Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

They say the New Year is a time of reflection, but for me, it is a time to issue a new sports road trip schedule! This year, however, I will do both.

I started this blog nearly six years ago, mainly to chronicle my extended sports road trips, but also to try to publicize the idea of sports travel. This secondary aim has been remarkably unsuccessful. As I journey around the country to various venues, I realize that most fans have little interest in sports or games other than those involving their favourite teams. For example, when Charger fans visited Buffalo back in September, they didn't care to attend a college game at the University at Buffalo the day before. There is a small collection of hardy sports road trippers that have found a collective home on Facebook; we try to see as many games and venues as possible regardless of the teams playing, but a larger demographic of those dedicated to sports travel simply does not exist. My NFL Road Trip book was the final nail in the proverbial coffin, demonstrating that the vast majority of sports fans really don't care about games or stadiums unless they have a rooting interest.

Despite the grim realization that my passion is shared by so few, I realize how the blog has instead become a great diary of my travels. As I get older and my feeble brain gets even feebler, I tend to forget many of the games I have seen. Just last week, I was checking out stats on Cal basketball before going to their game against Eastern Washington and noticed that they had one top-50 RPI win, over Syracuse. It took me a couple of minutes to remember that I actually attended the first half of that game, even though it had taken place just a month before. Hello dementia!

With this blog, I can look back and review the games I saw years before, most of which I can recall only a moment or two. It is particularly interesting to note players who were still relatively anonymous when I saw them in the minor leagues or college but who have gone on to stardom in the big leagues. So even though sports travel is a tiny niche in the world of sport, I'm going to continue this blog for a while yet as it provides value to me, and I hope in some little way, to you as well.

Looking back at 2014, I saw 128 events, including the Super Bowl, and added 57 venues to my count, now at 519. Looking ahead, the 2015 schedule can be seen here. It is obviously very, very tentative at this point. The trip to Iceland and Denmark is booked, but I have no idea if I'll actually make it to either hockey game (update: I made the one in Iceland). The Barbados trip is also set, but other than that every game depends on the three W's that might keep me from going (work, weather, wife). Games in the NYC area are added at the last minute, as I will often decide based on ticket availability on StubHub, though in general I don't have much interest in the local pro hockey or baseball teams and I'm boycotting the crooked NBA this season. I hope to see plenty of college hoops over the next few months, but many are in slightly inconvenient locations, so I have to plan carefully. The 2015 NFL season will see the Bills in Philadelphia, Washington, and Nashville among others and I hope to visit at least two of those games. The Brooklyn Islanders will move into Barclays Center and I'll definitely be at the first Leafs contest there.

I'm also thinking of a CFL road trip in September before returning to London for the incredible trifecta of NFL, Rugby World Cup, and Euro Qualifying. Plans are fluid, but you can always find the updated schedule here, along with the results of the games I've seen. So keep following along and if you happen to be in a town I am visiting, drop me a line and join me for a game.



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