My Sports Bucket List – Part 2

Jan 27, 2013 by

My Sports Bucket List – Part 2


In part 1 I outlined the first half of my top ten sports bucket list and now it’s time for my top five.  Five years ago this list would have looked markedly different and five years from now I’ll probably say the same, but hopefully by then I’ll need to replace a few.

 5.  Attend the Olympic Games

The Olympics Games are sadly becoming more and more defined by a corporate identity; however, its international reach remains unrivalled in sport.  In cities like Toronto, nationalism isn’t commonly displayed and expressions of such are just as likely to be vilified as applauded; however, during the Olympics public sentiment tends to shift noticeably – especially when athletes reach the medal podium.  When the Canadian hockey team won Gold in 2010 in Vancouver, people could be seen marching proudly up and down Yonge St. wearing Canadian colors and waving flags and uncharacteristic electricity resonated throughout the city’s core.  Even a friend working abroad found a place to watch the game and sent a text to me expressing both her excitement and relief seconds after Sidney Crosby scored the game winner in overtime against the United States.  We were allowed to celebrate being Canadian that day and for those in the actual Olympic village or the venue itself, it must have been a vibrant and unforgettable experience.

The Olympic Games are such a powerfully mobilizing event and to be in the heart of it is something I must one day experience.  The dedication and commitment of the coaches and the athletes participating is nothing short of inspiring.  Often the human interest stories of Olympians are just as compelling as their competitive accomplishments. Very few stand to gain financially and the window of opportunity for amateur athletes to compete for their country is short and requires so much hard work, dedication and luck just to participate.  On occasion there may be a controversy involving an Olympic athlete, but there remains a level of purity surrounding the spirit of competition that is difficult to find among modern professional sports.  The Olympics represent all that is great about elite athletic competition and every sports fan should one day experience it firsthand.

The more I the think about it the more I wish I had gone to the winter Olympics in Vancouver…

4.  World Cup or Stanley Cup final

I’ve included two options here because it will be very difficult to see a World Cup final and so I’ve thrown in the Stanley Cup final as well. This is simply about experiencing my favourite sports the only way accessible to me at their highest level.  My first choice would be the World Cup somewhere in South America or Europe, but if the Toronto Maple Leafs were involved in a Stanley Cup final, I might have to change my mind.  Either scenario is unlikely to occur for years to come, because I don’t have plans to visit Brazil in 2014, nor are the Maple leafs anywhere close to contention.  In time I hope to do both, but at the very least I’ll witness history at one of these two events.

3. Run a marathon

In 2000 I participated in a student exchange where I studied in Sienna for a summer. Prior to going, I entered the NYC marathon lottery for a chance to participate and seriously trained for 3 months in preparation and decided to extend the training while away should I qualify.  Midway through my studies I learned that I did not win a place to compete in the race and promptly stopped running after being introduced to Sangiovese – as I found my true calling that summer involved red wine and travelling across Western Europe.

I’ve since ran a 10k and the odd charity 5k, but I never again seriously trained to run such a grueling distance as a marathon.  As I get older it gets tougher to find the time to commit to such an endeavour and having to deal with the wear and tear and recovery needed to endure the training is really challenging. I must admit the idea of running a marathon sounds a bit absurd even; there’s a good reason why less than 1% of the population run a marathon – it’s a daunting task and people die at these races all the time.

What’s worse is that I absolutely hate running. So why do something I despise on such an extreme scale you might ask?  It’s something I simply must endure. I consider myself an athlete and I want to see if I can rise to the occasion and fight through the torment of running 26.2 miles. It’s a physical and mental challenge very few of us ever try to endure, or even consider and knowing that is also a motivating factor.  More importantly though, I want to know how I react when I’ve rounded the corner on the 18th mile and I’ve hit the wall and my body is starting to fail me and I know I still have to run 8.2 miles in order to finish. Will I rise to the occasion or will I fail? There’s only one way to find out.

2. Play in the World Series of Poker Main Event (WSOPME)

I know many of you will question whether or not poker is a sport in the first place.  In earnest I don’t think it is, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to allow for it.  Every year thousands of people flock to Las Vegas and pay $10,000 to participate in the World Series of Poker Main Event for a chance to win millions of dollars.  The money involved might be the sole selling point for most, but for me it’s about the competition and the stage.

I’m not at a point in my life where I can justifiably buy-in to fulfil a dream; however, there are many ways one can qualify with smaller satellites on internet poker sites like Pokerstars. It’s just a matter of spending the time studying and refining my game and ultimately getting lucky enough to qualify without busting my bankroll. I got close once a few years ago when I finished third in a tournament of 50 or so, that had one grand prize entry to the main event.  For the record, I got my money in with the best hand Ace two off, against Queen Ten suited, but unfortunately a queen spiked on the turn and my dream was postponed to a later date.

Online Poker has faced a number of legal issues in recent years; hence, like many poker enthusiasts I’ve played very little over this time; however, that won’t prevent me from one day qualifying for the main event.  It doesn’t matter if I cash or not – I just want to compete on the highest stage for a chance to make history and maybe win a few bucks along the way.

1. Go to the Kentucky Derby

The racetrack is one of my favourite places to go to and holds a special meaning for me for many reasons – even if, it no longer holds the allure it once did. The local horse racing industry has been in decline for many years.  Today’s young adults have not levitated to the sport like previous generations and sadly its leading to the closure of racetracks across the country which could have dire consequences for horse race owners in the future.  I still find it difficult knowing that Kingston Raceway has been closed for over fifteen years.  I spent a great deal of time there in my childhood with my father and it’s a source of many fond memories.  Whether it was the races, or watching the range of human emotion that unfolds in a live gambling setting, or just eating the perfectly breaded chicken fingers and fries and gravy – even if it was in a smoke-filled dining room. There was always a palpable buzz in the air and something to discover and look forward to at the “track”.

The racetrack is where I learned to develop and trust my intuition; the odds reveal some guidance for choosing the winner(s) of a given race, but the inclusion of horses brings a dearth of intangibles that make it difficult to make a wager based on the numbers alone.  So we rely on hunches, a catchy name, past performance or how a thoroughbred interacts with its jockey.  We look for any advantage and make a choice based on a combination of variables including statistics, blind faith, and instinct in a horse winning on your behalf.  When everything comes together in your favour it’s rewarding, but even when you lose you feel like you’ve experienced something that has its own unique value. In the right setting and company, the racetrack can be a magical place where one can learn a lot about himself and the human condition.

When I go to Woodbine now, I see something has been lost over the years.  The rush of the race is still enjoyable, but the demographics of the patrons have changed and so has the spirit behind the experience.  People are more reserved and less emotional today – it’s a neutered environment in comparison to the old days and much less appealing.  The grandstands will always maintain a level of intensity and raw emotion, but it doesn’t carry over into the dining rooms and hallways like it once did.   I imagine certain events have maintained the charm, character and the intangibles that I can identify with, and the Kentucky Derby must be considered the marquee event for such an experience.  Its historical significance in horseracing has no equal in North America and its unique traditions add to the mystique.  It is an event I must one day see first-hand – hopefully with my father beside me.  You see he is the true race horse enthusiast.  He is the one who introduced me to the world of gambling and the emotion inherent behind investing in something outside of your control.   He would love attending the Kentucky Derby more than anyone I know and that significantly adds to its attraction for me on a personal basis. Ultimately, this bucket list I’ve compiled, has limited value if I experience all of these things by myself – after all, it’s about sharing memorable events with the people who mean the most in ones life.  When I do complete tasks on my bucket list I will update this master list and outline some highlights – feel free to make your own contributions below.





  1. 2014 World Cup Predictions - The Sporting Spectator - […] be one to remember. Every sports fan should attend a World Cup or at least add it to their…

Leave a Reply