It’s not every day that the USA men’s national soccer team plays in Utah. Saturday marked only the fifth time the team had played in the state of Utah, and the first occasion since 2013. So one could understand the excitement of fellow Statesman writer Jaden Johnson and myself upon hearing of the scheduled friendly several months ago and immediately snatching up tickets.
Outside of a stellar Christian Pulisic goal, the match largely fell short of expectations, as both sides predominantly coasted to a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes. The match gave just enough of a taste to want more, but not enough to truly satisfy.
The game did get me thinking, though, about what sporting events I have so far witnessed. Over the past few years, I’ve made it a point to seek out not just sporting events, but sporting experiences. Combine that with getting real lucky, and I’ve been privileged to witness some spectacular sports. Here’s my top eight.
- 2002 Winter Olympics four-man bobsled
There is no need to explain why the Olympics are an incredible sporting event to attend. There is reason to explain why this only ranks eighth on my list. Suffice it to say that 8-year-old me didn’t have the greatest attention span. Present-day me wishes 8-year-old me had known a little better what exactly was going on. Pretty much all I can remember is a bunch of colorful blurs coming around bends at wicked high speeds. If the Olympics return to the U.S., which they eventually will, make it a point to go.
- LSU Tigers at Vanderbilt Commodores, January 2, 2016
In every superhero movie, there’s a scene early on where the hero shows off his impressive powers and skills by annihilating some villain or criminal in spectacular fashion. It doesn’t showcase the hero’s full potential, but it gives a little taste before the final, climactic battle to come at the end of the film. This was Ben Simmons’ version of that scene. Arguably the best game of his admittedly lackluster collegiate career before being selected number one overall in the NBA Draft, Simmons balled out for 36 points and 14 rebounds in a 90-82 victory over Vanderbilt.
- Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz, April 28, 2017
NBA Playoff basketball. No other reasons need to be stated. The only reason it’s this low is because the Clippers won and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
- 2015 Music City Bowl, Louisville vs Texas A&M, December 30, 2015
College football bowl games are fun. They’re even more fun when they have Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in them. This was the final game of Jackson’s freshman year, the season prior to Jackson laying waste to the college football landscape. The signs were there, however, as Jackson cut through a Texas A&M defense with ease, throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. I can’t truthfully say I expected Jackson to become a destroyer of worlds, but I also can’t say I was completely surprised that he did. This game was the reason why.
- San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs, May 24, 2017
Only Fenway Park can match Wrigley Field in terms of historical value. Even then, the Cubs outnumber everyone when it comes to tradition. Singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ during the 7th inning stretch. Singing ‘Go Cubs Go’ after every win. The ivy-covered outfield walls. The Italian sausage with peppers and onions. Taking in a game at Wrigley Field is the epitome of the ‘doing something so I can say that I’ve done it’ mindset.
- Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz, November 30, 2016
You know what’s better than seeing a record-breaking, undefeated Warriors team come down to the final minute on the road against the Jazz? Seeing a record-breaking, undefeated Warriors team come down to the final minute on the road against the Jazz for five bucks. The Warriors came into SLC with an 18-0 record, and came ever so close to not making it to 19-0. A Steph Curry step-back 3 to put the Warriors up in the final minute will forever be etched into my mind.
- Boise State Broncos at Utah State Aggies, October 16, 2015
I have only been on a college football field a handful of times in my life. Once, during the open house for the new renovations at Maverik Stadium. The next time for when I was selected and then rejected for one of those fan competitions during TV timeouts. Another occasion when Vanderbilt left a gate into their endzone unlocked during the offseason. But the best on-field escapade was following USU’s 52-26 tromping over Boise State several years ago. Not only did we beat one of the Mountain West overlords, but we also thought we had gained the inside track to a MW title. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Man, I miss that feeling.
- Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs, December 27, 2015
I have been to only one sports stadium that literally has their own Snapchat filter declaring it to be the loudest stadium in the world. At 142.2 dbA, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City legitimately holds that record and title. Now, imagine being there in the lower bowl when they clinch a playoff berth. The stadium is deafening to say the least. On top of that, this game was one of the few where Johnny Manziel didn’t play like a lifeless corpse. Plus, you’re in Kansas City, where the whole city smells like barbecue. If you’re wanting a once-in-a-lifetime experience out of a sporting event, Arrowhead is one of your best bets to have it.