Thursday, June 28, 2007

WE'RE NUMBER.....errrrr 31??

So which would you rather attend, The Kentucky Derby or "any Red Sox-Yankee Game"(15)? An "NFL Conference Championship" game(7) or Kentucky Derby?

Knowing my audience, it is most likely a no-brainer. Being in Louisville on the first Saturday in May probably ranks right up there with, well....."attending a World Cup soccer match"(2). That seems to make sense. The most popular sport in the world and one of the oldest, most storied event in sports history. Sounds about right.

I'll even admit that the "Masters in Augusta"(8) rivals the uniqueness, splendor and party atmosphere that takes over the entire city of Louisville every year during the 1st week of May. But the "Stanley Cup"(20)?

Apologies as I beg to differ - emphatically.

In his recent ESPN column, Jim Caple lists "101 things all sports fans must experience before they die". If you haven't seen it, Mr. Caple places the Kentucky Derby at #31 on his list. At 31st, attending the Derby is apparently more desirable than the "Indy 500" (33) but not as imperative as checking out the "Bayou Classic"(31). If you're not quite sure what that is, here's a link.

Mr. Caple continues to astound by claiming events such as "US Open Tennis"(30) and "US Open Golf"(28) should be attended before you think about heading to Kentucky in early spring - much less planning your hotel accommodations in early December.

The esteemed sports writer who sets the stage with, "The rankings are based on the total experience, including the event itself, the participants, the setting and the atmosphere for the fans," purports that you should be booking your flight to NYC to check out a "game at Rucker Park"(29) - soon.

And, while I have you in a basketball mood, don't forget to score some tickets to the "NBA Finals"(13). This of course from the sport that gets more headlines and excitement from its DRAFT than when it actually holds REAL GAMES.

Granted, just about everything listed from 1-101 is a very cool event that any sports fan would love to attend. However, placing an "NCAA (basketball) subregional"(5) 27 spots higher than the 8th most valuable sports franchise seems a little misguided.

Don't get me wrong, though. Just because a sports franchise is financially successful, does not mean it is a must see or do for a sports fan. I do think however, it does help put the Derby into a little greater perspective.

Is it really necessary to attend a "spring training game"(6) before you check out the hats and blossoming three year olds at one of the grandest racing facilities on the planet?

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to attend my first Kentucky Derby. Though I arrived at Churchill Downs a scant 25 minutes before Derby post time, it was one of the greatest sports moments of my life. As jaded and as loyal as I am to the sport of kings, I could tell that the majority of the other 150,000+ in attendance felt the same way.

Maybe next year I'll skip the Derby and head to the (baseball) "Hall of Fame Induction"(16) in Cooperstown,NY.

Will Pete Rose be there? Maybe I'll ask him which he'd rather attend.

**FULL DISCLOSURE: My salary (at this point in time) is paid by Churchill Downs Inc., but please believe, I would feel the same way and would have MOST DEFINITELY written the piece even if that weren't the case. If there is an editorial criticsm here, it lies in my fanatacism and loyalty for the sport itself. But then again, it is my blog.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah... I'd probably want to box that list before I supported it as a straight ticket.

The Derby is an event anyone would enjoy unless s/he is morally opposed to horse racing.

The NBA finals is something I barely got excited about, and I'm from Cleveland.