My Sports Bucket List

I’ve been blessed to see some great sporting events in my life: two Final Fours; a handful of bowl games; and one of the most underrated college basketball rivalries, the Braggin’ Rights game between Illinois and Missouri.  I’ve watched the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs (although, sadly, before the greatest National Anthem singer of all time started performing).  And I was in the stands when Miami beat Florida State in the only overtime matchup of that storied rivalry.

I’ve never been to a Super Bowl, and wouldn’t want to if my Chicago Bears weren’t playing.  You couldn’t pay me to go to an NBA Final (unless maybe Kevin Garnett put on the T’wolves jersey again).  Baseball?  You call it the Great American Pastime, I call it the Great American Nap Time.  And if ANYONE suggests I attend a World Cup soccer game I will hunt them down and kill them.  This is a list of SPORTING events, not a list of reasons 3rd world people decide to riot.

So, with no further ado, here is my bucket list of the 10 sporting events I want to attend before I die.

10.  Louisville-Kentucky Basketball

Perhaps it’s because I grew up with the Illinois-Missouri Braggin’ Rights game, but I love non-conference rivalry games in college basketball.  Conference play is great, the rivalries are special, but there’s something about two teams located relatively close to each other but playing in different leagues, battling for regional pride.  When I lived in San Diego the best game of the year was between lowly San Diego State of the Mountain West and even lowlier University of San Diego of the WCC.  The cross-city matchup of Xavier-Cincinnati is another game that gets the respective fans’ blood boiling.

And Louisville-Kentucky might just be the best of these matchups.  Two historic programs (Kentucky has 14 Final Fours, Louisville has 8) in the same state, a coach (Rick Pitino) that has coached at both schools, what more could you ask for?  I don’t even have a rooting interest in this game (although I’ve never quite forgiven UK for stealing that Regional Final from the Illini in 1984), it’d just be a helluva game and event to witness.

9. Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings hockey

Two Original Six franchises, winners of two of the last four Stanley Cups, and did I mention the greatest National Anthem singer of all time?  Even if you don’t like hockey this is a classic matchup, great teams with great fans.  Not to mention there’s always the chance you might get hit by an octopus.

I have to admit I would certainly have a rooting interest in this one.  While I’m not a Blackhawks fan per se, I’ve always hated the Red Wings.  I almost cried when the Hawks stupidly traded Chris Chelios to the Wings.  So if I ever get the chance I’ll be wearing my Chelios Blackhawks jersey, bangin’ on the glass and spewing hateful profanities at whatever commie Russian bastard is playing for the Wings that day.

8.  Monaco Grad Prix-

I don’t know anything about auto racing.  And I know even less about Formula-1 racing, which takes place almost exclusively overseas.  But I do know the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo is one of the wealthiest, snobbiest, most elitist events in the entire world.  And it brings girls like this to its week of festivities:

Oh, and the cars go really fast too.  ‘Nuff said!

7. Texas- Texas A&M football

Remember what I said about non-conference rivalries?  In state matchups?  Well, how about a bitter rivalry between teams that used to be in the same conference but now have gone through a nasty divorce and hate each other even more than ever?  If these teams ever start playing again (and it appears 2018 is the earliest possible) I would love to be there.  This was already an intense rivalry in the most football-mad state in the Union.  Now that they’ve parted ways it will be even nastier.

6. Kansas-Missouri basketball

A lot of rivalries like to call themselves the “Border War.”  In this case, it’s actually true.  Dating back to “Bleeding Kansas” and the atrocities committed by both Kansas free-staters and Missouri pro-slavers, these two states just have not seen eye to eye.  And like the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, these schools are going their separate ways now, meaning if they do meet again it will have to be a non-conference matchup.  Think there will be some added animosity?

5. Florida-Florida State football

For the record, I love everything about Florida State.  I love their racist mascot, Osceola:

I love their ridiculously hot student body:

And Charlie Ward is my favorite football player ever:

So is it any wonder that I’d love to see the ‘Noles play their biggest rival?  (Personally I hate the ‘Canes more than the Gators, but I’ve already been to one of those games.)  It’s true, I suffer from Seminole envy and wish I had gone to school there instead of that school in the Midwest that caved to political correctness and gave away their 80-plus year mascot tradition.

4. Buffalo Sabres-Ottawa Senators hockey

The Sabres and Senators have been each others nemesis ever since the lockout ended in 2005.  The Senators were one of the best teams in the NHL in ’06, but the Sabres crushed their Stanley Cup dreams with a 4-1 throttling in the Conference Semis.  The highlight of the series was this shorthanded series-clincher:

Alas, the next year the tables were turned, as the Sabres were the favorites and were unceremoniously knocked out of the Conference Finals by Ottawa.  Since then both teams have pretty much sucked, but the games have still been passionate affairs, complete with plenty of hard hits.

3. Georgia-Florida football

Besides being a classic SEC rivalry, this game is the quite possibly the greatest sporting event around.  Played in Jacksonville every year (roughly halfway between the two campuses), it’s known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”  It’s a tailgaters dream come true.  Throw in one of the best mascots in sports, Uga, and usually two top-ranked football powers and you’re looking at one of the coolest weekends anyone could ever ask for.

2. Ohio State-Michigan football

You had to know my Midwestern, Big 10 roots would show up eventually.  Buckeyes-Wolverines is the ultimate sporting event.  It doesn’t have the flash of some of the trendier programs.  It doesn’t have the hot girls of southern schools.  It doesn’t even have that big of a tailgate tradition surrounding it (it’s too damn cold!).

Nope, this is just a football game.  No other reason to be there except to watch two of the greatest traditional powers slug it out in an old-fashioned slugfest.  I might even consider giving up drinking for a weekend if I were fortunate enough to attend this one.  Maybe…

1. Army-Navy football

If Ohio State-Michigan is all about the football, Army-Navy is all about most everything but the football.

It’s about “Duty.  Honor.  Country.”

It’s about “Don’t Tread on Me.”

It’s about our nation’s best and brightest, the men that will someday defend our freedom, playing a game they love for no other reason than a passion for competition.  And that’s good enough for me.

I had to leave a lot of great games off the list.  I could probably list a hundred without breaking a sweat.  What games would you put atop your list?

 

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