I am a sports fan through and through. Beyond the normal American sports of baseball, basketball and football, I tend to like other sports with a more global appeal. The list below includes some homegrown sports, but I have also been blessed to go outside of the United States and see sports in other countries. In recounting this list I realized what great experiences I have had and it makes me look forward to the next opportunity see see something new and even more exciting (first thoughts include: Cricket in India, Formula 1 in Europe, and either Rugby or Australian Rules Football in Australia).
Now for the list (in order of enjoyment and the breadth of the experience)
- VLN 6 hour Enduro at The Ring – Nurburgring – Nurburg, Germany – August 26, 2006; Guest of Hermann Tilke — My business partner, Steve Patti, and I got to travel over to Aachen, Germany to meet with Hermann Tilke and his firm to discuss a unique business concept in Central Texas. As the meeting was ending he invited us to be his personal guests at the VLN 6 hour Enduro taking place that weekend at The Ring. The cars were awesome. The racing celebrities were mixing with the people. The experience was unforgettable. My new love for auto racing was born.
- Arsenal v. Man City – Emirates Stadium – London, England – April 4, 2009; — Being in London for the 2009 Linkshare Symposium, my business associate, Alan Rapoport, and I wanted to do something memorable. I looked on Craigslist for some football tickets for any club playing in the city that weekend. A nice listing from Peter Egbe turned up, I rang him and we were confirmed to meet him at the stadium. The tickets were expensive relative to American sports. However, once inside the stadium we were treated to the ultimate English football experience. Not only were the seats spectacular, but we were sitting in the section that originates the yells, chants, and singing. So, we were thoroughly immersed in the experience that day.
- 1986 Texas-OU Game – Dallas, TX — Brian Bosworth was arguably the best linebacker in college football. The Texas Longhorns were at the tail end of the Fred Akers era. Akers was already getting the “Fire Fred” attention so Bosworth wrote “Fred” and “Akers” on the tape on his shoes. He wanted Fred to stay so that OU could continue to dominate Texas. I watched Boz through binoculars most of the game. I have never seen a more intense player in college football.
- 2009 Bristol Fall NASCAR Race – Bristol, TN — My dad and I flew into Knoxville, TN for my first opportunity to see a NASCAR race live. It was great having my dad there (he grew up in Tennessee) and we were treated to a great experience because my company had a box at the race. Being the “stadium racing” event that it was, it was not short on action. As a part of being in the box, we got to draw a driver at random with a little prize money attached if the driver placed 1st, 3rd, or 5th. I drew Kyle Busch – my least favorite driver. He ended up winning and the cost of the trip was covered!!
- June 30, 1998 – Chicago Cubs v. Arizona Diamondbacks – Sammy Sosa hits 20th HR in June (still a record for any month in baseball history) – On a spur of the moment, with two business colleagues in tow, we decided to take the train down Wrigley from the client with which we were working. We bought a few scalped tickets (and they were amazingly cheap in the upper deck). Sitting and looking straight down the first base line we watched Sosa hit a monster shot over the right field wall. While not high (it never got higher than we were sitting), it was still rising when it got over the wall and onto the street.
- Winnipeg Jets v. Minnesota Wild – December 13, 2011 – Winnipeg, Canada — Again on a business trip, my colleague and I were hopeful to get to see a Winnipeg Jets game. I have always been a hockey fan, but an opportunity to see hockey in Canada would be truly spectacular. The game was more than sold-out (street tickets were going for $400). With the return of the Jets to Canada after a long absence, the fans were the most supportive group I have ever seen for hockey. Luckily the company we were visiting was able to get us two tickets (and provided an authentic Jets sweater) and we got to see the Jets beat the Wild. I am now a Jets fan and Canadian hockey is the best hockey on earth.
- 1986 Dallas Cowboys v. Seattle Seahawks – Irving, TX – November 27, 1986 — Having moved away from Seattle in 1983 I had missed seeing the Seattle Seahawks play in person. My parents decided to surprise us with a trip up to Dallas to stay at the Westin Galleria and then go to the game on Thanksgiving. It was COLD, but the game was fun (especially with the Seahawks winning).
- 1994 World Cup Soccer – Germany v South Korea – June 27, 1994 — My good friend Robert Graham scored a pair of tickets to each of the three Group C & D games in Dallas for the 1994 World Cup. Being a huge Germany fan he asked me if I would like to attend so I could root for my team. It was really hot and the Germany fans were having a blast. We got into the singing and chants and enjoyed seeing Germany win. The day prior we got to go see the German team practice at SMU. The discipline and regimen was a sight to behold – and steadfastly German.
- Seattle Mariners v. Toronto Blue Jays – Seattle, WA – July 1, 1983 – This was the last game I ever got to see in the Kingdome before moving south to Texas. Seeing these two 1977 expansion teams play one another was not particularly memorable. What was memorable was before the game when I was standing in the center field bleachers, holding up my glove, and watching Spike Owen throw me (and I caught) and BP ball from second base. I still have that ball today (and find it ironic that Spike Owen played for UT and I was moving to Austin).
- 1996 Olympic Soccer – USA v. Argentina – July 20, 1996 – My best friend from college, Rich Fletcher, was living in Birmingham, Alabama and was offered a pair of tickets to an Olympic soccer game. Knowing I was the biggest soccer fan he knew, I was invited to attend with him. It was not as good as World Cup soccer, and the US was not playing well in the game, but the experience was still wonderful (and patriotic).