08 July 2007

Top 10 Sports Moments

Following up from Jim Caple's article from last week (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=caple/070625), I though it would be interesting if I had my own personal list of top sporting events.

Clearly, I don't work for ESPN - why I have no idea, they could clearly use someone with my keen sense of wit and my sporting acumen...right! Since I don't work for the world wide leader in sports, I'm going to stick to a list of top 10 sporting events. And rather than simply listing the best sporting events to watch on TV, this list will contain strictly sporting events that I have attended in person. Some are well known, others are personal, but all have been memorable. Without further ado, let's get it on:

#10 - Toronto Blue Jays game in June 2004.

This was a home game at the Skydome. I was in Toronto for work and went with a few co-workers to a game. I don't actually remember who they played against. Strange that number 10 on the list should involve a game in which I don't remember the teams. It either makes me the world's lamest sports fan, or there must have been another reason why this one was memorable. In this case, it was a streaker.

The great thing about baseball games is that anything can happen. Although this is true for any sport, it bears fruit much more often in the case of baseball. A player can hit 4 home runs, a pitcher can throw a no-hitter, as a fan you can take home a souvenir ball. In this case, a naked dude - he actually had shoes on - jumped from the outfield seats down to the wall. This is a fall of about 15 feet. He nearly landed spread-eagled on the wall. In the process, I'm pretty sure that he broke his ankle. He got up and was immediately limp - in his ankle I mean of course. He tried running but got nowhere before the security guard tackled him. It was awesome.

#9 - Montreal Canadiens home game at the Forum, 1993
For my 16th birthday, my parents brought me to the Forum for a Canadiens game. Montreal was playing against the L.A. Kings. Pretty crappy team right. Wrong! Remember that Wayne Gretzky was playing for the Kings at this time. Although our seats were somewhere in the mesosphere, and to go to the bathroom meant to wait in line for 45 minutes behind a bunch of drunken Quebecers who were smoking, I'll always remember that game.

#8 - Cirque du Soleil, Quidam

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Ok, so this is not really a sporting event right? Again, WRONG! If sports are a show of human phsyical ability, then Cirque du Soleil has to qualify. This show was phenomenal. I don't know how long you have to do yoga for, but it is safe to say that these performers do not have bones. The shear display of human strength and agility will definitely having you wondering "how do I put my leg there without going to the hospital?"

#7 - Cornell University Men's hockey game

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In my 5 years at Cornell, I probably went to 20 hockey games. Every single one was memorable. First of all, the Cornell men's hockey team has something like an .800 winning percentage at home. Right away, a win for the home team makes the game memorable. Isn't that what the Cubs have taught us with Take me out to the Ballgame?

Next, the fans are a group of rabid ravenous ivy league geeks, freed from the demands of a rigorous study schedule, they come prepared with the world's most acerbic cheers. Scathing in their delivery, vituperative in their content, these cheers will make opponents wish their were on the bus back home - actually one of the more innocuous chants instructs them to warm up the bus. Whether it is chanting "safety school" to Harvard or telling the referee to go fornicate with a sheep, you will leave with a hoarse voice and a memorable experience that will redefine your notion of rowdy and loyal crowd.

#6 - FIFA Under 20 Men's Soccer World Cup 2007


Although still underway, this tournament has been a spectacular success for Canada so far. Well at least in the stands. On the field is another story. The beautiful game has been both beautiful and ugly, but has always been memorable. Watching games in Ottawa, the first set of matches were filled with no goals and a bunch of pansy dives. I have often thought that if I were the coach of these kids, anyone who dives would be made to be ridiculed by having to wear a skirt on the field. Perhaps I am a throwback who likes hustle and toughness, but you can only take some many dives.

The next series of games were phenomenal. I have seen both Argentina and Brazil play, and have witnessed the flare and beauty that can be soccer. Certainly, even in the scoreless draws, the players mastery of the ball and their ability to control their bodies at top speeds is wonderful to watch. Say what you will about soccer, but at the highest levels, the games are nothing if not extremely exciting.

#5 - Penn Relays

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Although track & field is the sport I coach, many people would be hard pressed to top the Penn Relays in terms of excitement for any sport. Penn Relays brings the excitement to the personal level. World record holders and intramural sports take place on the same track at the same time. A stadium packed to the brim with tens of thousands of people cheer you on, or holler down as someone gets passed down the straightaway. This is USA vs. Jamaica in the boys high school relays. This is over 100 collegiate relays teams. This is being on the track minutes after the collegiate national record is broken in the 4 x mile. This is the strangeness of the shuttle hurdle relay or the familiarity of the 4x100m relays. This is the birth of American collegiate track & field. This is sports at its best.

#4 - Little league World Series 2002


Nowhere is sports are emotions as raw as when you were 12 years old. Nowhere in life are tears more palpable than on the defected face of a 250 pound, 6 foot child who has experience defeat for the first time in his young career. The little league world series in Williamsport, PA combines the great American past time with the passion of parents, kids, and families watching back home on ABC. Many will never go on to the majors. But at such a young age, dreams and hopes are flourishing. Puberty has gifted some with the body of an 18 year old, but behind their fragile psyche rests the mind of a 12 year old still. And herein lies the drama. The passion. The love of the game.

#3 - The Rose Bowl 2007

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You have seen the parade on New Year's. You have heard your mother say "what lovely flowers." But have you smelled the air in Passedena or felt the electricity in the crowd? The Rose Bowl is much more than a football game. Like most memorable sporting events, the tradition of the game sets the mood for the game. It heightens your senses. The game itself may be pedantic - as this one was - or your team may not win - Michigan certainly did not such thing in this game. But the feeling of attending a game of such magnitude in person is what will stick with you for the rest of your life.

#2 - Indoor Heptagonal Championships


Ingredients for an exciting sporting event:
  • Mix together a bunch of teams with lots of reputation and tradition on the line
  • Have the officials where tuxedos
  • Pit the competitors in foot races, jumping events, and throwing disciplines
  • Enclose all these athletes in a cavernous facility, with the number of people exceeding the fire code limit
  • Put very little to no seating in the complex so that athletes need to hug the rails of the track to cheer on their teammates.
Although the indoor Heps are clearly a personal moment for myself, I would think the same would be true to all athletes who have ever dedicated a vast amount of their time to training towards a goal. In the moment where you step on the field, or the track, or the rink, you are testing the very essence of what it has meant to prepare for this event. All the anguish, the injuries, the hard work will now be tested. You have agreed to test your mettle with the tenacity of others. Success if anything but assured. Failure likely. The raw emotions are palpable. You wait for the gun to go off. It has all come down to this.

#1 - WWF wrestling


You didn't think I was serious did you?

Get out there and enjoy sports!!!


Anonymous said...


This is perhaps your best entry to date!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jo!

Also, I perhaps omitted The Calgary Stampede, it deserves mention. The crowds are fun, the events are exciting and the cowboys are manly studs!

Anonymous said...

Here's a sporting event you may want to consider for next summer -- I think it would definitely make the list!


Anonymous said...

Great post Rich - I would like to see an "Honourable Mentions" section from you, since I know there has been TONS more. Like you said, the Calgary Stampede must have been awesome to see. I was also expecting to see Boston 2005 on there. And what about our very OWN little league experiences? You're inspired me to come up with my very own top 10... will keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

Yikes... I meant Boston 2004 - not 2005.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.