR has a slew of weekly events featuring drag racers, funny cars, pro trucks and more. As for State Street, you're on your own.

• OFF TO THE RACES: If running, cycling or both, plus swimming, are your things, then there are tons of options for you to watch or, better yet, to participate in this summer. The big running events include the Deseret News 10K/marathon on July 24, the Top of Utah marathon in Logan (Sept. 20) and the 178-mile off-road Wasatch Back Relay (June 20-21). Many cities have 5Ks and fun runs throughout the summer as well.

Cyclists will have plenty of chances to spin out or shout out support. Some big road races include: the Tour de Park City (Aug. 2), the race/ride around Utah Lake known as ULCER (Aug. 9), the elite Tour of Utah (Aug. 13-17 ), and the uber-challenging Logan-to-Jackson Hole ride on Sept. 6 called LOTOJA (and, no, that's not Michael Jackson's sister).

The nation's biggest mountain bike stage race, the Great American Mountain Bike Classic, will also take place in Utah this summer at Brian Head (Aug. 21-24). The National Mountain Bike Series also has stops at Deer Valley (June 26-28) and at Brian Head (Aug. 29-31). The 24 Hours of Moab will take place Oct. 11-12, giving Moab mountain bike fans something to look forward to over the summer.

Triathletes also have events just about every weekend, including big-purse races like the Battle at Midway (June 14) and the XTerra Mountain Championships (Aug. 16). Other biggies: the Utah Half Ironman (Aug. 9), the USAT Regional Championship Xango Echo Triathlon (July 12), the Scofield Triathlon (July 19) and the Jordanelle Triathlon (Aug. 23).

NATIONAL PASTIME: That's right. Take yourself — and your family — out to the ballpark. Which one? Any. All. Any and all. The Wasatch Front has three minor-league teams — the Salt Lake Revolving Mascots of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and the Ogden Raptors and the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League. St. George also has its own club — the Roadrunners (go ahead, do your best "beep! beep!") of the Golden Baseball League.

Promotions are one of the best parts about the minor leagues. The Bees/ex-Stingers/ex-Buzz have the Famous Chicken coming to town on June 21, and they have eight more games with fireworks (postgame ones, at least), including the Fourth and 24th of July.

The Raptors and Owlz will have plenty of chances to stoke their rivalry's fire as the rookie league squads duke it out 16 times this summer, starting June 17 with a series at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem.

Or, you could just meander over to your local little league ballpark and get a chuckle watching toddlers smack the tee ball around or check out the talented teens whose dads believe will be big leaguers in a few years. (Ear plugs might be recommended to help tune out those out-of-control parents.)

JUNE, JULY, JAZZ: If you're completely having Utah Jazz withdrawals, the NBA franchise will help you get a couple of mid-summer fixes. The first comes on and leading up to June 26. That's when the Larry Miller brain trust could snatch up Trent Plaisted, Jaycee Carroll and Lee Cummard with their three NBA Draft picks.

The question is: Who will go 23rd, 44th and 53rd?

OK, that's probably not the only question the Jazz will have that day. Fans will be invited per tradition to attend a drafty-day party at EnergySolutions Arena to get the inside scoop before David Stern makes his announcement at Madison Square Garden. (Here's a guess he won't be telling the world those three Utah collegiate players will all be wearing Jazz colors next year.)

The next Jazz action in Utah will take place in mid-to-late July at the annual Rocky Mountain Revue. That's when NBA hopefuls converge on the Salt Lake Community College's Redwood Campus in hopes of catching the eye of attending coaches (NBA ones, not SLCC's). Details are forthcoming.

FORE SURE!: Turns out, local golfers will soon have bragging rights over the LPGA. Annika Sorenstam will return to Utah to play golf — something the top women's tour can't claim. The famous retiring female golfer will headline Utah's most prestigious golfing event next month — the Johnny Miller-hosted Sorenson Champions Challenge at the Thanksgiving Point Golf Club on June 16-17. Jack Nicklaus, Hale and Steve Irwin, and Billy and Bobby Casper will be among some of the recognizable names competing in the 12-team competition.

Amateur hackers will have all sorts of opportunities to compete across the state this summer. Tournaments are held about every weekend at various clubs and courses. Two of the bigger ones will take place later in the summer — the Utah Open Championship at Oakridge Country Club (Aug. 22-24) and the UGA Tournament of Champions at Wolf Creek Golf Course (Sept. 12-13).

RODEOS: Giddy up, pardner. OK, we'll spare you anymore bad Cowboyese, but anyone who has a hankering for guys and gals competing in boots and hats are in luck in the Beehive State during the summer. Between now and September, you can find a rodeo about every weekend around Utah — from Herriman to Heber City, from Tooele to Tremonton, even from the Canyonlands to Coalville.

Some of the most popular pasture parties include: the Oakley Rodeo (July 2-5), Ute Stampede Rodeo in Nephi (July 10-12) ; and the Days of '47 Rodeo at EnergySolutions Arena, which includes the popular Professional Bull Riders' event and $300,000 in prize loot (July 16-24).

Try 'em. They're a hoot.

UTAH SUMMER GAMES: Consider these the Olympics for ordinary — and, yes, some extraordinary — athletes from around the area. The 23rd edition of Utah's summer sports extravaganza goes from June 4-22, mostly in and around Cedar City. There is no short supply of sports to pick from, either. There are about 50 events — from bass fishing, pickleball, sculling to horseshoes — and oodles of age categories and skill levels to accommodate all wannabes and has-beens.

• FOOTBALL: Believe it or not, you really don't have that much time to burn before the 2008 football season kicks off. If you can't wait for the end of summer, the Utah Blaze can tide you over a bit. They have one home game left on their schedule against the Los Angeles Avengers on June 9. That game is also on ESPN2.

As for the two major Division I pigskin programs, the Cougars and Utes both return to the gridiron for games on Aug. 30. Both are playing traditional powers, too. Utah gets to take a trip to the Big House in Michigan that day, while BYU hosts a Football Championship Subdivision mammoth in Northern Iowa. (Please, Cougar fans, try to contain your hysteria for that match-up.)

There are some dates to keep in mind leading up to the season kickoffs. BYU fall camp begins on Aug. 1, while the Utes report back on Aug. 3. U. practice begins Aug. 4. This means by Aug. 5 the media should be reporting about how far ahead the teams' defenses are of their offense, how much potential they have and how excited players are to hit somebody other than their teammates. Just a hunch.

A date some Utah football players might want to forget: Aug. 9, the beginning of two-a-days.

FISHING: You can teach a man to fish and he won't even have to pay for it this Saturday. That's "Free Fishing Day" across the state. Extra fish will even be stocked as officials hope to, um, hook anglers onto the sport.

And if that's not enough for you to do, there's always boating, jet- and waterskiing, hiking, camping, kayaking, backpacking or sight-seeing at Utah's state parks or five national parks, not to leave out the great sports of s'moreing and barbecuing.

Good luck trying to get it all in by next fall. Hopefully by then, who's-best debates will include guys like Brian Johnson and Max Hall instead of Gilligan's favorite redhead and brunette.


E-MAIL: jody@desnews.com