Bucket List: Sporting Events You Must Attend Before You Die

  • Cristiano Ronaldo
    World Cup Soccer Match

    What: Hopefully a U.S.A. match

    Why: If you thought college football games were fun, make sure to check out a soccer match played overseas before you bite the dust. If you can’t strut your country pride in a World Cup game, the next best option is to check out a FC Barcelona and Real Madrid matchup in the Champion’s League. Now’s the best time, too, as they have both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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  • Alabama, Auburn
    The Iron Bowl

    What: Alabama vs. Auburn

    Why: Michigan versus Ohio State might have a more impressive rivalry all time but considering the Buckeyes have dominated that one in the modern era, and since ‘Bama and the Tigers have been so, so good, this is now college football’s top rivalry. The fans hate each other, and the games are always good — don’t you remember last year? Don’t miss out.

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  • Torrey Smith, Ike Taylor
    Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh

    What: Ravens vs. Steelers, in Baltimore or Pittsburgh

    Why: This is the NFL’s best modern day rivalry and it’s not even close. These two teams have been so good for basically every year since the turn of the century, and for some reason every time they match up it almost always comes down to the final minute. Playing in the same division, in the same area of the country, with the same rugged, defense-first style, with fans that have a bad, bad history of hating each other, and you can probably see why you need to catch a game. They play at least twice a year — not even including the playoffs — so it shouldn’t be too hard to get tickets.

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  • Notre Dame
    Notre Dame Football

    What: football game in South Bend

    Why: No college football team has a more storied tradition, and going to South Bend to see the Fighting Irish is almost like going to a museum. The atmosphere doesn’t necessarily stack up to some of the larger SEC schools, but it makes up for it between the history, the fans, and the prestige. If you can catch the USC/ND rivalry, it beats just about any other football experience you could have, pro or college. Luckily for me, because of family now living in the area, I’ve been to a Notre Dame game each of the last three years.

    image via Eric

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  • Rucker Park
    Rucker Park Streetball

    What: Rucker Park streetball

    Why: The Rucker isn’t necessarily what it used to be, but it’s still the most hallowed ground in streetball. Dr. J made his name there. So did Kareem. Skip became a legend there. Kobe played there. The basketball playground mentality started in New York City and the Rucker is the epitome of that. In the summer, there’s still no better place to catch a game.

    image via Stefano Brivio

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  • Madison Square Garden

    What: New York Knicks in MSG

    Why: The Celtics and Lakers have greater legacies, but MSG is the pinnacle when it comes to NBA arenas. The Boston Garden no longer really exists anymore, and the Staples Center isn’t the Forum. If you’re in New York City in the winer or early spring, don’t miss out on going to a game here. And cheating to see the Nets in Brooklyn doesn’t count.

    image via Emmanuel Milou

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  • Shabazz Napier
    Final Four

    What: NCAA Championship

    Why: It’s the perfect finish to a perfect tournament. Even if you aren’t as crazy for March Madness as everyone else, you gotta admit that this game holds a certain appeal. The NBA shuts down for a night, and all the hours studying your brackets and making your upset picks often comes down to 40 minutes. Players go from no-names to legends in one night.

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  • Lambeau Field
    Lambeau Field

    What: Green Bay at Lambeau Field

    Why: The most famous NFL stadium is also the second-oldest, after Chicago’s Soldier Field. The Packers have been playing here since it opened in 1957. Two years later, Vince Lombardi showed up and the rest is history.

    In “The Ultimate Football Road Trip,” a travel guidebook written by first-time author Sean MacDonald, this stadium was rated as the best place in America to watch an NFL game. With a near monopoly over the region in terms of professional teams — they are one of the last great small town franchises — Green Bay has some of the most rabid fans in the game. Any true football fan needs to experience this place at least once.

    This season, Aaron Rodgers is going to light the NFL on fire so there’s no better time to take in a game, preferably against the Bears. Chicago and Green Bay have a rivalry that dates back to the very beginnings of the NFL.

    image via Jeramey Jannene

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  • Fenway Park
    Fenway Park

    What: A Red Sox game at Fenway

    Why: When it comes to sporting venues, you can argue no place is more beloved — and that’s in any sport — than Fenway Park. Old. Bad angles. Tough seats. Tiny seats. No space. You’ll have to appreciate the little things to get the most of it this place. Recently, with Boston being consistent World Series contenders, Fenway has been rocking and is welcoming to almost anyone. This is the perfect date for your significant other, and yet is still cool enough to roll to with just your boys.

    As someone who lived in Boston for close to 10 years, I can say this is truly a unique experience.

    image via Meuzic

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  • Russell Wilson
    Super Bowl

    What: Super Bowl

    Why: Because who doesn’t watch the Super Bowl and wish they were there? The action on the field is often a letdown — like last year when Seattle annihilated Denver — but it’s everything else that makes the NFL’s biggest game so much fun. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience in every sense of the word. Maybe you’ll get lucky and go when there’s a classic game. But even if the play is lopsided, anyone who attends the Super Bowl will talk about that night for the rest of their life.

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  • Oakland Raiders
    Oakland Raiders

    What: Oakland game in the Bay

    Why: This might be somewhat of a personal selection — hence why it comes up last on this list — but Raiders fans are the craziest SOBs in the country. Seriously. During the preseason this year when that brawl broke out between Oakland and Dallas, there were Raiders fans ripping the Cowboys players’ helmets off and attempting to use them as weapons. That’s just what they do. I had a college roommate who is a lifelong Raiders fan and he might be crazier than all of them.

    If you get a chance, head out to Oakland and see for yourself. You won’t find a better professional experience in all of football, probably in all of American professional sports.

    image via Luiz Eduardo

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Alabama, Auburn
  • Torrey Smith, Ike Taylor
  • Notre Dame
  • Rucker Park
  • Shabazz Napier
  • Lambeau Field
  • Fenway Park
  • Russell Wilson
  • Oakland Raiders

They say life is short. No matter how long you live, they’re probably right. Life is always too short to finish up everything you ever wanted to do. We all have bucket lists, and most likely you won’t ever get a chance to complete it all. Here’s mine:

-go skyjumping
-play Kobe Bryant one-on-one
-attend a Yankees/Red Sox playoff game
-swim with Great White Sharks
-go to a World Cup game
-become a wife carrying champion

I think that’s a pretty solid list, right? Not too ridiculous.

If you asked anyone — especially a warm-blooded male — about their bucket list, I’m sure it’d have a few sports-related topics on there. We spend years hearing about how incredible an experience the Iron Bowl is, or how insane the rivalry is between Michigan and Ohio State. Eventually, it gets to the point where you feel like you have to check it out. Like Spring Break in Panama City Beach, you got to do it once before it all fades to black.

Thankfully for me, I’ve already crossed a few things off my bucket list. Last year I went to a Notre Dame game where they played BYU in the home finale and it was the coldest game in South Bend since 1991. Frigid, but fun, and something I’ll be able to say I’ve done for the rest of my life.

With football returning recently in both the pro and college ranks, today we’re spotlighting some Sporting Events You Must Attend Before You Die. Don’t miss out on these.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney

image via Eric Killby