The ultimate sports bucket listSave
By Dylan Cleaver
If you had a choice of any sporting event in the world to see, what would you choose?
There's only one rule: it can't be anything you've ever seen before.
In 20 years or so of scribbling loosely about sport I've been fortunate enough to cover cricket and rugby world cups and somehow managed to make myself available to cover the final of the 2008 league counterpart when the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos in a stunning upset.
I've watched test cricket at Lord's. I've watched in person the NBA, the NHL and MLB. I've seen Jensen Button get the chequered flag at a grand prix while travelling 0km/h, and watched an Australian GP so boring I had to look it up on Wikipedia to recall whether it was Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg who had won.
Usain Bolt? I've sat level with the finish line at three Olympic 100m finals and watched him win two of them.
In a pre-journalism life I've even stood on the Kop and chanted Peter Beardsley's name as he scored a hattrick against Manchester United.
So yeah, shouldn't complain. But I will. As my "real-world" commitments have grown the opportunities to travel to watch sport have shrunk, so I've started contemplating a sports bucket list.
Some of them involve the event, some of them the places. One of them relates to a team I've long had a detached affinity for. Some of them are purely out of curiosity.
But without further prattling, here's 10 sporting things I'd love to see before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
(Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions, briefly explaining why and I'll run the best ones next week. Put "bucket list" in the subject line.)
1. A baseball game at Fenway Park. I'm not fussy here. A regular season game would be fine but a playoff even better. A Red Sox v Yankees day game would be perfect but I'd take a ticket to a near-meaningless interleague night game against the Miami Marlins if that's all that was going. I just want to sit in those 105-year-old bleachers, close my eyes and imagine what it must have been like when Ted Williams hit a home run in his last at bat at the park, or when Carlton Fisk waved it fair in the 1975 World Series.
2. Slopeside at the Winter Olympic downhill. I once stood at the top of the women's course from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and wondered how long I could stay in the tuck for before freaking out. It was about 5s and that was probably overstating it. Downhill skiers are stark, raving bonkers. And brilliant. But don't believe me, check out Franz Klammer. He's so cool his name became Cockney rhyming slang for hammer.
3. Summit finish on the Tour de France. The course changes every year, so while it would be nice to be there to watch a mountain top finish on L'Alpe d'Huez with its 21 hairpin turns and 13.8km of energy-sapping gradient, I'd be just as happy to watch the riders take on Mt Ventoux or the cols du Tourmalet or Galibier.
4. Boxing Day Ashes test. Have watched a lot of cricket live but the frisson of an Ashes test at Australia's concrete cathedral would give it some oomph.
5. Super Bowl. Because if you had the chance, why wouldn't you?
6. Superclasico, La Bombonera. I'd make no bones about wanting to be seated comfortably and far away from either end at the fiercest derby of them all, Boca Juniors v River Plate. Watching these Buenos Aires football giants go at it at River Plate's home ground, El Monumental, would be great but there's something about Boca's home ground that sounds that little bit more evocative. Argentine fans are not known for their restraint so you'd want to keep your wits about you.
7. Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. Ever since reading Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo debut, the idea of drinking bourbon cocktails at the Kentucky Derby has held an almost mystical allure. The race, I'm sure, would be mildly diverting too.
8. Final round of The Open, St Andrews. Having visited the Old Course and stood on the green of the infamous Road Hole (17th), it was desperately tricky to imagine how it could transform itself into the centre of the golfing universe once every five years, but even a golf cynic like myself would like to see it. Tommy Nakajima probably never wants to see it again.
9. A Nascar race at Talledega. Curious to know what it would be like to sit among 80,000 petrolheads who wear the term "redneck" not as a pejorative, but as a badge of honour. If you're going to watch Nascar, you're best to go into the belly of Alabama to do it. You might even see a big crash.
10. Sumo tournament, Kokugikan. Sumo is extremely ordered. There are six tournaments annually, all 15 days long. Three of the tournaments are in Tokyo and as the epicentre of the sumo world, the above stadium is where you want to be to see the ancient sport.
There are a few others that crossed my mind. I've been to Wimbledon and the Australian Open, but never Roland Garros or Flushing Meadows.
The Monte Carlo Rally would mix the most under-rated form of motorsport with the glitz and glamour of the principality.
If the Kentucky Derby is not available, the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley has always appealed, with that sweeping last turn that appears like the horses are going to run into the packed stand and short final straight.
There is no event here that will take me to the Africa, which is a bit of a shame, so I strongly considered watching test cricket under Table Mountain at Newlands.
Let me know what event I'd be mad to miss.
THE WEEK IN MEDIA ...
In the week of the Boston Marathon, this brilliant piece from Runner's World, featuring the controversial Alberto Salazar, is well worth repeating.