With the start of the U.S. Open this week, I began to think of the sports events I most want to see before I die. Let’s do it. I’ll set up the Kickstarter later.
Wimbledon/French Open/U.S. Open
What an amalgamation: major tennis tournaments, at historic venues, in three of the world’s most exciting cities. Yeah, I could spend two weeks in London, Paris and New York. I also think top-level tennis, like hockey, benefits greatly from watching live as opposed to on television. When the top players are on the court, the sway of the crowd seems infectious. And I haven’t even got to the Berries and Cream at the All-England Club.
College World Series
We’re talking about 11 straight days of baseball played at its highest leverage (two games per day quite often). Even if you don’t recognize the names, you can’t deny how pressure-packed the CWS is. Eight teams enter Omaha, only one team can win. And for most of the seniors, it is their last gasp of competitive baseball. I would have liked to go to Rosenblatt before it was torn down, but at least the new place seems a bit more comfortable.
There are many college football games I would like to see in-person: the Iron Bowl, the Red River Shootout, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the Sequoia Bowl, the Battle of Bull Run, the Lebanese Civil War, the Potato Cup. But can you beat The Granddaddy of Them All? Can you beat the Tournament of Roses? Can you beat being in Pasadena on January 1 while the rest of the country is snowed in? It is the last postseason bowl people actually care about, and that alone is significant.
FIFA World Cup
If you watched even a little bit of the World Cup this summer, I don’t need to explain why this is on the bucket list. It is the pinnacle of international team sports, a worldwide passion packed into one tournament. While I wouldn’t dump out the savings account to attend Russia 2018 or Qatar 2022, I will start counting the pennies for the next time the World Cup returns to the United States or Western Europe. Those are the ideal venues.
Watching a golf tournament in person is not my idea of a fun time. Being on my feet all day in huge crowds and often-sweltering heat? Yeah, I would rather take my own clubs and play a quick 9 at Divot Hills. But The Masters is different. Augusta National blooms off the television screen, and I can handle Georgia in spring. The history there grows like loblolly pines. Even if you don’t love golf, you can enjoy the Masters. There is a small part of every man in America that dreams of spending the first week of April with his dad at Augusta.
World Baseball Classic in Caribbean
As much as I adore baseball, it will never have a tournament that comes close to the FIFA World Cup. The importance of international play is just not deeply ingrained like it is for soccer. But in a few nations it comes close, mostly the Caribbean nations, which are used to international competition with the Caribbean World Series. Did you see the craziness of Dominican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan fans in the San Juan pool of the last World Baseball Classic? More significantly, did you hear them? What a frenzy. I would love to witness it.
Well, I have already been to the Summer Olympics, so this would naturally follow. The hockey tournaments are some of the best action the sport has to offer. I want to watch speed skating with oranged-out Dutch people, biathlon with whacked-out Norwegian people, curling with kind Canadians. C’mon, Oslo, bid for it. That would be a damn-near-perfect Winter Olympics.
A World Series in Pittsburgh
Pretty, pretty please?