If you’re reading this, chances are you have thought about making some sort of bucket list in your life. In grade school we were told we could be anything we wanted to be and do whatever we put our minds to. Well, as most kids were dreaming of creating pools full of pudding and thinking of a pen pal in a faraway land, I was thinking more along the lines of sports. Yes, seeing the Detroit Lions in a Super Bowl is at the top of my list still, but I have come to add a few more things as I’ve gotten older.
See, the problem with sports today is that some of the greatest experiences a fan can have probably cost quite a bit of money. It’s no secret that at this year’s Super Bowl the average ticket price was over $2,000; but what if money wasn’t an issue? There have been probably millions of people who’ve made up bucket lists of things to do before they die, but how many of those items are sports related? Buying a house and getting married sound great, but how about attending a NASCAR race with 100,000 other screaming fans or playing a round of golf at St. Andrews?
If money weren’t an issue, I could make an endless list of things you should do in the sports world before you die. You only live once and you can’t take money with you when you go, so why not enjoy life while you can? Here are the top 10 sporting events you should experience at least once in your life.
10. Visiting the Little League World Series
Anybody that has played baseball as a kid has imagined playing in front of thousands of people in the World Series. Every summer, Williamsport is inundated with hundreds of 11-13 year olds, looking to represent their state in the Little League World Series. There is nowhere else in the world where you can see a 6’2 12-year-old throw a ball 70 MPH or watch a 13-year-old hit a 300-foot home run. The athletic prowess of these kids is amazing, and the pureness of the game is refreshing and inspiring. Throw in the 40,000 seating capacity, and this is sure to be one of the biggest moments of a player’s life and one that should be experienced by any baseball fan.
9. Sitting On Top of the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park
Aside from Wrigley Field in Chicago, no other baseball stadium has as much history as Boston’s Fenway Park does. With its iconic Green Monster left field wall, Fenway has been home to the Boston Red Sox since 1912 and has helped to keep thousands of would be home runs in the park. Standing tall at 37 feet, the Green Monster is unlike any other feature and no other ball park has a wall like it. The limited seating on top of the wall is also a driving force in putting it on many bucket lists. For the 2014 season, the Red Sox have introduced flexible pricing for the Monster; meaning that the ticket prices will vary depending on the weather, opponent, time and date of the game. With prices starting at less than $100 for standing room, it’s actually not that bad of a price for a once in a lifetime experience.
8. Running With the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain
Nothing will get your heart pumping like being chased down by a 1,200 pound bull with horns on its head. Period. The running of the bulls dates all the way back to the 14th century when men would excite the bulls ready for sale at local markets by running in front of them or chasing them in order to speed up the process. Since then, it has expanded into a competition and it is reported that there are 200-300 injuries per year as a result of this madness. Since 1910, 15 people have died during the running of the bulls, with 13 of them as a result of being gored to death by the horns. If you are seriously looking for a once in a lifetime experience and like to have your adrenaline pumping, I don’t think there could be anything more fitting for you than running with the bulls.
7. Attending An Outdoor Hockey Game
For many of us, growing up and playing pond hockey was a big part of the North American sports culture. Sorry to those that live in warm places all year, but if you didn’t have a chance to play some shinny when you were younger, you missed out. Sure, some Olympic hockey matches have been held outside, such as the 1957 gold medal game, but the trend for outdoor competition didn’t take off until 2001. Since then, the frequency of outdoor hockey matches has grown and so have the number of fans. Each season, the NHL sets up the Winter Classic, with the 2014 contest between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs drawing a record 105,491 fans. The electricity of the arena, along with the unknown weather conditions, make a professional or college outdoor hockey event that much more exciting. In 2011, the Winter Classic enjoyed 4.56 million viewers, the most to ever watch a hockey game.
6. Seeing a European Futbol Match Live
The atmosphere of a European football match is intense. In fact, I don’t think there are fans anywhere else in the world that are so devoted to their teams than those of European soccer. Whether it’s a big name club or a mid-level team, the 40,000 fans chanting in unison, horns going off, and obscene gestures towards the referees would put just about any sports fan in heaven. The celebrations after a goal and the prospect of winning a game by a close score sends chills down my spine. Even if your team loses, there are plenty of pubs and fans that flood the streets after the game. The speed and athleticism of the players on TV simply don’t do justice to the flow of the game in person. This is a sporting event that truly needs to be experienced live to get the full effect.
5. Watching the Army vs. Navy Football Game in Philadelphia, PA
In a rivalry between two of America’s most valuable teams, the Army/Navy football game has been played 114 times since 1890. As the only game on TV, watching the West Point Military Academy and the US Naval Academy square off is the pinnacle of tradition, sport, and patriotism. With the historical importance of Philadelphia, as well as the city being a halfway point between the two campuses, the energy of the game is unmatched by any other game between two of America’s service academies. Watching on TV and seeing the cadets dressed in identical jackets and uniforms really puts things into perspective. Feeling the echoes of the crowd after a big hit and then seeing the teams come together at the end really puts a whole new meaning on playing for the team on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
4. Playing A Round af Golf at Pebble Beach
As one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, not many other places compare to the scenery of Pebble Beach. Hugging the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, it boasts some of the most dramatic views of any course in the world, along with a hefty price tag. With the greens fees coming in at about $500, it is definitely an experience that only a select few can brag about. The PGA Tour and Champions Tour both play annual events at Pebble Beach, while a membership for the season costs a steep $17,000 per year. With a rich golf history dating back to 1917, Pebble Beach has to be one of the most sought after places to play a round of golf at. If you get the chance, you will not be disappointed by Golf Digest’s number one public course in America.
3. Runing a Marathon
Ok, so this will be out of the question for a lot of people reading this, but think of the sense of accomplishment you would get by trying to run a marathon. You don’t even need to run the entire 26.2 miles to feel good about yourself, just getting out there and experiencing it would be enough to put a smile on your face. The allure of running until you physically cannot run anymore may put some people off of the idea, but those who run a few marathons a year say the feeling is unlike any other. With the bombing of the Boston Marathon last spring, the event has seen a huge increase in the number of people seeking entrance into the event. Along with the emotional aspect of running a marathon, think of the physical benefits you could achieve. You’d be in tip top physical condition just by training for one, so go out there and run until you can’t anymore!
2. Attending a Game Seven
Whether it’s an NHL, NBA, or MLB game, you need to get to a game seven for several reasons. The first is being the obvious; the atmosphere. The tension is thick and the stakes are at an all-time high for both teams as they face elimination. The second reason is for the fans. The fans are the ones that rally their team when they are down, with the intensity of an entire season coming down to one single game. Game sevens are where legends are born and dreams are crushed. The roller coaster of emotions of players, coaches, and fans, is something that needs to be experienced in person. You can see it on their faces on TV, but until you see it in person, you are missing out.
1. Seeing Your Team at the Super Bowl
As an NFL fan, nothing will compare to seeing your team play in the Super Bowl. For two weeks, there is non-stop coverage of every aspect of the game from around the world. But when it comes down to it, seeing your team suit up would be an incredible feeling. Probably one of the more expensive items on this list, the money should be worth the experience if you are a true fan. Thousands of people flood the stadium and streets during every Super Bowl so there is plenty to do. No matter where you are sitting, just knowing that there are millions of people from around the world watching the game is enough to give you goosebumps.
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