ISH Writer, Adam Leightman, provides the 20 events that you must see or do if you call yourself a sports fan.
*This list is in no particular order.
The Super Bowl, The Olympics, Chicago Blackhawks Vs. Detroit Red Wings, Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers, Visit Wrigley Field, Visit Madison Square Garden.
Watch your team win a Championship in person:
Lets start things off with a bang. Watching your team win a championship live must be a great feeling. Being a Houston Sports fan born in 1997, I would not know the feeling. Although the University of Texas won the National Championship in 2005, I was not present at the game, so that does not count. Being at the stadium watching your team lift the trophy should most certainly be on everyone’s list.
Iron Bowl: Auburn Vs. Alabama (Football):
The Iron Bowl is one of two unbelievable college football rivalries (see below). Alabama has dominated the rivalry since the beginning of its existence in the early 1900’s, but Auburn is much more competitive now. Both teams have won National Championships in the last 10 years, and every year either one or both teams have a lot on the line when they meet Thanksgiving Weekend. The atmosphere is electric every year, and beating your rival is a great feeling.
Michigan Vs. Ohio State (Football):
The Big 10 version of the Iron Bowl is Michigan Vs. Ohio State. Two rivals that have been battling it out for many years. Ohio State has controlled the rivalry for the past 10 years, but with Michigan signing Jim Harbaugh, expect the rivalry to get more competitive. Even with Michigan’s recent struggles, they rarely get blown out by Ohio State and made them work extremely hard for the victories. Both teams have a lot of history and huge stadiums, so I would recommend going as soon as you can, whoever is hosting the game that year is irrelevant.
Old Firm: Celtic Vs. Rangers (Scottish Soccer):
Now this Glasgow Derby may be unfamiliar to a lot of state-side sports fans, but do not scroll past this game. The Old Firm was one of the most violent, anticipated days of the year for Scottish Soccer fans. The two teams would dominate the league, and the winner of the Old Firm would most likely win the League that year. When the clubs were created in the 1800’s, Celtic fans were Catholic and Rangers Fans were Protestants. THis created a unique rivalry that incorporated religion into a sporting event. The hatred is still there between the clubs, but the violence is gone. Unfortunately, Rangers ran into financial troubles, and were relegated two divisions. Hopefully next year, Rangers will be back in the first division and the Old Firm will resume where it left off. This is a very intense and complex rivalry that I cannot explain in its entirety. Here is a video (NSFW Language) that explains it much better than I could.
Storm the court/field
In college, after any major upset, the home fans will storm the court. A tradition that will never be taken away, even if the NCAA tries. This is a must for any sports fan. Celebrating with team on the field will be a memory you will have for a lifetime. If you go to a powerhouse school, it could be difficult, but hopefully you will get an opportunity to do so.
This should be on your list, whether you are a Tennis fan or not. The tradition of the tournament is unbelievable and the grass courts tend to bring out the best in the players. If you are lucky, you will catch a big match at centre court, but even if you watch a match at a smaller venue on site, it will still be a great experience.
Red Sox Vs. Yankees (Fenway)
Baseball is America’s pastime and one rivalry that showcases the history of the sport is Boston Vs. New York. The Sox and the Yanks have been battling it out since 1901. They have played each other over 2,000 times. They have won 35 World Series combined and every time they play expect an intense series. I would recommend going to Fenway Park because there is no other ballpark like Fenway and the stadium gives a much better atmosphere than new Yankee Stadium.
Meet a Favorite Athlete on Accident
Now I know this is very hard to accomplish because you cannot pay or plan to attend an event like this. However, if it does happen, it is a memory you will have a for a long time. In 2006, I was eating lunch with friends at neighborhood sandwich shop, when Craig Biggio walked in. We talked to him for a minute, got a picture, autograph and then left him alone. Most guys, like Craig, are extremely nice and will be happy to talk to you for a minute. ISH founder Daniel Zimmermann has bumped into Michael Jordan on the streets of Charlotte. Anything can happen!
Going to the Masters could be the hardest thing on this list. Getting a ticket to the Masters will be extremely pricy, unless you have a connection to a sponsor. Very few public tickets are sold, but if you get invited to go, do not turn down the opportunity. Being at Augusta National for the weekend, watching players on Sunday, and being at the center of golf is great experience everyone should have.
Lakers Vs. Celtics
This is a historic basketball rivalry. Although they are located on separate sides of the country, the hatred is palpable between the two teams. They have met 12 times in the NBA Finals, the last being in 2010. Unfortunately, both teams fell out of relevance in the last couple of years, but both teams have the cap space and draft picks to become strong teams again. Wait 2-3 years and this rivalry will be worth putting on your bucket list.
Stanley Cup Playoff Game (Any Hockey Town)
As a sports fan, I know just how exciting the Stanley Cup Playoffs are. The games are fast paced and the crowds are electric. It is on my bucket list to go to a playoff game and it should be on yours as well. I would recommend going to game in more of a Hockey Town, such as Detroit, New York, Chicago, Montreal, Boston, etc. I am not denying that Anaheim and Nashville get good crowds, but the experience will be better in the North. Here is a video from Winnipeg.
The Rose Bowl is nicknamed the “Grand Daddy of Them All” and for good reason. The game is played on New Years Day every year and always has a great matchup. Every couple of years it will host the National Championship game as well making the experience that much better. You can go to the famous Rose Parade, enjoy the perfect So Cal weather and watch a great game.
Opening Day (MLB)
Going to Opening Day at a Major League Baseball stadium is a great experience. I have been to an opening day at every major sport, and nothing tops the MLB. Seeing the American Flag cover the entire outfield as both teams line up down the lines as their names are called is very cool moment. Both teams will throw their ace and most of the time it is a great game.
FC Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid
‘El Classico’ should be a must for any sports fan. Both teams are world class, and have a list of players that a fan with little soccer knowledge will recognize. The teams are always battling for the title and the games they play against each other will play a big part in who finishes in first. Both stadiums and supporters are great, so watching at either venue is perfect.
The Kentucky Derby is an event that is completely different than any other major sporting event in America. The race takes two minutes, but the festivities last all day. There are over 120,000 spectators each year, and you can bet at the track. Being at the Derby and having your horse win must be a great feeling, but even if your horse does not finish in first, it is still a great event to attend.
Play on a Major League/College Field
This is another tough one unless you like sneaking around and going through doors you should not be going through. Whether its throwing your friend a touchdown on a college field at night, or getting to participate in free throw contest at an NBA game, everyone should try to get their moment to cross this off their bucket list.
Green Bay Packers Vs. Chicago Bears (Lambeau Field)
Packers Vs. Bears is the oldest rivalry in the NFL. the teams have been playing since 1921 (Before the NFL existed) They have played 190 times and the Bears lead the all-time series by 2 games. It’s safe to say you will see a good game. Both venues will work for this rivalry, but if you have a choice you should go the Frozen Tundra and experience a game in Titletown.
Go to a Game as an Away Fan
Going to a game as an away fan is one of my favorite sports memories. 3 years ago I went to Jets Vs. Texans in New York for Monday Night Football. There were a few thousand Texans’ fans at the game and we were LOUD. We won the game and walking around the concourse after the game was a lot of fun. I would recommend getting a group of friends together and getting to a game on the road.
Duke Vs. North Carolina (Basketball)
Duke Vs. North Carolina is the best rivalry in college basketball. The colleges are separated by 9 miles and every time they play it is intense. They have dominated the ACC for a long time and have 10 National Championships between them. Whether you see the game in Cameron Indoor, or at the Dean Center, it will be a game you will not forget.
Attend the FIFA World Cup
Going to the World Cup should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list. the whole world stops and focuses on the host country and it would be amazing to be there. Every team that qualifies has thousands of fans go to the event. Not only will you see great soccer, you will experience many different cultures and meet people from all over the world. If you can’t go to 2018 Russia, I would recommend waiting until 2026, because Qatar does not seem like a great place to be.
If there is anything you think I missed, please comment below with what you have on your bucket list.
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