I watch the Super Bowl on television every year and think to myself ,”The pregame, halftime and postgame shows are getting longer than the game. So why would I want to attend in person? I’d rather watch from home.”
I watch the World Series every year and think to myself, “Gee, they are still playing baseball?”
I watch the NBA Finals and think, “Maybe I would go to a game seven. But I’m not pressed.”
These are three of the premier sporting events in the United States. Some others include the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s college basketball Final Four championship, the Bowl Championship Series college football game, the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia and the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York.
Though I wouldn’t mind going to see any of these events they are not tops on my bucket list of must see. No, the events that I would like to see include sports at all levels. From youth league to the pros. In America and around the world. My bucket list spans the globe to bring me the constant variety of sports.
So if I was told on Christmas Day that I only had a year to live or if I hit the lottery that day here is what I would spend the next year doing. Traveling to see these ten sporting events. Here they are in the order in which they occur:
1 The Rose Bowl:
Ever since I wa a kid and saw the UCLA Bruins defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 1976 Rose Bowl I’ve wanted to go to Pasadena, California to see this game. The Rose Bowl is not only my favorite bowl, but my favorite football game to watch. I tell my friends and family not to bother me on New Years Day at 4:30 p.m., because I’m going to be in front of my television watching the Rose Bowl. Sometimes they listen. Sometimes they don’t. My brother’s car broke down in 2005 and I missed Texas quarterback Vince Young singlehandedly defeat Michigan that year.
The Rose Bowl is the one stadium that I want to see before I die. I want to go there for a traditional Big Ten-Pacific Ten Conference matchup, but will settle for whomever is playing.
I really would like to know what it’s like to see the sun setting behind the San Gabriel Mountains while the lights come on during a Rose Bowl game.
2. A National Football League championship game:
I would rather go to an NFL championship game than the Super Bowl. I would rather go to an American Conference or National Conference championship game for two reasons.
One, the game is not played at a neutral site. Part of the drama of the championship games is that one team has home field advantage. And as the game goes on you can feel the tension in the stands especially if the home team is losing. This tension heightens the intensity on the field as both teams are aware of what is at stake. A trip to the Super Bowl. There is nothing like hearing the home teams fans celebrate victory as the clock runs out and seeing their team begin to celebrate. And there is nothing like hearing those same fans silenced while they listen to the visitors do the same if they win.
Two, the game is still the most important thing. Even though there is more of a halftime show for the title games, the football is still what matters most. This makes it better for me than the Super Bowl. To me, it’s all about the game. The championship games are almost always about the game.
3. A heavyweight championship boxing match:
Growing up, boxing ranked right up there with the other major sports. And usually in the winter months we would get a few good championship fights to tide us over until baseball started in the spring. Not anymore.
Pro boxing is all but dead. There is just little or no interest in it. Especially the heavyweight division which is it’s lifeblood.
But I’d still like to go to a heavyweight boxing championship match. Even if it was overseas. I’ve never been to a pro boxing match and would like to actually feel the atmosphere surrounding one. Ideally, I’d like for it to be in Las Vegas, but would settle for Atlantic City. The star gazing alone would be worth it.
4. The Kentucky Derby:
I’m not a horse racing fanatic. I grew up and live in Maryland a hotbed for horse racing and home of the Preakness Stakes. I’ve never been to a horse race. I’ve been to the dog tracks in Jacksonville, Florida but never a horse race.
But I have been told by everyone who has been that the Kentucky Derby is must see. And from watching it on television I am inclined to believe it. I would love to spend the day at Churchill Downs waiting in anticipation of the big race. I don’t drink so no mint julips or whatever it is. And growing up in farm country I know what it looks and sounds like to see a horse or two running in a pasture. It must be TEN TIMES more exciting to see and hear a group of them running around a track.
I get excited just watching on telelvision so I know that I would live.
5. The Stanley Cup Finals:
I’ve said many times that hockey is my favorite sport to attend in person. I don’t get to as many games as I’d like because Washington Capitals tickets are hard to come by. But if they ever make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals I’ll try.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are arguably the most intense post season in all of sports. Overtime games are common and series shifts in momentum constant. And unlike most sports the deeper into the playoffs that we get the closer the games and series become.
But the main reason why I would like to go to a Stanley Cup Final is just to see the Cup itself. I would want to be at a game seven so that I’d be guaranteed a look at it. Is there a more majestic trophy in all of sports? I would say no.
6. A Wimbledon Men’s or Women’s Tennis Final:
I love Wimbledon. I like tennis, but love Wimbledon. And I love the men and women’s Wimbledon Finals. I always try to make it a point to keep my Saturday and Sunday morning of the Wimbledon Finals free. I love waking up on Sunday morning, turning on the television and watching the men’s final to the end.
And I would love to go to England and watch it live. I am big on tradition in sports and what event has more than Wimbledon? I know that I’m not royalty and probably would have to be a ball boy or something to get in, but it would be worth it.
And when you get two tennis players on the top of their game as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were in 2008 there is nothing more riveting. I can only imagine what it must be like in person.
7. Futbol’s World Cup:
If I was going to go out I’d hope that it’s in a year when the World Cup soccer tournament was going to take place. I’m not a soccer man, but an event man. And what greater global sporting event is there than the World Cup? I would be there in a heartbeat.
But it would have to be in a country outside of the United States. Because the U.S. could really never do the World Cup justice. Soccer isn’t our game. It would have to be a country that calls the game football. To me it’s the only way that I could ever get the full World Cup experience.
8. The All-American Soap Box Derby:
This is the first of the youth sports I’d love to attend. The Soap Box Derby is a youth soap box car race held annually in Akron Ohio. In July so I would have to fly back from England and Wimbledon and rest up in order to see it.
The racers build cars out of soap boxes and race them down a slanted track. The winner of the event gets a college scholarship. How can you beat that?
I would like to attend this event just to see the imagination of the kids at work. How they build their cars. How they race them. What adjustments they make. I would like to think that the kids do all of the work, but know that in the world we live in parent involvement is probably pretty high.
But it would still be worth it to go.
9. The Little League World Series:
Just as with the Soap Box Derby, the Little League World Series is the second youth event I would attend.
Held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania it is the dream of every serious little leaguer. It was for me when I played little league though I never realistically thought we’d make it. Maybe that’s why we didn’t.
Though recently I think that the Little League World Series is getting too much publicity and television time it is still a great event. And Williamsport is still the perfect place for the event.
I would love to go there just for the atmosphere. And to see the teams, players and fans from different parts of the country and world.
Most of all, I’d like to go out of nostalgia. I would like to go just to remember what it was like when I played Little League baseball and share it with some of the kids who would be there. And to hear their stories along with those of thier parents.
That alone would make the whole trip worthwhile.
10. The Army-Navy football game:
I would end the year by going to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the annual Army-Navy football game. I’ve wanted to go to this game since I was a kid. My father worked on a Naval base and he used to bring home their season ticket package every year. Knowing that he wasn’t a football fan I knew we’d never get them. But it was neat seeing that last game of the season on the schedule. Army vs. Navy.
Growing up here in Maryland,having been to the Naval Academy in Annapolis many times and having friends who are Midshipmen and Army Cadets I know the importance of the game. My best friends brother went to Annapolis and one of my best friends growing up played for Army. They hate losing to each other. Period.
But I would like to go more for the pageantry than the game. I want to see the Cadets and Midshipmen march into the stadium in uniform. I want to hear the National Anthem played while both groups sing it out loud. I want to see the Army mule and the Navy goat. And I want to hear the two teams sing their songs together after the game.
I can’t think of anything in sports in this country outside of Special Olympics more moving than the Army-Navy game. I must admit that I would probably cry a couple of times during the ceremonies.
To me it would be the perfect ending to a sports year, because it would put everything into perspective. True competition. Brotherhood. Sacrifice. Love for your fellow man.
What sports should be.
After that I could go in peace. Even if I were granted another year I would probably never enjoy it as much as that one.
But isn’t that what a bucket list is supposed tio be about?