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Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024
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My sporting bucket list

[caption id="attachment_290" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="The Hawaiian Ironman, the top of my bucket list (photo courtesy of"]


There are events and games for which we all wish we had a ticket. If you’re a sports fan of any kind, you most likely have a “sporting bucket list” of major events or matchups you want to attend during your lifetime. Sure, ESPN will always give you a recap on the next morning of SportsCenter, but unless you’re there in the stands, on the sidelines or across the tape, you just don’t know what it’s really about.

My bucket list is probably a bit different than that of the average American sports fan. I tend to gravitate to endurance sports, especially those held in harsh conditions around the globe, but I can also appreciate the skill needed to sink the winning putt at the Masters or the timing necessary to pull off a game-winning three pointer. It’s a hodgepodge of events that I want to see before I die or before my bank account runs dry.

1. The Hawaiian Ironman

It’s the world’s toughest Ironman triathlon, a race for the best endurance athletes in the world. After a grueling 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run, the contestants finish a race that many describe as “life changing.” Last year’s winner Chris McCormack (a two-time winner) won with a time of 8:10.37, leading the 1,849 contestants who entered. Just to watch the elation of the finishers would well be worth the trip to Kona.

2. The Super Bowl

The world’s largest sporting event in terms of television audience, media presence and hoopla is a must on my bucket list. Forget the fact that the cheapest ticket I could find three days before the big game went for $2,185 and was so high in Cowboy Stadium that you would not only get a nose bleed, but suffer from altitude sickness. I just want to go to see what the frenzy is about. Even if it features two teams that I could care less about, the importance of the game makes it a can’t miss.

3. The Masters

There’s just something so attractive about a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Augusta National. The perfect greens, the chirping birds, the scenic view and the best golfers in the world create an even more incredible combination than Arnold Palmer’s sweet tea and lemonade. The story lines generated during the opening rounds and the always nail-biting finishes make this a big ticket in the spring.

4. The Tour de France

Perhaps it’s been tainted by doping allegations and the departure of Lance Armstrong, but the tour is still one of the most dramatic events to witness over the course of the month. It could be the length that makes it so attractive, the act of finishing a 3,000+ mile race with top competition that draws me to the sport of cycling.  Nonetheless, sipping a glass of vino on top of the Pyrenees while watching the best in the world give it their all would be quite the sight to see.

5. UNC vs. Duke (College basketball)

Mercer basketball turned me into a hoops fan for reasons undiscovered before my college years. The story lines during games, the crazy fans, the spectacles on the court and the occasional basket-brawl keep me watching. I have no allegiances to either North Carolina or Duke, but just to be surrounded by passionate fans of their caliber would make a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium worthwhile.

6. The Daytona 500

In the words of Darryl Waltrip, “Boogity, boogity, boogity!” The smell of cheap beer, sunscreen and racing fuel is enough to draw me. While 43 cars enter, there are only a few fan favorites. Despite the race’s length, what could be more fun than cheering for your favorite driver next to a dude with a ‘3’ shaved into the side of his head, wearing jorts?

7. MLB Spring Training (Grapefruit League)

It’s the only time of hope for clubs like the Pittsburgh Pirates. Everyone’s happy and giddy for the season to begin. Temperatures are warm during the day and cool at night in Florida’s Grapefruit league and players are willing to talk and sign autographs for hours with fans. The games don’t count—the glorified warm-up practices (more or less) with official jerseys and caps—but for baseball purists, Spring Training is a pot of gold.

8. Wimbledon

The English love their tennis and Wimbledon is considered by many the greatest tournament in the world. So many winners have made a lasting impact on the sport at Wimbledon, including Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal, the Williams sisters—the list goes on. Television doesn’t really do it justice. It’s just one of those things where you have to be there to experience it.

9. Heavyweight title bout

I never quite figured out the appeal of MMA (although I’d still like to attend), but boxing goes back longer than almost every other sport. It’s mano a mano, except with boxing gloves and slick-looking shorts. Insert a television broadcast by HBO and a ring announcer with a voice lower than a humpback whale and you have an experience. Where was I when Tyson-Holyfield II was going on in 1997?

10. Yankees vs. Red Sox

It’s THE rivalry in American sports, I’m just not sure why. Perhaps this country boy doesn’t understand the hate involved in the 102-year-old rivalry, but I’d sure like to sit behind a few Yankee and Sox fans during the next classic at Fenway or in the brand new Yankee stadium and try to. Nevertheless, it makes my top ten list.

Other events that were close, but didn’t crack my top ten:

FIFA World Cup, the NBA Finals, the Kentucky Derby, ICC Cricket World Cup, MMA fight, Rugby World Cup


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