The ATP tennis season starts on January 3rd and does not end until December 6th this year. Presumably the 2010 season will start the first week of January again, giving the players all of one month off between seasons. While this is may be longest professional sports season in terms of total number of weeks from start to finish, at least the players get to choose which tournaments they enter (to some extent). The professional hockey season starts its preseason in September and does not end its playoffs until early June. Hockey in June? Are you kidding me? I have failed to find a professional sport which does not have a season that is far too long, but why?
The simple answer is that it allows the owners to make more from advertising revenue, but I'm not entirely satisfied with that answer. An old instructor I had once told me that when Gorbachev banned vodka he predicted it would be the end of the Soviet Union. His reasoning was that once the proletariat were no longer in a state of constant drunkenness they would start to take an interest in politics. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but the idea of a distracted voting class may explain why democracy rarely feels as though it is.
My theory is that without an excessively long professional sports season, the average voter might start wondering why he's 40 years old, living in the middle of nowhere and working himself into the ground with nothing to show for it. Said voter may start questioning his current situation and perhaps stop mindlessly filling out ballots for the incumbent candidate or, even worse, start voting. Governments in a "democracy" tend to be fairly ineffectual at creating any meaningful change for the better, and the less people think about this fact the better off the government is. Hence, you can see that the government has a large incentive to keep the voters from thinking about their lives.
All joking aside, I don't understand the value of having thousands of people sit on their asses eating popcorn and drinking beer as they watch others run around for them, while North Americans are fatter than they've ever been. Instead of using tax payer's money to build new professional sports arenas (as they are used in some cities), why not use that same money to build more outdoor, public sporting facilities that everyone can enjoy? I guess that's why I'm not a politician.
("Whoo-ee, I love my government!")