Let All The Games Begin

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A week after Super Bowl XLIV captivated American audiences like no other program with a U.S. TV record average viewership of 106.5 million for CBS, many football fanatics are no doubt left wondering what to do with themselves.

But this weekend’s sports lineup should help with their pigskin withdrawal. Tonight, the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics is set for BC Place, a domed stadium that’s home to the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions. Those on the East Coast will get to hear NBC’s Bob Costas and Matt Lauer talk live (sorry Pacific Time zoners you’re on delay) over what figures to be some outstanding images and some interesting back stories, as the Games take center stage through Feb. 28.

They’ll also have to report and commiserate about the tragic death of 21-year-old, Republic of Georgia luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, who crashed violently during his training run in Vancouver on Friday. The course has been deemed treacherous by many competitors.

Let’s hope the racing will be safer on the tracks in Daytona this weekend, where Danica Patrick, much more than just a pretty face and godaddy.com spokeswoman, will be taking her first turns in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series Drive 4 COPD 300 race this Saturday at 1:15 p.m. on ESPN. Patrick’s first ARCA start last weekend goosed ratings for Speed on Feb. 6.

Indeed, Patrick’s presence in many respects is trumping some of the usual heat behind America Race’s on Fox at noon on Sunday. I never quite got why NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup circuit zooms out of the gate with its Super Bowl, but one can only hope fans and Fox don’t get shortchanged like they did last year when rain concluded the race with Matt Kenseth in the winner’s circle after completing 152 of the Daytona 500’s 200 laps.

For the NBA, it’s All-Star weekend with all of the festivities centered around the Xanadu known as Cowboys Stadium. With a potential crowd estimated at 100,000, it’s too bad Nielsen doesn’t measure out-of-home viewing on the giant screen at Jerry Jones’s pleasure palace in Big D that many will be watching on Sunday night. That would certainly aid TNT’s count, which could take a hit in the absence of Kobe (ankle) and, to a lesser extent, AI (personal problems with his daughter).

As for those who can’t make do with the rings, tracks and court action until the gridiron returns in earnest in August, just remember: pitchers and catchers are just days away.