To some, the additional week of previewing, speculating andpredicting that precedes the Super Bowl is just too much analysis to handle.All the football talk might seem painstakingly repetitive right now, however,but in another couple of weeks, don?t think it’s not going to be missed.Take this weekend as an opportunity to look ahead. Not tothe upcoming Super Bowl, mind you, but at what lies just beyond the finalmeaningful football game of the season. We?re about to enter the almost three-week-longdead period that takes place between February 3 (this year?s Super Bowl Sunday)and the start of spring training games, and it?s not going to be pretty.This period of time takes place each year, and this timearound it appears like it’s going to be just as boring as ever.As far as football goes, next Sunday?s matchup between thePatriots and the Giants may not be the last event that?ll occur before thedraft in April, but it certainly will be the last one worth paying any realattention to.With the NFL Network airing countless hours of weigh-ins and40-yard dashes at the combine, football fans at home, as well as the scoutspresent in Indianapolis with nothing better to do, will drool over the nextreceiver to show up and run a 4.3.Although speculating about who might be a steal might be funnow, by the time Tennessee Tech?s cornerback with the blazing speed getsdrafted in the sixth round, he?ll have long been an afterthought even in themost diehard fan?s mind, and the hours watching the combine will reap littlebenefit.The Pro Bowl will also provide an opportunity to watchfootball, but due to injuries, real or fake, and general laziness, the gamenever proves to be anything exciting.So, as long as there?s nothing going on in football, itlooks like an all-right time to start paying attention to other sports, right?Wrong.The NHL All-Star game is this weekend, and because theleague?s biggest star, Sidney Crosby, will not be playing in it, the usuallyoverlooked game should go even more unnoticed this season. In fact, with Crosbypossibly missing the next eight weeks with an ankle injury (which would put hisreturn at a little before the start of the playoffs), there isn?t really anyprofessional hockey worth watching for the casual fan until the Stanley Cupplayoffs begin. Of course, that clashes with the start of the baseball season,so the prospect of watching hockey this season is looking dim for most.With hockey and football providing little to watch duringthis stretch, it’s basketball that the brunt of the sports-watching load seemsto fall on during the upcoming lull.Unfortunately, the ?highlight? of NBA play during Februaryis the All-Star Weekend. In recent years, the once-fiercely played contest hasturned into little more than an afterthought to what has became a partyweekend. Now that it?s more of a place to see and be seen, all the activitieson the court seem secondary to the ones going on off it. And with the gamebeing played in New Orleans this year, the 2008 version should be no different.The weekend?s other main event, the slam dunk contest, no longer attracts thenames it once did, and the celebrity game that precedes the professional oneoffers little more than an excuse to laugh at the 3-point shooting abilities ofFrankie Muniz.With the NBA playoffs lasting as long as they do, Februarymight even be a good time to take a month off from watching the NBA ? lest fansbe bored of it by the time the season gears up for its playoff season thatextends to mid-June.College basketball tries its best to bail out sports fans,but even NCAA games come up short in February. Conference play is heating upand the NCAA Tournament picture starts to become clearer. But March is known asthe sport?s signature month for a reason. Games between league rivals duringthe regular season, like the ones that occur in February, are no match for theones that they play in March. And with tournament play so close, it’s tough notto pine for it to come more quickly.Actually, the only truly exciting thing going on during thistimeframe is the start of the NASCAR season. The Sprint Cup Series opens Feb. 9,but the sport, despite its massive popularity, doesn?t appeal to a diverseenough group of fans to lift their collective spirits very much.Perhaps the only good thing about the period between theSuper Bowl and baseball is that every year the same thing happens, so hopefullyby now fans have found a way to cope with it.Maybe it’s devoting hours to posting on web forums aboutpitchers and catchers reporting. Maybe it?s watching NASCAR for the first time.Or maybe it’s just diving into the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, whichconveniently comes out the week of Valentine?s Day. Whatever it is, I suggestyou enjoy the week of anticipation leading up to the Super Bowl now, becauseonce the final whistle blows, you?re in for a pretty tough time.?Mike Ackerstein is a sophomore majoring in politicalscience. If you know a good way to kill a few weeks that doesn?t involvedevoting more time to studying, he can be reached email@example.com.