This is an updated version of a post originally published on Beyond Bylines.
2021 was a year full of ups and downs as sports leagues navigated the ongoing pandemic and grappled with decisions about whether or not to allow fans at the events. The new year is shaping up to look a little more like normal in terms of schedules, but COVID-19 is likely to continue impacting athletes' playing statuses and fan attendance.
To help you plan your coverage for 2022, we've put together a sports calendar with some of the major sporting events fans are looking forward to (and some of the developing stories to keep tabs on).
If you're a PR pro, save the dates and use these sporting events to fuel your content calendar and media outreach strategy.
Even if you’re not in the professional sports marketing industry, that doesn’t mean these events don’t have relevance to you. PR pros need to stay on top of relevant news stories so they can either plan around them (so as not to get lost in the shuffle) or take advantage of them (do you have a product or story pitch you can relate to a timely event?)
🏅 Feb. 4-20: Winter Olympics
The rapid spread of the omicron variant is fueling uncertainty ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, but as of the time of writing, Chinese organizers are still planning to move forward with the Games being played in a "closed-loop" bubble. Athletes from around the world will head to Beijing to compete in 109 events among 7 sports, including curling, snowboarding, figure skating, ice hockey and more. U.S. athletes will be in attendance, even though U.S. officials and some sports announcers will not. As for fans, only a select group of spectators will be invited to attend, according to a recent statement from the organizing committee.
🏈 Feb. 13: Super Bowl LVI
After an extended season full of twists and turns like postponed games and players being dropped, it's nearly time for the next Super Bowl. A thrilling weekend of divisional-round games means this will be the first time in 12 seasons that neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers will play in the conference title games.
This year's big game will be played at the impressive SoFi Stadium in Englewood, California, with a can't miss halftime show lineup featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
🏎️ Feb. 20: Daytona 500
The 64th annual Daytona 500, the "Great American Race," will welcome fans to the iconic Daytona International Speedway in Florida for the NASCAR Cup Series season-opener. The 2021 race winner Michael McDowell will be back for the new season and is expected to be a threat for wins and top fives, despite a tough end to last year's regular season.
🏀 March 13 – April 4: March Madness
After last year's tournament was played in one location to limit COVID-19 exposures, this year's NCAA tournament will be getting somewhat back to normal. The First Four games will be played in Dayton, Ohio, and the schedule will feature games across the country before the Final Four games at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Sunday, March 13, is Selection Sunday, games will begin on March 15 and the final game will take place on April 4. NCAA correspondent Andy Katz predicts the Baylor Bears as the top overall seed.
⛳ April 4-10: Masters
Players are already receiving invitations to play in the 86th edition of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Will Tiger Woods be playing? Golf Channel's Doug Ferguson says it "depends on his ability to navigate the toughest walk on tour." And don't be surprised if you notice some film crews around the course as they document the PGA Tour for a new Netlfix series.
Here are the dates for the other three PGA Majors in 2022:
- May 16-22: PGA Championship
- June 13-19: U.S. Open
- July 11-17: British Open Championship
🏇 May 7: Kentucky Derby
After a dramatic race result in 2021 — winner Medina Spirit failed a drug test following the race and died from an apparent heart attack in December — fans will return to Churchill Downs for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit's trainer, Bob Baffert, is banned from Churchill Downs until 2023, so hopes for his other horses depend on either a change of heart at Churchill or a transfer to a different trainer. Epicenter, Corniche, Mo Donegal, Messier, and Dash Attack are among the contenders this year.
🏎️ May 29: Indianapolis 500
The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," will feature 33 drivers racing for the win. This year will also see seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson compete in this first Indy 500 after he announced he'll be participating in the full IndyCar schedule.
🏌️♀️ June 2-5: U.S. Women’s Open
The 2022 LPGA Tour season will feature $85.7 million in prize money, the largest total ever presented. The U.S. Women's Open will take place in Southern Pines, N.C. Here are the dates for the LPGA tour schedule in 2022, including the other majors:
- March 31-April 3: The Chevron Championship
- June 23-26: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
- July 21-24: Evian Championship
- Aug. 4-7: AIG Women’s Open (This will be the first Women's Open to be played at Muirfield, which only started admitting women members in 2019.)
🚴 July 1-24: Tour de France
The 109th Tour de France will kick off in Copenhagen, Denmark, the world capital of cycling. Cyclists will then travel through Belgium and Switzerland before ending up in France. The route for this year's race will feature six mountain stages - including the Alps and Pyrenees - with five summit finishes.
🎾 June 27 – July 10: Wimbledon
2022's grass-court major will be the first one in the tournament's history not to officially feature a Middle Sunday. This also means the schedule will not include a Manic Monday as the fourth round will be played over two days instead of one. The 2021 Men's Singles winner Novak Djokovic has been making headlines recently for his decision to not receive COVID-19 vaccinations and Australia's decision to refuse his entry before the Australian Open (a decision which changed several times before eventually being upheld). For Wimbledon, a report says Djokovic is unlikely to be exempt from playing but could be required to quarantine before the tournament. Last year's Women's Singles winner, Ashleigh Barty, started the 2022 season with a win over Coco Gauff. We'll see if that trend continues through to Wimbledon.
🏀 June 2-19: NBA Playoffs & Finals
The NBA was back to its regular 82-game, bubble-free season for 2021-22. At the time of writing, The Milwaukee Bucks are a favorite to win the NBA Championship in June, according to FiveThirtyEight. The Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets round out the top four, respectively.
Make sure you're also keeping track of other key NBA dates in 2022, including:
- Feb. 10: Trade deadline
- April 16: Playoffs begin
- June 23: NBA Draft
🏒 Mid-Late June: Stanley Cup
After some unique restructuring last year due to the pandemic, the NHL will return to its normal four-division, two-conference format this season. This year's schedule will include a break from Feb. 3-22 to allow players to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. 2022 will also be the Seattle Kraken's inaugural season (I admittedly don't follow hockey but I love this team name so much that I may have to start). April 29 will mark the end of the regular season and playoffs will begin on May 2. NHL.com writers named their preseason favorites for this year's championship, which include the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and New York Islanders.
🎾 Aug. 29 – Sept. 11: U.S. Open
Tennis greats will head to New York City's USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 2022 U.S. Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year. With some of the game's big-name players consistently recovering from injuries or being knocked out early in tournaments, NYT's Kurt Streeter asks if tennis is entering a new golden age. He explains, "Maybe there’s a silver lining in the game’s newfound uncertainty. Free of the shadow cast by the biggest stars, it’s easier to gain enthusiasm for a wider cast."
🏎️ Oct. 21-23: U.S. Grand Prix (Formula 1)
If you're like me and got hooked on Netflix's Drive to Survive docuseries during the pandemic, you're much more familiar with the world of Formula 1 than in previous years. In addition to the traditional U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, this year's Formula 1 schedule will also feature the inaugural Miami Grand Prix from May 6-8.
⚾ October (TBD): World Series
The 2022 MLB season is off to a rocky start since commissioner Rob Manfred announced a player lockout in December 2021. The season's schedule is contingent on the outcome of the lockout and there's not been much hope that the first substantive negotiations on Jan. 13, 2022, and more recent counter-offer will have positive outcomes. But the drama hasn't stopped sports outlets from making their own World Series predictions.
⚽ Nov. 21-Dec. 17: FIFA World Cup
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar may be the first major sporting event open to global fans since the start of the pandemic. Applications for tickets opened last week and Qatar residents will receive special pricing packages. But the celebration of football will not be without controversy. Human rights issues involving migrant workers and anti-homosexuality laws were raised in a report from Amnesty International last year. In response to the report and athlete concerns, the organizing committee chair told CNN, "Everybody is welcome here and everybody will feel safe here. Qatar is a tolerant country. It's a welcoming country. It's a hospitable country."
🏈 December-January: NCAA Football Bowl Games
College football fans are still talking about Georgia's win over defending champion Alabama in the recent championship game, but it's already time to start looking ahead to next season. In some very early preseason predictions, the Georgia and Alabama are still ones to watch, along with Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Bowl games for the 2022-23 season will begin on Dec. 30, 2022, with the Orange Bowl. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be played on Jan. 9, 2023, in Los Angeles.
🎮 Multiple Dates: Esports Tournaments
Esports exploded in popularity when the pandemic hit and the trend has continued. Insider Intelligence estimates 29.6 million monthly esports viewers and revenue nearing $2 billion in 2022. Check out the eSportsGuide event calendar for a look at upcoming tournaments and their prize amounts.
Want more inspiration for timely story ideas? Find more year-round events and pitching tips by downloading Cision's 2022 Content Calendar.
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