What’s a Guy to Do?

With the official beginning of spring yesterday, complete with a Mariners victory, I got to thinking. About two things actually. One part of me wondered how I am going to do without baseball (or all the other major american sports to honest) for an entire year. I mean, a year of occasionally reading internet reports in the leftover internet cafe time we have will not satisfy my need for sports coverage. Argue if you want about the importance of such things, but they’re definitely a big part of my everyday routine. We have ESPN on as often as all our other TV channels combined. It’s ritualistic to watch football on fall Sundays, watch baseball late into the evening (Theresa likes it because it puts her to sleep), participate in the national phenomenon that is March Madness. Shoot, I’ve already missed that this year. I hate February solely because it is the single most boring sports month there is (it doesn’t help that it’s cold and miserable too). In fact, having not thought about it before, doing without my sports be one of the bigger changes I’ll have to deal with.

The other half of me started to think of ways to cope with this sports void. So I began thinking of all the sports and events I could attend while we were traveling. Here’s my top five:

1. Soccer match in South America. The bigger the better. Their reputation definitely puts my fanaticism to shame. Brazil – Argentina maybe? That might be a little too much. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll find plenty of opportunities to see teams the locals are nuts about, seeing how that’s just about everyone everywhere.

2. Winter League baseball in Venezuela. Hey, a man’s gonna get his baseball fix somewhere. And as a fan of minor league and college baseball, I love the purity of the sport when it’s not for the money but everyone is still ridiculously talented.

3. Cricket match in India. I gotta see what this sport is cracked up to be. I’ve never understood the thing, maybe because it’s like baseball but completely different with completely crazy names for everything. But over 250 million Indians can’t be wrong, can they? And I’m sure they’d say baseball is cricket’s messed up brother. I think I’ll try to attend a single day match, instead of one of these five day marathon test matches.

4. Rugby match in South Africa. Another sport in its homeland (though I’m sure my British and Australian friends would disagree). I wonder if Theresa will go to any of these at all with me? Maybe I’ll just make friends with the hooligans at the matches instead. I hear they’re great.

5. Elephant polo in Thailand/India. How could this not be totally awesome? My only concern, though, is how do you watch without the threat of trampling? As an interesting side note, in my research, I learned that DC has its own elephant polo team. Fascinated by the idea of many elephants stampeding across the National Mall hitting a small ball (and inquisitive about where they get said elephants … the zoo?), I went to sign up, only to be heartily disappointed upon reading this:

“At the very least, you must be able to travel as elephant polo is only played where elephants are to be found, i.e. Asia.”

Nuts! My hilarious visions thwarted! But, it does leave open the possibility of getting to play a game of elephant polo while we are on the road. And that is surely an opportunity I would have to take.

So sports fans, what sporting events have you guys seen and loved/loathed in other countries? Any recommendations of specific events coming up in 2008/2009? What would you imagine would be a great event to attend? Help a guy get his fix!

8 Replies to “What’s a Guy to Do?”

  1. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “Yes!” Yes as in “over 250 million Indians” can be wrong. I think you’ll be fine with the local games you come across. I’d definitely check out soccer in South America, but make sure you know what you’re getting into. Theres probably a greater chance of dying at a soccer match that erupts into a riot than just about anything else you’ll be doing. There’ll be another Super Bowl, March Madness, World Series, etc. when you return so just hope its not the Seahawks, Rice, or Mariners and you’ll be fine.

  2. I stumbled across your site from somewhere—can’t remember where, but I love reading your updates and getting inspired for future trips. My husband and I did a 6-week trip to Europe before we relocated to Los Angeles, CA where we currently live. I would love to do a trip like you guys at some point! In October I was in Zimbabwe for a medical missions trip and we watched the Rugby World Cup (happens every 4 years) between England and South Africa and it was CRAZY!! You should definitely check out a Springboek game and get a shirt. When I was traveling back through J’burg the whole town was painted green for the champions.

  3. Jeff, I think you’ll really enjoy cricket. More specifically, I think you’ll really enjoy sitting in the sun, beer in hand, and having some local try to explain the rules to you. It’s pretty popular in Australia, we played a little bit and it’s pretty fun! But definitely go for a shorter, one-day-only match, rather than the 5-day events a cricket game can be…

  4. Jeff, I think you’ll really enjoy cricket. More specifically, I think you’ll really enjoy sitting in the sun, beer in hand, and having some local try to explain the rules to you. It’s pretty popular in Australia, we played a little bit and it’s pretty fun! But definitely go for a shorter, one-day-only match, rather than the 5-day events a cricket game can be…

    Also elephant polo??!!?! Seriously?!?! That sounds awesome. I request pictures. Many, many pictures.

  5. nuts i thought i cancelled quickly enough to prevent that first post from actually posting so i could add that comment about elephant polo. sorry for deluding you into thinking that more people had actually commented. 🙂

  6. You should try and find some of the lesser-known culturally specific sports. For example, when Boris was getting ready to go to Kyrgyzstan we read about the national sport of Kok Boru or Ulka Tartysh where they ride around on horses and try to get control of a headless goat carcass, sort of like goat carcass polo I guess (http://www.photofactory.nl/Home/index_bestanden/Series/Ulak%20Tartysh.htm). I’m sure there are a lot of weird sports out there that you’d never get a chance to see anywhere else.

  7. We take our comments any way we can get them Paulina, thanks for running up the numbers! I could see myself enjoying cricket, though I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the terminology.

    You know, I was trying to find some “lesser known” sports, and the only I came up with (in a pretty shallow google search) was sepak takrow, which is a southeastern asian game that is something like hacky-sack + volleyball + badminton. The only way to spike the ball is with a bicycle kick, and they say the better players can “spike” the ball and land on their feet. This was #6 on my list =).

    But goat carcass polo sounds very … odd. I mean, why use a ball when a goat carcass will do the same thing? But as they say, when in Rome …

  8. I attended a kick boxing match at an arena in Bangkok once and it was quite fun. The crowd really gets into it too. An entire section of the seats was reserved for people gambling on the matches. They had an apparently very elaborate system of hand signals they used with each other to place and take bets.

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