Sports Nightmares: The Anti-Bucket List

Everyone has a bucket list.  You know, that list of stuff you want to do before your time is up.  For sports fans, the bucket list consists of far-fetched wishes like visiting every major league baseball stadium, attending all four tennis grand slams, or buying tickets to game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.  The perfect sports getaway is a possibility that exists in our dreams but usually not in our bank accounts.  You’ll often hear fans say “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…?”  They speak as if there’s some sort of magical sports genie who will one day grant all their wishes to see the biggest games and meet the biggest stars.

What isn’t talked about, are sports nightmares.  That’s right; those are the events you would never want to see.  They are the games you would consider a form of pure torture to have to sit through.  Maybe the sports genie turns out to be evil and you are subjected to some of the worst moments a fan could ever experience.  You would rather spend an entire day at the mall shopping with your wife, than be granted free tickets to any of these events.  You would volunteer to attend a wedding on a college football Saturday before you’d volunteer to watch even a minute of these competitions.

So here they are, ten of the most painful, and mind-numbingly brutal events a sports fan could ever be forced to witness.

Turn in your man card...now. (courtesy news.xinhuanet.com)

1.      Men’s Figure Skating

I know these fellas can do some amazing tricks on ice, but as a dude, it’s never okay to put on spandex and glitter and be happy about it.  Start competing in regular clothes and maybe you’ll earn a shred of my respect, although even a pair of khakis or a designer suit can’t make up for all the prancing and jazz hands.   It’s embarrassing to watch a grown man wearing six pounds of makeup and a flesh colored leotard.  I don’t know how people watch this without squirming at the utter absurdity of the whole sport.  The only thing more humiliating than participating in men’s figure skating is admitting that you watch men’s figure skating.   This has to be the reason why people first started putting two TV’s in their home.

2. Cheerleading Competition

I can’t believe these are actually televised, but I cringe every time I click through the channels and stumble upon it.  I’m all for cheerleaders on the sidelines at college and pro games.  They don’t serve any real purpose, but for the most part, they’re nice to look at.  However, and I’m sorry to burst your bubble of spirit, cheerleading is not a sport.  It’s athletic I guess, but it’s not a sport.  Cheerleaders are meant to support the guys who are actually playing the sport.  When did spelling out words while clapping and yelling become worthy of air time?  The fake smiling, the bows in the ponytails, and the high pitched squealing all just seems too manufactured and over-the-top.  If my precious and adorable future daughter wants to be a cheerleader, I’ll be supportive.  I’ll even attend her competitions because I like to think I’ll be a halfway decent father.  But I can promise you I’ll be checking my watch every six seconds and avoiding anyone who might know the score of the game in that actual sport I’m recording at home.  Afterward, I’ll hug my daughter, and say, “great job sweetheart, daddy is so proud of you!”  Then I’ll hand her a fishing pole and say, “Doesn’t this look like more fun than those pom-poms?”

3. Cricket

My brain is already packed full of useless sports knowledge.  There’s just not enough room up there for me to try to learn an entirely new sport.  I’ve seen plenty of cricket highlights (I think they were highlights) on TV, but I still have no clue what’s going on.  All I know is that some guy runs really fast, hurls a ball at a guy with a canoe paddle, and then India and Pakistan go to war over it.  Maybe it would broaden my horizons of culture, but it looks boring and it can take an eternity.  The longest cricket match ever played took 43 hours and 16 minutes and ended in a draw.  A draw?!?!  You actually expect me to invest two days of my life cheering for something with no outcome?  And you thought baseball was dull.

Baseball? Hockey? Croquet? What is this? (courtesy cricketworld.com)
It's just plain wrong. (courtesy wikipedia.com)

4. A Tampa Bay Rays Home Game

The Rays play at Tropicana Field, better known as the Trop.  The very existence of the building is sacrilege.  A major league baseball team in south-central Florida plays its games indoors on synthetic turf.  Read that again, and let it sink in.  I’m in Tampa where there’s perpetual sunshine, beautiful beaches, and girls in bikinis.  You’re telling me I have to watch my baseball team inside?  I’m in Tampa and I can’t see any palm trees, smell any grass, or hear the ocean?  This a cruel joke right?  Can anyone explain this to me? The stadium was completed in 1990, but looks like a 1970’s era relic.  It’s a circle of drab concrete that resembles a bunion on the foot of civilization.  The Trop might be the single worst sporting venue in the country.  I pity the loyal Rays fans that have to watch their team play ball in a stark, gray, warehouse.

5. A tennis match between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova

Sure these are two of the best female tennis players to ever step on a court.  Sure they can crush the ball, but they will also crush your eardrums.  Williams and Sharapova are exhibits “A” and “B” of the shrieking epidemic that plagues women’s tennis.  Every time a ball is struck, high-pitched grunts are released for no reason at all.  Maybe it’s a habit, but it’s completely unnecessary and it ruins the viewing experience.  Close your eyes and a tennis match suddenly sounds like two barnyard animals caught in a barbed wire fence.  Sharapova’s screams have been measured at 110 decibels.  That’s as loud as a chainsaw, or a rock concert.  If you want to enjoy watching world-class tennis, better get your earplugs ready.

6. Any Sporting Event in Cleveland

The Cavs are terrible, the Indians are atrocious, and the Browns are…well, the Browns.  Not only are the teams bad, the city isn’t exactly the most attractive place to visit.  Cleveland is renowned for its bleakness.  Every picture I see of Cleveland is gray, damp, and cold.  It’s like watching sports in Eastern Europe.  I can’t imagine being a Cleveland sports fan.  Their torture is unlike any other fan suffering.  It’s been 46 years since Cleveland had a championship.  It’s been 47 years for the fans in San Diego, but how much are people living in San Diego really suffering?  Even when Cleveland teams aren’t losing they’re being punished by plagues.  Literally.  Hordes of flies descended on Jacobs Field in 2007 in what was either a sign of the apocalypse or simply further proof that Cleveland is cursed.

7. Synchronized Swimming

Enough said.

Soccer or a cage match? (courtesy espn.com)

8.      A Soccer Game at Azteca Stadium In Mexico City

I don’t care how big of a soccer fan you are, this has misery and possible death written all over it.  Imagine yourself in the middle of 100,000 rabid Mexican soccer fans.  That alone is somewhat frightening.  Now consider that Azteca Stadium sits at 7,000 feet above sea level in one of the most polluted cities in the entire world.  If you don’t get beaten or trampled to death by hooligans, there’s a good chance you’ll develop some sort of lung disease or pass out from lack of oxygen.  Just ask former U.S. Soccer player Eric Wynalda.  He coughed up black blood after a game at Azteca.  Opposing players have to walk through a concrete tunnel to the field where they are routinely cursed at and spit on by the crowd.  It’s like the Black Hole in Oakland, only way more intimidating.  A chain link fence with barbed wire on top surrounds the field as if the spectators are inmates trying to escape.  It feels less like soccer and more like a death match between the fans and whoever is unfortunate enough to be playing Mexico.  Save some money, your lungs, and your life by avoiding this venue.

9. Any WNBA Game

I’m not anti-women’s sports.  I’ll sit through some women’s college basketball and I’ll tune in for some women’s tennis from time to time.  But enough already with the WNBA.  How does this league continue to exist?  Year after year, teams fold and re-locate to different cities only to see attendance drop once again.  The WNBA product has failed in major markets across the country and it’s painful to admit that Tulsa even has a WNBA franchise.  Average attendance for the league hovers below 7,000 fans per game and the BOK Center in Tulsa is a ghost town when the Shock plays at home.  There wouldn’t even be a league if the NBA simply stopped paying for it.  I’m sure there are a lot of great players in the WNBA, and I’m sorry to put them out of a job.  But the truth is, TV ratings are in the tank, attendance is even lower, and there is absolutely no buzz for women’s professional basketball anywhere in America.  I’d rather watch darts, or bowling, or curling, or billiards, or yacht racing.  Nice try WNBA, now it’s time to go away.

To add insult to injury, Bartman didn't even make the catch. (courtesy blog.prorumors.com)

10.  Being Steve Bartman

Seven and a half years later, the name Bartman hasn’t disappeared from our sports memory.  It was 2003 when the nerdy guy with the headphones disrupted a possible catch by outfielder Moises Alou.  Of course, the Cubs lost that playoff series to the Marlins and haven’t won anything since.  I don’t know how Bartman survived that night, much less the last seven years.  Put yourself in his shoes.  All you’re trying to do is catch a foul ball like any one of us would do at a baseball game.  Because of that single act, you can never show your face at Wrigley again.  Your name is cursed throughout the city of Chicago.  Your family disowns you and you’re abandoned by all your friends.  You have to quit your job, change your name, and move halfway across the county all because you reached for a foul ball.  I don’t know where Bartman is today or what he’s doing.  I hope he has a family and a great life and can laugh about that fateful day at Wrigley.  Frankly, I’d be shocked if he didn’t drink himself into a coma and consider suicide, but I’m praying he went the other way.  I don’t know if it gets much worse than to be hated by the team and the city you love so much.

Bartman believes in the evil sports genie, you should be on the lookout too.

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One thought on “Sports Nightmares: The Anti-Bucket List”

  1. I agree about cheer-leading. It’s athletic but it’s not a sport. It’s closer in my mind to an art, like dancing. Gymnastics is a sport…..well, most of it. That “rhythmic dancing” stuff is definitely not, but maybe the uneven bars….okay, no it’s just athletic not a sport. Cheering isn’t easy, but that doesn’t make it a sport. Calculus isn’t easy but it’s also not a sport.

    I also loathe Mr. Bartman. I’m a Cubs fan though, so I have a bias.

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