5 Sporting Events You Must See Live
Sure, sitting on your couch with your favorite snack or even gathering in a pub with a few comrades is a fun way to watch a game. But nothing beats seeing a great sports match live: the energy of the crowd; the cheers of the fans; the blood, sweat, and tears all on display.
In Robert Tuchman’s book The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live: An Insider’s Guide to Creating the Sports Experience of a Lifetime (BenBella Books), he covers some of the very best, from every genre out there. You probably can’t get to all 100, but here are five that are definitely worth the trek.
Koshien Baseball Tournament
Tour de France
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs in Toronto
Dubai World Cup
When: beginning of June
Where: Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
The Details: In Japan, baseball rules—more precisely, high school baseball. And every year, when the best teams in the nation make it to Hanshin Kōshien Stadium, which has a capacity of 55,000, to vie for the coveted title, millions show up. Many of the players will go on to play professionally, and the winners are usually vaulted to celebrity status.
Tuchman’s Take: “Young baseball players from around the country dream of the day when they can play on the ‘sacred’ dirt of Kōshien. Today, playing at Kōshien can make a baseball player down the street into a superstar.”
Where: France and nearby countries
The Details: The agonizingly long 2,200-mile course plays host to some of the best athletes in the world—in fact, the Tour de France is considered the equivalent of running multiple marathons or climbing three Mount Everests. More than 150 riders vie for the yellow jersey over 21 stages, with the winner crowned in Paris on day 23. No tickets are necessary to view the world’s largest cycling race, founded more than 100 years ago.
Tuchman’s Take: “Get up close and personal at the start of the stages. The proximity allows spectators to interact with the athletes prior to the firing of the starting gun.”
When: during the NHL season, October to June
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
The Details: When the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs match up, the game is about more than just hockey—it’s symbolic of the division between the English and French-Canadians in this country. Since 1917 they’ve been dueling it out on the ice, making theirs the oldest rivalry in the National Hockey League.
Tuchman’s Take: “Real hockey fans in Toronto sit in the nosebleed seats in the upper levels. Enthusiasm reigns with fans draped in the Blue and White, as they cheer on their heroes and jeer opponents.”
When: late March
Where: Dubai Racing Club, United Arab Emirates
The Details: A place to see and be seen, the Dubai World Cup is the world’s richest horse race, with jockeys competing for more than $21 million in prize money. See it all from the glass-front Dubai Restaurant, which boasts an elevated view of the track and plenty of TV screens so that you don’t miss any of the action.
Tuchman’s Take: “While the horses vie for the Cup, the attendees compete in the BurJuman Style Stakes. Every year, the competitive spirit among the well-dressed rivals that of the jockeys.”
When: first Sunday in March
The Details: Known as “The Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod takes musher/dog teams through nearly 1,160 miles of rough wilderness over a two-week time span, with temperatures dipping as low as -100°F (-75°C). It’s not for the faint of heart—or those who get cold easily—but it is an amazing display of athleticism on the part of the 12 to 16 dogs per team, and a great celebration of the history of this remote land.
Tuchman’s Take: “While they do race through large metropolitan areas, mushers and their dogs must focus on more treacherous terrain that includes mountain ranges, forests, and frozen rivers. The cold, darkness, and wind-blown snow are unforgiving at best.”