I am NOT an athlete.
The very fact that number three on my Bucket List is to weigh 14 stone or less someday should, ironically, add weight to that statement.
That being said, I do get hyped up for a good sporting event. There is so much passion and real emotion behind every sport nowadays, and they all come with their own experiences.
For example, in football, the crowd roars at every goal whilst the manliest of men embrace like husband and wife. In tennis, a simple round of applause or occasional gasp can make you move a little closer to the edge of your seat. Then you have things like cricket, which I have first-hand experience of, is both of those things squashed together with the addition of alcohol.
I’m sure I may be missing some big ones off my list here and I have no doubt some people may even moan that I counted wrestling as an actual sport. However, and this is really important:
“it’s mmmmyyyyyyyy fff***ing blog”
With that in mind, let’s explore my top 10.
#10 See a tennis match at Wimbledon
In the UK, if you want to see live tennis, I’m told there is no better place than where everyone drops their national colours and wears white. When I did some research, I found that wearing white is a tradition that goes back to the 1800s and it’s mainly in place because the sweat patches on coloured kits were deemed unsightly. Antiperspirant was not invented until the early 1900s.
So why go and see live tennis? I’m a simple man of simple tastes. I do not watch tennis because I’m passionate about it. I watch it for other reasons laid out below (Some of which I know are childish):
They are hitting those balls so hard and fast, at some point it’s going to hit someone in the nuts and make me cry with laughter.
The strawberries and cream - on average 10,000 litres of cream and 28,000 kg of strawberries are consumed every year during the two-week tournament. They’ll have to double that when I go!
I know they cannot help it, but when they give those balls a good whack, a lot of them grunt like they are coming to the end of a night of passion, and that makes me chuckle.
You could run into a celebrity or a royal – or at least see them from a distance anyway. Tennis at Wimbledon seems to be the main sport that attracts those kinds of people through its tradition and prestige.
Towards the end of the match, if it’s a close game, you can cut the tension with a knife, and you feel like your insides are being twisted as the ball is hurtled back and forth.
We all have our reasons for the things on our Bucket List, but these are mine for tennis at Wimbledon.
#9 Attend a live boxing match
When we were kids and heard there was a fight in the playground, what did we all do?
Did we run and tell the teacher? Did we ignore the childish behaviour of others and not degrade ourselves for being part of the crowd? – Hell no. We ran to the playground and watched the brutality unfold.
As adults, thankfully, we have matured a little. For example, if I see a fight going on down the pub or two of my friends are getting a bit heavy handed with each other, I will of course alert the authorities, try to break it up or simply ignore it. However, in the back of anyone’s mind in that situation, there is that animalistic desire to watch something like that.
Boxing, or even something like the UFC allows us to give in to those desires in an officially supported, controlled and as safe as possible way. Just like tennis, I can’t sit here and tell you I am passionate about boxing, I’m a lover not a fighter, but I can tell you that I want to experience being a part of that crowd, and take part in both the celebration of the victor and the heartbreak of the loser.
– and yes of course I want to hear Michael Buffer live and in person say “Let’s get readyyyyy to rummmbbllleeeeeeeee”. Side note, did you know that he registered that as his trademark in 1992 and it netted him over $400 million by 2018! I’m in the wrong business.
#8 Go and watch live cricket!
Before the Bucket List thing ever entered my mind, I did have the privilege of attending the T20 cricket final in Birmingham on two occasions, with my more cricket enthusiastic friends and I even went to see some county cricket games in London. I didn’t necessarily catch the cricket bug, but I did enjoy myself enough to say I would go again and recommend others give it a try.
A lot of people think cricket is long, confusing, and dull. Well I can tell you, only two of those things are true. Yes, a game of cricket can be quite long (hell, the T20 final I went to was on for at least 7 straight hours). Yes, it is confusing if you do not know the rules or pay much attention. You will ask yourself questions like, why do only two guys wear a helmet? Or why is everyone screaming all of a sudden? However, I can definitely tell you that it is not dull, for one reason and one reason only. The crowd.
I used to think the crowd at a cricket game was a bunch of old guys, wearing knitted jumpers eating cucumber sandwiches and watching the cricket through a pair of binoculars. The reality is, the make up of a crowd at a cricket game is as follows (keep in mind, I was in the ‘party end’ when I went, so my perception may be one sided):
Edgbaston Stadium (Home of the T20 Final) – 25,000 people capacity.
80% of the people are wasted
15% of the people are on their way to being wasted
5% are children, or people that do not want to drink, but both are affected by the context of the situation, that they act like they are wasted
100% of those people drinking would also have waited a long time to get the beverages required to get to that level of wastedness.
It is hilarious. You’ll see people like Donald Trump, The Ghost Busters, Jesus Christ and I think I even saw a group of people dressed as each item of a full cooked English breakfast last time – and all of these people are loving life and occasionally actually watch the cricket. The stadium and players join in with the banter too and some of the food on offer is incredible (both incredible to taste and incredibly overpriced). You just have to give it a go.
#7 See an NFL match in the US
I'm going to refer to it as American Football in this post, as I refuse to call European football, soccer. (Remember “it’s mmmmyyyyyyyy fff***ing blog”).
I’ll admit, I don’t know anything about the NFL outside of some key words and what research I did to write this down. However, that’s enough to gain my interest in this sport and therefore, it’s going on my list. The main keywords I know about and my imaginative descriptions are:
End zone – The zone at the end of the pitch? Sounds about right.
Tom Brady – That guy everyone loves but was also hated at one time.
Touch down – Scoring a goal with your hands?
Field Goal - Scoring a goal with your feet?
Super Bowl – A massive bowl of cereal for the winners? Or more realistically, I imagine this is the trophy you get if you win.
The Miami Dolphins – This one is mainly from Ace Ventura, when he saves Snowflake, the Dolphins' mascot. Does this make me a Miami Dolphins fan?
However, one thing I do know, is these contests are supposed to be one of the biggest and best experience in the US you can have when watching a professional sport (no offence to the NBA or Baseball). Even around the stadiums, people use it as a reason to party.
America does have its problems, but from what I can tell, American football does seem to bring the country together.
#6 See live darts
Darts was something I got into in my teen years, and by that I mean I bought loads of darts and me and my friend played it in my parent's garage for a few months.
It may not have been this massive thing, but I did learn the basics and managed to hit the bullseye a few times. To this day, I have a dartboard at my place and I still get the odd buzz every time I hit a triple 20.
Playing with a few friends is all well and good, but when you see Premier League darts, you can’t help but feel it takes the sport to a new level. To be fair, I could take my description of live cricket and replace the word cricket with darts, and I think it would still be accurate. Sitting about, having drinks with your mates, while everyone around you is dressed up or screaming numbers at the cameras and occasionally you get to watch the darts too! Darts is my kind of sport, no running, a bit of concentration and math.
Sign me up!
#5 Attend an Olympic event
London hosted the 2012 Olympic games and I am really annoyed with myself, because I didn't take advantage and go to an event.
Just another reason why I wish I wrote my Bucket List earlier. However, the Olympics doesn’t just happen once, and I like to think I will be around for a few more yet.
There are usually 28 different sports that go on at an Olympics, however, some countries have added more when they come to host it. Tokyo, for example, have apparently had a request to add five more sports (including baseball, skateboarding, and surfing) to the list.
This obviously all starts with the opening ceremony. Whilst no sports get played, it certainly starts the competition off with a bang, and I would make sure this is included in my experience.
When it comes to the actual sports involved, I would use it to see a sport I normally wouldn’t go out of my way to see. Take skateboarding for example. I don’t not like skateboarding, I just never really gave much thought to it. However, it won’t be done much bigger and better than at an Olympics so it’s worth checking out.
That’s the other thing about Bucket Lists. Not only should you list all the things you want to do, you should also make room for giving things a try (at least the stuff you’re not scared of, like me and sky diving).
#4 Go to a world cup football game
Unless England wins a World Cup hosting bid anytime soon, this will definitely involve having to do a bit of travel, which means there’s more opportunities to tick other things off at the same time.
International football, particularly from an English point of view, is seen as a lower standard of football than that of the domestic leagues. That's a testament to how good our domestic league is if anything else.
However, supporting your national country in one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world should be something you do as part of any Bucket List in my opinion.
You can put domestic football squabbles aside and cheer on players you wouldn’t normally, and if the tournament is kind to you, you might even find yourself witnessing history with your own national team.
The last world cup saw England reach the semi-finals, only to be knocked out by Croatia. I wasn’t there, but I was down the pub with some friends, and despite the loss, I can tell you that everyone in that pub wished they could be at that stadium in Russia.
#3 See live international rugby
Remember, I’m a lover not a fighter, so rugby was never my thing growing up. Tag rugby was nice, because it involved very little pain, but other than that I was happy to let this sport pass me by.
That is until I watched the world cup one year when I was down the pub with some friends. It was England vs New Zealand.
The first thing that got my attention was the New Zealand players and their Haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge in the Maori culture – if you haven’t seen one before, get on YouTube. I was so impressed, that it stuck with me to the day I wrote my list and I added learn how to Haka to it.
The second was the intensity this sport is played at and the willingness to absorb punishment, all to score some points. I was so used to footballers going down at the slightest of touches that seeing a man get punched and kicked in the face, get covered in blood, break a nose and still get up to tackle someone else was god like.
That game alone made me want to experience something like this live some day and become part of the crowd willing those giant men across the line. Of course, I am an England man so it will be one of their games for sure.
#2 See a football match in every major European league
If you aren't a football fan, then you can be forgiven if you think that the Premier League in England is the be all and end all of club football – but it is not.
Countries all over Europe have top footballing leagues, and although some of them may not have the same intensity or level of competition amongst the teams in the Premier League, they all have their own styles.
Here is a few that I want to see live:
England – The Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal (Done this one actually), or I guess you could say Manchester United vs Liverpool/Manchester City
Germany – Bundesliga
Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund
Italy – Serie A
Inter Milan vs AC Milan
Spain – La Liga
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
France – Ligue 1
Paris Saint-Germain vs Lyon
You can include Scotland, Portugal, and the Netherlands etc if you like, but the above are the ones that make it to my list. Same game, but different country, atmosphere, stadium, fans, and players means you will enjoy every minute of every match. Plus, you’d be in France, Germany, Spain or Italy – which won’t be too bad either.
#1 Go to Wrestlemania
I started getting into wrestling when I was a teenager. My friends and I would watch an episode of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown, play the PlayStation games (Smackdown vs Raw 2007 was the best - fight me!) and I even remember for my birthday one year, my friend Max and I went to see a house show, starring HHH, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Beth Phoenix and many more. What a night that was. Then like most people, I grew out of wrestling as I started to focus more on my studies and everything else that suddenly becomes more interesting when you become that age.
Fast forward a good 10 years and at work I’m interviewing a potential candidate for a place on my team, and in response to the ‘tell me about yourself’ part of the interview, he said that he was into wrestling. Suddenly all my knowledge on wrestling came flooding back to me and we rambled on about how cool it all was. That very evening, I was re-watching some of the classics as well as catching up on everything I had missed. (The guy also got the job in case you were wondering).
The grandest stage of them all for wrestling, is Wrestlemania. It’s a very long (5 hours was the longest I believe) event watched by up to 100,000 people in person and millions more on Pay Per View all over the world. It’s the event where WWE flexes its spending power and talented roster to put on a show for all the WWE fans out there. Wrestlemania though, is not just one event, not really. It’s an entire weekend. If you did the whole WWE package experience, your Wrestlemania weekend will include:
Friday: Smackdown – 2-hour show
Saturday: NXT Take Over – 2-hour PPV
Sunday: Wrestlemania – 5-hour PPV
Monday: Night Raw – 3-hour show
Plus, every day, whatever city is hosting it, the place is alive with wrestling. Meet and greets, parties, fan meetups you name it, it is happening that weekend. I am not embarrassed to say in my Bucket List top 10 are three wrestling related items, and in fact my whole list has at least 11 things to do with wrestling. When you enjoy something, take it in as much as you can!
There we go, my top 10 sports related Bucket List items. Honourable mentions go out to Formula One, NBA, Baseball, Golf and all the other ones that would easily make a top 25 list. What sports would make it on your list? Get it recorded, get it planned, and go do it!