25 Unbelievable Sports Experiences to Have Before You Die

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2011

25 Unbelievable Sports Experiences to Have Before You Die

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    Sports was made for bucket lists. There are so many amazing tournaments, events and spectacles to witness, it is a spoil of riches. How many times have you been talking to someone, and they've said, "Man, one of the coolest things ever was when I went to the World Series," or "Oh man, did I ever tell you about the incredible time I saw chess-boxing?"

    Yes, that's right, chess-boxing. It exists, and it is weird.

    On the following slides, you will find my personal bucket list. Surely, you will scoff at some, disagree with the order, and wonder how I could have left out some of the biggest events in sports. You may also see a few things you had never heard of, or see a few sports fantasies that you too would like.

    And that is one of the greatest things about sports—it gives us ample material to argue about.

    So welcome to my bucket list. And let the arguing begin!

25. Play Jai Alai

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    Jai Alai is considered to be the fastest game in the world, with top players hurling the ball at speeds close to 200 miles per hour. And, if you pay attention closely, one of the Dos Equis commercials shows "The Most Interesting Man in the World" playing a game of Jai Alai.

    Which obviously makes it cool.

    For an actual explanation on how to play the game, go here. But it amazes me that those funny little baskets can hurl the ball at such breakneck speeds.

    Thus, I must play this game before I die, even if it kills me.

24. Run out on a Baseball Field During a Game

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    So, I should start by saying two things. First of all, I don't recommend that anybody actually try this, which makes it a peculiar selection for a bucket list, I know. Second, I will probably never do this, given my basic respect for the law.

    That being said, I have always wanted to run out on the field during the game.

    Just imagine running out there, the crowd starts to cheer, the security guards run after you but can't catch you, which makes the crowd cheer louder, you take a lap, bolt toward a surprisingly-unguarded exit, and make your great escape, as the crowd roars in approval.

    How awesome would that be? Sure, you would get tased long before than, but just imagine the rush if you made it...

23. Play Beach Volleyball with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

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    Because I love volleyball.


    Still, I think a nice, relaxed game of volleyball could be fun. They could give me some tips on my form, we could have a barbecue and have a nice time.

    Anything more serious and I would be frightened there would be a Gaylord Focker, spike-in-the-face moment. My face.

22. Go to Wimbledon

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    I'm not a huge tennis fan, but I would like to go to Wimbledon to experience the tradition.

    That is all.

21. Go to the Indianapolis 500

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    I'm not much of a racing fan, but if I could go to only one race, I would go to the "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

    And I don't even like milk.

20. Play Tennis with Maria Sharapova

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    And when I say play tennis, I mean lightly volley back and forth, talk, maybe have a cocktail in between. Somewhere in there I would order lunch, preferably putting it on the Underhills bill.

    And than we would volley a bit more, talk, laugh, just get to know one another.

    Wait a second, buddy—this is starting to sound like a date.

    But it's a sports-themed date, so it's all good.

19. Go to the NBA Finals

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    Somewhere, there is a basketball fan out there screaming, "Number 21? The NBA Finals is only 21 on your list? Are you crazy?"

    Guess what, pal—it's my list, and I'll do what I want.

    It would be great, don't get me wrong, but the NBA is simply my least favorite of the Big Four sports.

18. Go to the Stanley Cup Finals

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    With the possible exception of the NCAA Tournament, no other postseason is quite as exciting as the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    Which actually, in my opinion, drops the Stanley Cup down on my list. Because it is the entirety of the playoffs that are exciting, not the Stanley Cup itself. Like the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup doesn't have a singularity about it that sets it apart from other huge sporting events.

    However, it would be really cool to see the Stanley Cup in person. So it does have that going for it.

17. Watch a Basketball Game with Jack Nicholson

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    Jack Nicholson might be the coolest dude ever. I don't even like the Lakers, but I would love to watch a basketball game with Nicholson and just shoot the breeze. Imagine the stories that guy must have.

    Plus, he always sits in the front row, and I've always wanted to watch a game court side. So this is a two birds, one stone situation.

    And no, "Watch a Basketball Game with Spike Lee" will not be appearing later in the list.

16. Go Bobsledding

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    And no, I don't mean competitively. I would just like to go up to Lake Placid and try going down the course a few times. Preferably with a professional pilot.

    Actually, make that only if a professional is steering.

    I would not, however, like to try luge. It just looks so darn awkward. Not interested. Bobsledding is cooler.

    Plus, I could spend the afternoon quoting Cool Runnings.

    "Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! COOL RUNNINGS!"

15. Go to the Rose Bowl

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    The Grandaddy of Them All. The Tournament of Roses Parade. The tradition of the Rose Bowl is really cool.

    But if they had a playoff, I'd prefer that.

14. BCS National Championship

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    I love college football, and this is the ultimate game to see, mainly because it is the only bowl game that actually means something.

    But I repeat, I would prefer a playoff.

13. Sit in a NASCAR During a Race

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    Or during a trial run around an empty track, I don't care. I just think it would be incredible to feel the rush of going 170 miles per hour.

    Obviously, I wouldn't want to drive the thing. I'll be the high speed version of Miss Daisy, thank you very much. Well, without all of the racial undertones.

12. See a March Madness Buzzer-Beater

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    Who wouldn't want to see one of the legendary NCAA Tournament buzzer-beaters live? Truthfully, this is something that is totally out of my hands, and is as much a fantasy as it is bucket list material.

    So really, the entry on the bucket list is "Go to an NCAA Tournament Game." It doesn't even have to be the Final Four, since it rarely lives up to the other rounds.

    But if I'm being totally honest, I want to see a buzzer-beater. I want to get chills. I want Gus Johnson's voice rattling around in my head (because at least the entire lower level must be able to hear his calls).

11. Witness a Perfect Game

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    This is another fantasy, since it is totally out of my control. But there is probably no other achievement in sports I would rather witness live.

    Which reminds me—thank you God for Roy Halladay. Thank you.

10. Climb Mount Everest

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    Whoa, you are saying, what does this have to do with sports? And why would you want to do this?

    Answer number one: It is one of the most physically grueling things you can do, and requires incredible training. 216 people have died trying. Which brings me to...

    Answer number two: I don't think I actually want to climb all the way up. There are a ton of other peaks you can climb which are less deadly, and offer pretty incredible views. So I would probably do that.

    I just think it would be amazing to see the world's largest mountain. And even if you don't make it all the way up to Everest, you will still be doing some pretty grueling hiking, climbing, and in my case, whining. That qualifies it as sporty in my book.

9. Advance Past the First Stage of Ninja Warrior

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    I love Ninja Warrior. I love the spectacle, the funny costumes some of the contestants wear, the incredible announcer.

    But every time I watch, I ask myself: Could I pass the first course if I really trained for it?

    Because right now, there is no way I would pass.

    So while simply competing in the course would be awesome, passing that first stage is definitely bucket list material.

8. Sing "Take Me out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field

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    Yeah, yeah, I'm not a celebrity, blah blah blah. Why wouldn't they invite me to sing this? How excited would you be if you were in the stands and heard them introduce "Bleacher Report writer Timothy Rapp" to sing?


    Hey, this is another fantasy selection. And it is one of my favorite baseball traditions in a sport rife with tradition, so let a guy dream.

7. Throw out a First Pitch

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    http://www.ralphsteadman.com/KYDerby.aspJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Another in a long line of baseball traditions I love. What could be cooler than standing in front of a packed house and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch?

    Well, except if you bounce the pitch to the plate. That, quite frankly, is a man violation. But if you throw a strike?


6. Go to the Kentucky Derby

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    And when I say go to the Kentucky Derby, I mean go to the Kentucky Derby Hunter S. Thompson style.

    (Click on that link and read the story. It is one of the best pieces of sports journalism there is, even if it is barely about the race itself. Trust me.)

    Mint julep after mint julep. Revelry on the infield. Betting too much. Stealing passes to get into the clubhouse.

    You cannot deny the spectacle of sport. And where is that spectacle more fun than at the Kentucky Derby?

5. Play Stickball with Willie Mays

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    Willie Mays is my favorite athlete who played before my time, which is probably a strange thing to say, but I am certain that I would have loved watching him play.

    With that in mind, Mays is legendary for playing stickball with Harlem children during his first two years with the New York Giants.

    So cool. I can think of little else that would be more fun on a summer afternoon than playing stickball with Mays, talking about baseball and hearing old stories. A baseball fan's dream afternoon, if you ask me.

4. Run with the Bulls

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    There is no good reason why I should want to do this. For one, it is incredibly dangerous. Also, I think the bullfighting that follows the running of the bulls is a cruel tradition, and I occasionally find myself cheering on the bull.

    And yet, I am morbidly fascinated by the entire thing, and very much want to run with the bulls.

    Had I never read The Sun Also Rises and learned of the wild Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, maybe I wouldn't want to commit suicide via bull. But after reading that book, I was hooked (pun intended).

    And yes, I consider this a sporting activity, beyond that even. It is track and field, but instead of sprinting to win, you sprint to live.

3. Go to the World Series

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    Preferably, if the Phillies are playing. But the Fall Classic is one of America's great traditions, and one of sports' most exciting time. It evokes legendary tales of Kirk Gibson, Reggie Jackson, Kirby Puckett.

    It also reminds us of some of incredibly painful moments. Bill Buckner. Mitch Williams. Even Mariano Rivera has been defeated by the moment.

    Simply put, there is nothing quite like the Fall Classic.

2. Go to the Super Bowl

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    That said, there is no spectacle in American sports quite like the Super Bowl.

    Pregame and Halftime shows that rival the scope of any concert you'll ever see. Super Bowl parties hosted by celebrities.

    America has basically created a national holiday that is framed around a sporting event. That's big.

    And recently, the game itself has been really exciting, with some fantastic finishes. It's hard to deny how cool the Super Bowl is.

1. Go to the World Cup Final

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    If the Super Bowl is America's greatest spectacle, than the World Cup is the same for the world. I am not an avid soccer fan, but I absolutely love the World Cup. Unlike the Olympics, which is diluted by multiple events and participants, the World Cup is one team, one country.

    The stakes are ridiculous. For one, the tournament comes once every four years, so it is highly anticipated. World Cup losses have literally cost players their lives. The entire world is watching as 32 nations vie for international bragging rights.

    I would love to hang out for the entire tournament, if only to witness the spectacle. But if I had to choose only one game, I would pick the Final.

    And of any sporting event, there is none I would rather experience than the World Cup.