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What Is The Sporting Event You Regret Missing The Most?


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Speaking of hockey, the one event that would have been amazing to have been part of was the Miracle on Ice game between USA and the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics.  The game was shown on tape delay on ABC but I couldn't wait; before the broadcast started I called a number I had called a hundred times before to get Mets scores: 976-1313, the infamous Sports Phone.  The recorded message told me that one of the greatest upsets in sports history had occurred.  I have to say it made watching the game that much more enoyable to my teenage self but still, to have been there, watching it unfold ...

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I have three different answers for three different situations:

1) Birds In Hand - In 1993, the MLB All-Star Game was held at the fairly new Camden Yards, and I was living in Laurel at the time, so it wasn't even that far. There was a mail-in lottery for who would get the tickets - you had to mail in a note with a reason you wanted to go, and you could send in as many as you wanted. Matt's mom worked in marketing, and was clever enough to create brightly colored pieces of paper that would stand out in a hoard of mail that said something silly like, "We want to see the birds fly on July 13th!" - well, of *course* we got selected - they were bright pink, yellow, blue, etc. And we got possession of two tickets for face value which was something like $40. However, news stories began to circulate about tickets on the secondary market going for what was then a crazy amount of money - something like $250-300 each. That was a *lot* of money to us back then, and the money was worth more than the tickets, so we ended up selling them (that was never, ever our original intent, but those prices seemed crazy, and we were not at all wealthy). Well, we sold them, and even though I guess each ticket would be $500 in today's dollars, I wish we had gone - how many people can say they've been to two All-Star games in a lifetime? Well, there's always 2018, perhaps.

2) Any Tennis Grand Slam - I've probably alluded to tennis enough times where people know I'm an ex-tournament player, but the truth is, I've not once been to any of the four grand-slam championships - not even the U.S. Open, not even the preliminary rounds - the closest I've ever come was taking the Paris Metro out to Roland Garros and looking at the stadium (but there was no tournament going on at the time). I have never seen Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic play in person (I have, however, seen Connors play in 1974 for the Baltimore Blast (right after he won Wimbledon - he won 3 Grand Slams that year), and in 1972, I even got to *hit* with Don Budge (no, really, I hit tennis balls with Don Budge! I went to his tennis camp, and every camper got to play a few points with him - my parents were *amazed* because they got to see it.) which I guess is the second biggest sporting thrill of my life after meeting Brooks Robinson). I guess the greatest match I've ever seen was the Andre Agassi - Yevgeny Kafelnikov final at the Sovran National Bank Tournament on 16th and Kennedy - they were #1 and #2 in the world at the time, I believe, and I supposed at the time that it was about the highest level of tennis that had ever been played. And yet, it would pale compared to watching The Big Three today.

3) The 1982 Orange Bowl - I was a Junior at Clemson that year, and we went 12-0 and beat Nebraska 22-15 for a perfect season and the National Championship. A lot of my friends went and I was invited, but it was over Christmas break, and I watched the game on TV at home.

and, I suppose, a fourth:

4) NFL Football - This is unbelievable, but I've never been to an NFL game in my life. I was even invited, for free, to the Redskins-Dolphins game last week, but couldn't go. I've turned down several offers - at this point, I just have no real pressing desire to see the Redskins, even though I'll probably go to a game this year just to experience one.

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What is the sporting event you regret missing the most?

Well I had never planned on it nor thought of trying to get there, so I don't regret it in the sense of an opportunity missed....but if I could have attended any event it would be the Miracle on Ice Hockey match between the US and USSR in 1980 in Lake Placid, similar to what  Seanchai referenced above.

From about '74-80 I always hunted around to see about getting tickets to the ACC basketball championship.  Never went.  Tickets were always relatively expensive and the process was always going to be time consuming.  But those are events I could have made with enough determination.  In that regard I didn't get to what is often described as the best college basketball game ever  NC State vs U Maryland; 1974, in the ACC finals at a time when only one team from the league could play in the NCAA championship.  I watched that game on TV.  It merits that moniker (along with other matches).  It was played at the highest level of competitiveness for the entire regular 40 minutes and then went into overtime, by which time players were completely spent.  Each team only used 7 players.  10 of the 14 who played were drafted by the pro's.  It was an example of the peak of competitiveness.

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2) Any Tennis Grand Slam - I've probably alluded to tennis enough times where people know I'm an ex-tournament player, but the truth is, I've not once been to any of the four grand-slam championships - not even the U.S. Open, not even the preliminary rounds - the closest I've ever come was taking the Paris Metro out to Roland Garros and looking at the stadium (but there was no tournament going on at the time).

I've never seen a major either, but when I was in London I made the pilgrimage to Wimbledon. They have a little museum there where you can see the trophies. Part of the tour includes a visit to Centre Court where you can watch the grass grow.

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2) Any Tennis Grand Slam - I've probably alluded to tennis enough times where people know I'm an ex-tournament player, but the truth is, I've not once been to any of the four grand-slam championships - not even the U.S. Open, not even the preliminary rounds - the closest I've ever come was taking the Paris Metro out to Roland Garros and looking at the stadium (but there was no tournament going on at the time). I have never seen Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic play in person (I have, however, seen Connors play in 1974 for the Baltimore Blast (right after he won Wimbledon - he won 3 Grand Slams that year), and in 1972, I even got to *hit* with Don Budge (no, really, I hit tennis balls with Don Budge! I went to his tennis camp, and every camper got to play a few points with him - my parents were *amazed* because they got to see it.) which I guess is the second biggest sporting thrill of my life after meeting Brooks Robinson). I guess the greatest match I've ever seen was the Andre Agassi - Yevgeny Kafelnikov final at the Sovran National Bank Tournament on 16th and Kennedy - they were #1 and #2 in the world at the time, I believe, and I supposed at the time that it was about the highest level of tennis that had ever been played. And yet, it would pale compared to watching The Big Three today.

I've never seen a major either, but when I was in London I made the pilgrimage to Wimbledon. They have a little museum there where you can see the trophies. Part of the tour includes a visit to Centre Court where you can watch the grass grow.

Ok folks, this can be fixed you know.  Grounds passes for the Open (can't go into Ashe) are around $100 & all the back courts are usually abuzz with good matches, singles & doubles.  Plus Armstrong and Court 17 are accessible for some top player matches.  My wife and I were right on court side watching Penetta and Errani play doubles against two good American teams in the early rounds"¦ sitting next to their entourage, including Fognini.   Who knew we were watching a champion?!  Add to that a reasonable Amtrak roundtrip or an easy car ride & maybe an airbnb place or Bklyn boutique hotel for a night or two.  Let me know & I'll help sort out the details with you.  I'll even take you to dinner in Flushing's Chinatown!  C'mon"¦ make a dent in the bucket list.

As an aside gloat, let me say that I've actually been to Wimbledon for the tournament, standing on line for tkts for only a couple of hours -- they have a very open, fair system of ticket sales there. And, of course, I've been to the US Open every year for"¦ well, for quite a few"¦ even when it was in Forest Hills and wasn't a big thing.  Never hit with Don Budge though.

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Agree w/Steve R. Great time excellent price easy trip. Hey..its the US open.

Being "older" and from the NY metro area I too visited the US Open when it was at Forest Hills.  I've been back sporadically at the larger more modern better current location and have specifically done the day passes as he recommends.  It is a worthwhile and a really terrific suggestion.

The cost of a day pass is comparable to that of any event, basketball/hockey game, concert, etc.......or less.   Its an enjoyable day long event where you can watch multiple world class players in a very intimate setting, astonishingly close at times.  You can move around, sit/stand, sit in shade, catch rays, etc.  Its a day long treat!!!!

From DC as he referenced its a drive or short flight or train ride followed by a convenient NY subway ride.  Very direct.  Being from that area I've gone up and stayed with and/or visited the Open with NY metro residents who are friends or family, eliminating the need for a hotel.  Its amazing that one can go there and see people you might know from decades before and different environments....heck 500-700,000 visit over the two weeks.

You see the greatest tennis players in the world.  Its phenomenal.    (and I didn't even realize there was a Flushing Chinatown---probably worth a visit)   Steve's is a terrific, extremely doable suggestion for tennis fans.

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Wish I could have experienced the Saints' first home game in the Superdome after Katrina. They played Atlanta, a team they hate. But the Saints and Atlanta are kind of like Ohio State and Michigan. You want to beat each other's brains out on the field, but off field, outside of sports, there is a lot of respect. It meant so much to the city to have the team back, and Drew Brees gave everyone hope.

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I say this because I never saw Wayne Gretzky play live and in person.

I was at school in Arkansas. Even though in Arkansas, I had a couple friends who also liked hockey. One of my friends is from Missouri and a Blues fan. When Gretzky was traded to the Blues, we bought tickets to see them play the Avalanche. Unfortunately, we bought the tickets well in advance and Gretzky ended up being injured and not playing in that game. We did get to see Sakic and Forsberg, but that didn't quite excite the non-hockey fans in the group.

Obviously seeing that version of Gretzky wouldn't quite be the height of his career, but I would have at least been able to say I saw him live.

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4) NFL Football - This is unbelievable, but I've never been to an NFL game in my life. I was even invited, for free, to the Redskins-Dolphins game last week, but couldn't go. I've turned down several offers - at this point, I just have no real pressing desire to see the Redskins, even though I'll probably go to a game this year just to experience one.

If you want to experience an NFL game, I'd avoid FedEx Field this season. Free tickets are nice, but there's a reason they are free.

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When my kids leave the nest, I have a vision for my wife and I: Once the Super Bowl teams are determined, we will flip a coin to determine which team we'll become fans of.

We will then book a flight to that city (NOT the Super Bowl itself) and spend the weekend there - and a suitable dive/sports bar where we will watch the game. We'll buy the local jersey and live/die with the real fans.

I'm not huge into sports but some of my best sports experiences have been at such bars. Years ago I was hired to play at the on-campus Georgetown U bar the night of the NCAA championship game, the one with Patrick Ewing that Gtown won. The end of the game was a blur, literally, as I ducked under the equipment while the room erupted in flying beer cups, screaming and people jumping around mosh-pit style. It was as if a tornado blew through.

The best part of sport is that comraderie- and while it is guaranteed in the game venue, it can also be found in off-venue sites.

So maybe we'll go to Minnesota or NYC or San Francisco in late January...but we know we'll find someone to cheer with and collectively, we'll either feel the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

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Been there. Took my son, who was 12 at the time. Wonderful experience....except for the greedy jerks who were grabbing the free Baltimore Sun "Extra" newspapers that were published and being distributed after the 5th inning. By grabbing them all up and selling them for $5 each to the exiting crowd who didn't know they were free, thumbs down....

I have three different answers for three different situations:

1) Birds In Hand - In 1993, the MLB All-Star Game was held at the fairly new Camden Yards, and I was living in Laurel at the time, so it wasn't even that far. There was a mail-in lottery for who would get the tickets - you had to mail in a note with a reason you wanted to go, and you could send in as many as you wanted. Matt's mom worked in marketing, and was clever enough to create brightly colored pieces of paper that would stand out in a hoard of mail that said something silly like, "We want to see the birds fly on July 13th!" - well, of *course* we got selected - they were bright pink, yellow, blue, etc. And we got possession of two tickets for face value which was something like $40. However, news stories began to circulate about tickets on the secondary market going for what was then a crazy amount of money - something like $250-300 each. That was a *lot* of money to us back then, and the money was worth more than the tickets, so we ended up selling them (that was never, ever our original intent, but those prices seemed crazy, and we were not at all wealthy). Well, we sold them, and even though I guess each ticket would be $500 in today's dollars, I wish we had gone - how many people can say they've been to two All-Star games in a lifetime? Well, there's always 2018, perhaps.

My daughter was born on July 10th, and I had tickets to FanFest as well as the game....took my son to FanFest at the Convention Center, but gave away the tickets to the game so as to be the gracious dad who stayed home with the baby and shared diaper-chaging duties with the recovering mom....after the divorce many years alter, I wish I had gone to the game!

Unlike you, Don, I don't regret never having been to an NFL game. I consider both NFL and NBA to be television games. At the venue, they are less enjoyable -- crowds, noise, parking, expense, and lots of other factors -- and these games probably wouldn't exist or be anywhere near as big as they are if not for television. Baseball remains the most enjoyable ballpark sport, and has always been so -- baseball was the National Pastime before TV was invented. But baseball doesn't need TV to survive.

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Unlike you, Don, I don't regret never having been to an NFL game. I consider both NFL and NBA to be television games. At the venue, they are less enjoyable -- crowds, noise, parking, expense, and lots of other factors -- and these games probably wouldn't exist or be anywhere near as big as they are if not for television. Baseball remains the most enjoyable ballpark sport, and has always been so -- baseball was the National Pastime before TV was invented. But baseball doesn't need TV to survive.

Interesting. Not that I have a plethora of experience, but I consider NFL to be the best, with NHL second. Honestly, I've been completely bored at the handful of Wizards games I've attended and I haven't found Nats games to be nearly as enjoyable either. And I'm a fan of all four sports and all four local teams, so I don't think that's the determining factor, although I'll admit that my fandom for the Redskins far exceeds the Caps which exceeds the Nats and Wizards.

Crowd excitement is big to me. While I'm an introvert, I LOVE being surrounded by people (as long as I'm not required to interact with them) and feeling the energy of the crowd. (I also LOVE being downtown for the 4th of July fireworks for the same reason.) For me, the NFL excels in the aspect of anticipation. You can just feel the crowd excitement ticking up with each first down or good play on defense. String together some good plays and you have that lovely thing called momentum on your side. Other sports have that, too, but I just haven't experienced it in the stadium like I have in the NFL. And the NFL game actually involves the crowd in the outcome. I tend to think things like sports talk radio exaggerate the impact of home field advantage and the 12th man, but it does exist and can have some kind of impact. In fact, at one time, the NFL actually made new rules to penalize the home team if the crowd was being too loud and the offense couldn't hear each other because it is such a factor. Thankfully, they quickly got rid of that nonsense and we're back to causing false starts and delay of games.

Maybe if all our local teams could be good at the same time, we could do a nice experiment...but that's not going to happen.

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The best part of sport is that comraderie- and while it is guaranteed in the game venue, it can also be found in off-venue sites.

I agree. I haven't done too much of watching games in restaurants/bars with random people, but they've been fun the few times I've done that. I tend to just want to watch at home by myself so I can just sit and sulk in my recliner as yet another season slips away, but misery really does love company.

However, I do question your plan of finding a team to root for. In my experience, that's just not how it works but I'm sure there are multiple paths to fandom. Which gives me an idea for a new thread, which I'll start: How did you become a fan of your favorite teams?

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Interesting. Not that I have a plethora of experience, but I consider NFL to be the best, with NHL second. Honestly, I've been completely bored at the handful of Wizards games I've attended and I haven't found Nats games to be nearly as enjoyable either. And I'm a fan of all four sports and all four local teams, so I don't think that's the determining factor, although I'll admit that my fandom for the Redskins far exceeds the Caps which exceeds the Nats and Wizards.

Think about football for a minute, from an economic standpoint....no team makes money on attendance. There are 8 home games, and the ticket revenue basically pays for stadium upkeep, stadium staff and massive utility bills. The rest of the revenue is from TV packages, and if you take the total of all that revenue and divide by 32, you bascially have the salary cap plus money that the pompous billionaire owners pocket.

The only team that is public, and releases its numbers, is the Packers. They raked in a cool $136M in local revenue in 2014, but their total expenses were $298M....they received $188M in TV money, otherwise they would have been in a major deficit hole. The Packers have 360,000 shareholders, so I'm not sure if any of them received a dividend or not....

MLB, on the other hand, has 81 home games, and teams usually draw somewhere around 2-3 million fans per year. At a rough $50 per fan per seat, that's a cool $150M per team in local revenue before you get to 81 games of a captive audience (as opposed to 8 NFL games) to merchandise, concessions, parking -- $5 water and $10 beer. That's times 81 for baseball, but only times 8 for football. Oh yeah, they also have a lucrative TV contract.

Football would't exist in its present form without TV; baseball loves TV, but doesn't need it to survive.

(As for hockey, I'm told that most hockey teams actually pay for radio coverage....)

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Think about football for a minute, from an economic standpoint....no team makes money on attendance. There are 8 home games, and the ticket revenue basically pays for stadium upkeep, stadium staff and massive utility bills. The rest of the revenue is from TV packages, and if you take the total of all that revenue and divide by 32, you bascially have the salary cap plus money that the pompous billionaire owners pocket.

The only team that is public, and releases its numbers, is the Packers. They raked in a cool $136M in local revenue in 2014, but their total expenses were $298M....they received $188M in TV money, otherwise they would have been in a major deficit hole. The Packers have 360,000 shareholders, so I'm not sure if any of them received a dividend or not....

MLB, on the other hand, has 81 home games, and teams usually draw somewhere around 2-3 million fans per year. At a rough $50 per fan per seat, that's a cool $150M per team in local revenue before you get to 81 games of a captive audience (as opposed to 8 NFL games) to merchandise, concessions, parking -- $5 water and $10 beer. That's times 81 for baseball, but only times 8 for football. Oh yeah, they also have a lucrative TV contract.

Football would't exist in its present form without TV; baseball loves TV, but doesn't need it to survive.

(As for hockey, I'm told that most hockey teams actually pay for radio coverage....)

KN:   I think attendance is a taste thing.  I've enjoyed attending pro football games.  and a couple of college games.  Fans go "nuts".   Its exciting.   As the years have moved on watching on TV is in many ways infinitely better for parsing through games...but it is difficult to match the excitement at football games in my experience.

Now I do love basketball.  I've enjoyed watching on TV and attending.  I've enjoyed it so much I rarely attend or pay attention to hockey.

BUT  I think for the casual or less detail concerned fan hockey is significantly better to watch in person than basketball.  Its non stop excitement and extraordinarily fast paced.  I caught this early on, especially watching pro hockey and pro basketball games while sitting in the nose bleed seats on the upper deck.  Hockey was fast paced and exciting from so high up.   Basketball was a game of remote lilliputians by contrast.  Aside from rabid "idiots" like myself I'd suggest hockey over basketball in person any day of week.

My preference for baseball are minor league, spring training or college games.   You are intimately closer, by a significant level.  You can get close enough to see the sweat and the details of play.  It enhances the experience imho.   Elsewhere I seconded the suggestion of Steve R on attending the open sessions on the grounds for the US tennis open.  Its for the same reason I enjoy smaller baseball games.  One is so close.  You see astonishing play and details one can't catch from the large stadium.

All in all its astounding how technically great all games are on TV; tremendous camera work, close ups, opportunities now to play back every single detail again and again.   The technology of tv is so tremendous.  Its no wonder stadiums have had to invest so much and add so much additional hoopla to attract fans.

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