Culture of Hoops

The Ultimate Sports Bucket List

Image courtesy of Republic of Korea/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Republic of Korea/Flickr.

I don’t care if you’re 10 or 100 everyone needs to have a bucket list.  Now while most people will have a list that includes things that are noble and selfish let’s focus on some sporting events and activities that we can strive for, since this is a sporting website after all.  Some of these I have done, and some of them I would like to do, and some I just think would be the right thing to do.  I’d love to hear what you have to say on the matter and what’s on your list.  I’ve also tried to break down the cost for each.

Go to a Super Bowl – The one day largest sporting event in the world.  If you’re a fan of the NFL it is the ultimate goal.  Even as a casual fan this is an epic event.  I was lucky enough to go to Super Bowl 45 in Dallas Texas with my father.  I met numerous players, celebrities; saw too many things to comment on in the span of a single article.  Its memories will last you a lifetime.  I met people from Japan and South Africa, so if they can do it you can pull it off.  I’d set aside at least $5000 per person to see the game, and it does go up each year.  Flight and hotel costs are often a little inflated the week of the big game as cities know well in advance they are hosting.

Go to the World Cup – The largest sporting event in the world and it takes the entire geography of a country to host it.  I am not really a soccer fan and I managed to go to the one in South Africa, seeing two games.  You have to go to a game to get the full effect, but even outside the stadiums there is an amazing atmosphere that you have to experience.  Costs are going to vary, but whatever flights are to that location expect them to be nearly double, and hotels will be as much as 10 times the normal rate (mine was 5).  Having friends or family who live in the area is really the only way to go.  Tickets are assigned by random draw a year in advance of the games and are reasonable.  Picking more remote locations and requesting the draw by location (you can ask for team draws or location draws) is the best way to get tickets that aren’t scalped.

Go to the Olympics – my preference on this would be the winter games, but for those of you who can’t handle the cold the summer games would be great too.  It’s on my list because this is where sport came from.  I’ve been to Greece and seen the original stadium, and while impressive and historical the allure of sport is to see the best athletes in the world pushing themselves in competition.  A love of sport isn’t complete without seeing it in it’s purest form as countries and competitors battle for national pride.  Flight costs are only slightly above average, and hotel costs are at least doubled for this event.  Less popular events will be easier to get tickets to, and some events are so lackluster that I’ve heard you can get tickets for free.  Women’s Power Lifting here I come.

Go to a World Series game – I had a tough time deciding if this was the right one for the baseball enthusiasts out there.  I went to Yankee Stadium last year and it’s a stunning ballpark, and I had perfect weather to watch the Yankees beat the Angels.  The only reason I went World Series and not with this specific stadium is the intensity.  It wasn’t that no one cared on a weekday afternoon in April, but there was a relaxed atmosphere about the place.  The electricity in the stands in the playoffs can’t be manufactured, it has to be experienced.  Flights generally don’t go up as the series length is hard to guess and the final teams aren’t known until a just before the games are played.  Hotel rooms fill up fast, so your best bet is to book hotels in multiple cities and cancel the ones you don’t need.  $1000 a ticket isn’t out of the question.

Play a round of golf at St Andrews in Scotland – One of the few things on the list where you are more than a spectator.  As someone who loves to play golf, and someone of Scottish decent this is a bit of a no-brainer.  But even if you’re neither of these things this is the birthplace of golf.  A friend of mine and I have already been mulling over how to make this trip work.  The flight is going to be about $1200 a person, depending on when and how you fly.  Hotels will vary depending on how long you stay, but bank on at least $200 a night.  The golf isn’t all that expensive, but your best bet is to book some kind of package that includes other rounds of golf and accommodations.  They start around $5000 (no flight included).

Go to a Stanley Cup Final – I looked into this last year and the ticket prices were enough to make my wallet cry out for mercy.  $1500 a ticket is about where you’d figure to start, and you still have to get to the city.  Much like the MLB the location isn’t known that far in advance, so flights and hotels usually aren’t over priced.  Seeing a game in a classic hockey town is not a bad option either.  I’ve been to all but one of the original six teams home games, and Detroit to me gives you the best feel for a classic hockey stadium.

See a match at Wimbledon – Another situation of a draw for tickets, and good luck getting them.  I used to play tennis as a kid, but it never really took for me.  My dad is a huge fan and I’ve been trying to get tickets forever for him, but it never works.  Scalped tickets are thousands and flights are up there as the matches are the same time every year, right in the middle of peak tourist season.  So that helps.  But this is the exact opposite of most of the other events.  This is high class and reserved excitement.  This is the prim and proper way of a gentleman sport.  Even if it’s not your thing it would be worth a visit.  If nothing else it would impress all those stuck up people you get sat beside at corporate events.

Go to an NBA Finals game – Ticket prices for this vary with how often a team goes to the finals and how rich a city is.  Miami tickets were expensive because the city is wealthy on the whole, compared to San Antonio.  Its possible to go to a lot of sporting events and see a team blow out the other (Denver vs Seahawks in the Super Bowl last year), and even though the Spurs smoked the Heat last year in the series most of those games were close.  Close enough that it was exciting to watch.  Basketball is a rare combination of speed and power where you can get right up next to the players.  Courtside might be a bit rich for your blood, but it’s worthwhile going to the event live to catch the fever.

Play on a pro sporting surface – As a kid I’m sure you were playing any number of sports and imaging you were on the ice, or the field, or the diamond that your favorite team played on.  I’ve shot a few balls on an NBA court, ran the bases on an MLB diamond, even skated (be it very poorly) on an NHL rink.  If you think that imagining it as a kid, when you’re in your basement, was fun, imagining it as an adult on the actual surface is just so much better.  I would love to have a real QB throw me a pass on an NFL field, but I have to keep the list somewhat realistic.  This may not cost you a dime (it didn’t me).  Many venues offer fans (particularly kids) the chance to do this exact thing.  Sometimes it’s after the game, sometimes it’s a fan experience.  Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this.  You’ll be happy you did.

See your favorite team live at home – Ticket sales are going to depend on not only the team you are going to see, but also whom they are playing.  A rivalry game is going to be more, but if you don’t live in the city that your favorite team plays in that go for the gusto.  Some of us spend countless hours every week watching teams that we have a love for that borders on unhealthy.  If you’re that kind of fan than you have to do yourself a favor and go and see them in their home building.  If you don’t have a favorite team a few suggestions I could give you for a fun experience are : Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead (Guesses world record holder for loudest out door stadium), Boston Celtics at TD Garden (a real stadium full of real fans), New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium (probably the nicest baseball park out there ), and the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (there are plans for a new arena, and it won’t have the charm this place does).

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