For sports lovers, choosing a favorite event can be nearly impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to. You can be a great fan of multiple sports and you needn’t even be good at any.
At the highest levels, sporting championships have transcended competition to become multifaceted, major events that hundreds of thousands want to experience. If you’re enthralled by the glitz and glamour of these incredible spectacles, here are some that should be on your bucket list.
Before the invention of cars and planes, before television or radio even existed to broadcast it, the Kentucky Derby was the sporting event that captured America’s attention. Horses and jockeys were the superstar athletes of the time.
Started in 1873, the derby is the longest continually held sporting event in America and is considered one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. It is often called “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” referring to the typical amount of time it takes to run the race. Yet, despite the race’s short length, Derby fans also come for a weekend full of parties and pageantry.
Despite the horsemanship and history, 2018 Derby attendees will want to plan on attending some iconic events such as the Taste of Derby, Fillies and Lillies Party and of course, the Winner’s Party on May 5.
The day of the Super Bowl is now considered by some as an unofficial American national holiday. It is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, trailing only Thanksgiving Day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the Super Bowl is regularly the most-watched U.S. television broadcast each year. The seven highest viewed broadcasts in U.S. television history are Super Bowls, including, Super Bowl XLIX. It claims the overall top spot with 114.4 million viewers
SuperBowl Lll will be hosted in Minnesota in 2018 and is expected to ‘engulf the Twin Cities’ with the flurry of events and activities. The event has grown from a one-day stadium event to a 10-day extravaganza with parties hosted by Rolling Stone, ESPN, Maxim and more.
Previous halftime shows have included a wide array of performers such as Britney Spears, ColdPlay, Beyonce and Aerosmith. This year’s entertainment has not been announced but some of the artists in the mix include Adele, Justin Beiber, Luke Bryan and Drake.
Attending is even more exciting than watching on TV, but you’d better be prepared to pay up. Since 2015, the average annual ticket cost to attend the big game has ranged from $4,000 up to $6,923, according to an article by Will Brinson for cbssports.com or you could enter to win the Corona Bucket List Promotion and win tickets here.
U.S. Open Golf Tournament
Another storied event that began in the 19th Century, the U.S. Open was an afterthought to the 1895 U.S. Amateur, reports worldgolf.com. The second U.S. Open was played in 1896 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y. It returns there for the 2018 event.
For true golf fans, Shinnecock Hills holds special meaning. It was one of five founding clubs that made up the United States Golf Association and is ranked as the fourth greatest golf course by Golf Digest.
Because this is a true open event, you can become a participant rather than just a spectator. It is open to any professional or amateur with a USGA Handicap Index of 1.4 or less. You can claim one of the 156 slots by winning a sectional qualifying round. If participating is out of the equation, you can always enter to win a trip to the 2018 U.S. Open and absorb the ambiance like a true Pro.
Although the first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was in 1909, the Indy 500 didn’t begin until two years later. The “greatest spectacle in racing” drew more than 80,000 for its first race. They paid $1 each for the privilege of sitting in the grandstands, according to caranddriver.com.
If you attend, you won’t be lonely. With more than 250,000 permanent seats, this is one of the world’s largest seating venues. Race-day crowds are usually about 400,000.
For the first 500, the track was paved with 3.2 million paving bricks, each weighing 9.5 pounds, according to indianapolismotorspeedway.com. By 1938, the entire track was paved with asphalt except for the middle portion of the front straightaway. That section remained brick until October 1961. A 36-inch strip of the original bricks at the start/finish line was left uncovered and it remains brick today.
Race fans will want to include events like taking a track lap in an Official Pace Car and Kissing the Bricks, where you’ll get to kiss the famed Yard of Bricks, started by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett after his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996.
Parties and concerts will be going strong all weekend. Tickets to the 2018 Coor’s Light SnakePit will include artists like Zedd, Marshmello, RL Grimes and more.
The Final Four
Although the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament has existed since 1939, the first printed reference to the final four was a mere passing reference by Ed Chay, a sportswriter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer on page 5 of the 1975 Official Collegiate Basketball Guide, according to Cleveland.com. It became a capitalized phrase in the 1978 guide.
The event is big business for host cities. In 2017, it generated $324 million in economic impact for the Phoenix area, according to a study by Arizona State University. Of course, fans love it. More than 400,000 participated in Final Four festivities in downtown Phoenix and more than 150,000 people attended the semifinal and championship games. It was the second-largest crowd in Final Four history and another 23 million watched on television.
The 2018 Final Four is scheduled to be hosted in San Antonio, Texas.
The finish of the first Daytona 500 in 1959 was so close it took NASCAR three days to determine who won the race. Johnny Beauchamp was declared the winner, but that decision was overturned after the review and Lee Petty was given the title.
Called the “great American race,” Richard Petty has the record for the most Daytona 500 victories with seven, while Bobby Allison won the race when he was 50 to claim the crown of oldest victor. Danica Patrick was the first female driver to earn the pole position in the 2013 race. She finished eighth.
The Daytona 500 should certainly be on every race fan’s sports bucket list and maybe even more so this year. The official website states “Hurricane Irma has left a significant impact on the community and Daytona International Speedway is working with local, regional and state officials to assist with recovery efforts. Daytona International Speedway is once again serving as a staging site for Florida Power & Light crews who are working on restoring power in the area.”
U.S. Open Tennis Tournament
Although the tournament began in 1881, it was 1978 before the event moved to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. That was also when the tournament switched to hard courts. Prior to that surfaces were clay and grass.
In 2016, total prize money awarded to players exceeded $46 million, according to usopen.org. This year the tournament is Aug. 28-Sept. 10 and promises to be another stellar, star-studded year.
The U.K. Telegraph reports “Where Wimbledon is epitomized by the tranquility of lush lawns and strawberries and cream, the US Open is loud and brash and wonderfully American.”
And that’s why sports fans love it.
So, what’s on your Ultimate Sports Bucket List? Enter to win a trip to your sports dream destination here.