A Beginner’s Guide to a Grown Man’s Fantasy: The ‘Fall’ Getaway Sports Tour

by Justin Nearon

Fall on South Beach

I can’t wait till winter. This is not because I love winter, far from it.  Winter just happens to be closer to spring, which is closer to summer and I love Summer.  So by proxy Fall is my least favourite season.

No offense Fall, it isn’t anything you’ve done per se.  If you were before summer, I’d probably love you the same way I love Christmas Eve.  But you’re not.  You are Boxing Day and I hate boxing day because it means Christmas is over.

Having said all that Fall is not without it’s merits, namely serving up an absolute Smörgåsbord   of sporting events like no other season can.  Pro and college football is in full swing, the NBA and NHL seasons are just underway and a World Series champion is being crowned in baseball.  This confluence of events in September is probably no coincidence, as we need lots to distract ourselves from the post summer blues.

If money was no object, what better way pass the time until the first day of winter (Dec.21st),  than by criss crossing the planet attending one sporting event after another.

In the event that money is an object, like it is for about 95 percent of the world’s population, cable TV and your best sun lamp will have to suffice.

All aboard the “Fall Getaway Express”:

Oct 30th – Cleveland, Ohio:  New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers

Taking off from my home base of Vancouver, BC our first stop is clear across the continent in…. Cleveland!?  It’s probably not your 100th, let alone first choice for a Fall getaway spot, but were not escaping the season just distracting ourselves from it.  Chilly temperatures and cloudy skies will be the last thing on the minds of anyone in the state of Ohio as Lebron James officially marks his triumphant return to the franchise that drafted him.

Lebron James – AP Images/Mark Duncan

Oct. 31st – Kansas City, Missouri: World Series Victory Parade

With the World Series going to a 7th game on Wednesday, the 3st is probably the day the victorious city honors their champions.  While not everyone loves baseball, who can’t get behind a championship parade?  Pro Athletes singing and dancing badly on flatbed trucks cruising down streets lined with tens of thousands of fans. It’s an event every red blooded sports fan should experience at least once in their life.

Having said that, if San Francisco beats Kansas City for the crown, we can forget about this pitstop, unless you want to cross the continent for the second time in three days.

Nov.1st – Miami, Florida: Philadelphia Flyers vs Florida Panthers

This is hardly a marquee NHL matchup, but “were in Miami biatch!!”  Quit your complaining. After two days spent in Ohio and Missouri we deserve a little pit stop in one of the few places in North America spitting out sunshine in November.

I also want to get out one more “Loooouuuuu”, before former Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo retires.

Florida Panthers Fans – The Score.com

Nov.8th and 9th – London, England: A “Football’ Double Dip

I know this is an entire week after the hockey game, but I figured we needed a few extra days on South beach to prepare for our journey across the atlantic.  The sprawling metropolis of London is our host during a weekend’s worth of ‘football’.

On Saturday we will experience the sport as it was originally intended when Chelsea hosts Liverpool at Stamford Bridge Stadium.  These English Premier League stalwarts are arguably the two most famous “soccer’ clubs in the world not named Manchester United.

A ride across town on the London Underground will take us to Wembley Stadium for some American Football as the Jacksonville Jaguars battle the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.  It’s the last of three NFL games to be played in the city this year.

And yes the irony of leaving Miami to go watch a Florida based team play in England is not lost on me.

NFL in London – AlderShotHive.com

Nov.15th – Mexico City: UFC 180: Werdum vs Hunt

Our next destination takes us back across the Atlantic to Mexico City where North America’s southernmost country will take its first shot at hosting the UFC.

For what it’s worth the 21,000 seat Arena Ciudad sold out 8 hours after the event was announced, but their enthusiasm might be tempered somewhat as three Mexican-American fighters had to pull out due to injury.  The biggest blow was the withdrawal of the first ever Mexican Heavyweight Champion in any sport; Cain Velasquez.  But for the Mexican fans who really like some “fight” in their fighters, old school brawler Mark Hunt is the perfect replacement.

Fists will fly and blood will be spilled.  Hopefully it’s not ours after having one too many shots of tequila in a ‘day-effay’ drinking establishment.

Nov. 23rd – Buenos Aires, Argentina: Racing Club vs River Plate

Brazil may be South America’s top footballing nation, but the continents preeminent professional league, Primera Division A, operates out of Argentina.  We will be the country’s most populous city to watch River Plate play host to Racing Club.  The New York Yankees of Argentine football, River Plate has won an astounding 36 titles with another 31 second place finishes since 1891.

Racing Club, which plays in a suburb of Buenos Aires, aren’t lacking in trophy case hardware either, with 16 championships.

Neither club will ever win a title for most inventive nickname.

River Plate Supporters – Photo-NYT

Nov.27th – Dallas, Texas: Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys

We head back to the US just in time to watch America’s Team play on the most American of holidays: Thanksgiving.

Sure we saw the Cowboys play once already in London, but it’s an entirely different experience to see them play in Texas, where the tailgaters outside the stadium could fill a mid-size NHL arena.

Oh yeah, and they have 160 foot video screen inside the stadium.  Nothing goes better with a ‘big ass’ turkey dish than a ‘big ass’ HDTV.

The writer underneath the “Big Ass” HDTV Screen in Dallas – Photo-Brandyland.com

Dec.6th – Las Vegas Nevada: UFC 181: Hendricks vs Lawler

I don’t need a sporting event to make a pitstop in one of my favourite cities, but another UFC event in a town made for pro fights, certainly doesn’t hurt.

This card not only features two title fights, and MMA’s favourite cleft chin in Urijah Faber, but the UFC debut of arguably the world’s best female boxer; Holly Holm.  If she wins against Raquel Pennington, “The Preacher Daughter” is expected to test her highly specialized skills against Bantamweight Champ Ronda Rousey next year.

Canadians should be especially interested in the fight cards headliner Johny Hendricks vs Robbie Lawler, as the winner will defend the Welterweight belt against British Columbia’s very own Rory MacDonald.

Urijah Faber

Dec. 13th – Baltimore, Maryland: Army vs Navy

Ideally I wanted to take a tour path that eventually circled us right back to Vancouver, but a detour was necessary in order to experience one of the most storied rivalries in college football.

If you can stomach a little bit of overt nationalism, it’s touching to watch a bunch of kids, playing the last meaningful football game of their lives.  Most students that attend Armed Service academies are required to serve at least 5 years of active duty, virtually eliminating their chances of being drafted by an NFL team.

Dec.19th – Los Angeles, California: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers

For the third time on our tour we go coast to coast, stopping in Los Angeles for what could be our last healthy dose of UV rays before spring.

I was also hoping to see B.C. boy Steve Nash drive and dish one last time, but as he’s done for the year, if not his career, we’ll have to settle for Kobe Bryant vs Kevin Durant.

I know, I know.  Life is hard.

Dec.20th – Vancouver, BC: Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks

Time to head back home.  Once I’m sitting inside a raucous stadium backdropped by one of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the world, I’m sure I’ll realize fall isn’t that bad afterall.

There probably won’t be any snow in the ground, which is more than you can say for about half the continent.  My real job slows down, which means more time to write for my favourite website, WBD.  Most importantly we’ll only be three months away from spring, which is a mere three months from summer and thankfully nine months away from long fall.

President Barack Obama flipping coin at Army vs Navy – Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

@JustinNearon

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