How Sports and Travel Go Together

Sports and travel; travel and sports; any way you look at it they go hand in hand. Whether you love to travel or you love sports, there is no denying they go together. All collegiate and professional sports teams travel. If you’re a big sports fan like me then perhaps you actually learned geography from watching sports. Or if you grew up traveling and not into sports then you were likely exposed to International sports at some point on your travels. Either way, sports and travel go together.

I have many passions in my life but sports are my top passion. I grew up playing and watching all sports. It was all I thought about as a kid. I watched every American sport, both collegiate and professional. I loved it.

Sports helped me learn geography. By the time I was 6 years old I knew every sports team in every major professional sport in America and Canada. I knew the cities they played and the states or provinces that they were in. How else would a 6-year-old American kid from Trumbull, Connecticut know where Winnipeg, Edmonton, Green Bay, Portland and Quebec City were?

That knowledge also led me to study maps as a kid and learned about every country in the world and every capital city. I didn’t travel as a kid but I was always fascinated by the world and liked to know about it. I was always curious and wanted to know everything.

As I got older and eventually made some money as a teenager and into my 20’s, I started traveling around the states to different stadiums. I wanted to and still do want to visit every stadium in sports. A lofty goal but that goal also helps me visit most cities and states and has been a huge motivating factor in my greater goals with travel. Again, sports and travel go together.

When I finally left America for the first time when I was just 20 years old, I discovered soccer. As a desperate sports fan living in London in fall 1998, I yearned for live sports. In 1998, satellite TV and the Internet wasn’t nearly what it is today.

To put it into perspective, I still hand-wrote letters home, not emails and to get sports scores I would be a day delayed until the USA Today came out at news stands in London so I could follow the 1998 Home Run race and the Yankees record-breaking season.

As a result of this I started following English soccer or football. I started following Arsenal religiously and soon branched out into the other European leagues, especially La Liga in Spain where I adopted FC Barcelona as my team because I loved the city so much when I visited.

While living in Europe and each of the 80+ times I’ve been back since 1998, I try to plan my trips around soccer games and hopefully at new stadiums that I haven’t yet been to. At this point I have been to nearly every major stadium in Europe. That said, it never gets old, so I will never get tired of it.

Travel also introduced me to other sports. In 2003 while spending a year in Australia and New Zealand, I got really into Rugby. The Rugby World Cup was held in Australia that year and miraculously the English won it. I got really into it and still love the Rugby World Cup and have become a huge All Blacks fan. I also follow Tri-Nations, Sevens and all other major competitions around the world.

I can say the same for several other sports like Aussie Rules Football, Hurling, Hockey, Sumo, Handball and many more. The only sport I just can’t get into is Cricket and I have tried several times. I just don’t get it!

That all said, I am not trying to brag about all the sports events and stadiums I’ve been to but to illustrate how sports and travel can go together and in fact can act as the cause and effect of each other; whether you intended it or not. That’s the beauty of both sports and travel. They are two things that you can do your whole life.

My favorite place in the world is probably Yankee Stadium in New York. I have been over 1000 times and each time I still love it. The same can be said for Emirates Stadium in London or the Nou Camp in Barcelona or the San Siro in Milan. I can’t wait until the next time I am at each one. It doesn’t matter who is playing, it’s just the experience of the game and the experience in the city. Each stadium is different for different cultures and traditions.

It doesn’t matter if you see a game at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, a game at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev or a game at the Bell Centre in Montreal. All are fun, different and each one will take you to another great city in a great country. Sports and travel go together and that is a beautiful thing!

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  1. As you know, you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to travel and sports. That’s why I dedicate a section of my travel site to sports and travel. I wish those people that aren’t sports fans but love travel would go to an event and engage beyond the action on the field.

    The people and the passion are incredible. Like you, I am a HUGE soccer fan. I’ve watched Barcelona play at the Camp Nou. As a Chelsea fan, I cried when they won the Champions League last year. That wasn’t the first time I shed tears either. I cried when South Carolina won the national title in baseball at the College World Series. I LOVE LOVE LOVE college football and was fortunate enough to do a College Football Travel series with Expedia this year.

    However, anyone who thinks they are just games don’t get it. It’s more than a game – it’s a passion, a culture, a religion to many, a way to connect with locals. Like you, I love all sports but it’s the memories, the experiences, and the people that make travel and sports go together.

    • Well said my friend although I hate Chelsea I know the feeling and understand where you’re coming from. I told you this when I was there but being at South Carolina for the Georgia game this year was unbelievable and I’ve been to a lot of SEC games but that was the most intense atmosphere I’ve seen in CFB. Sports encompasses all that travel is, it is the heart of many nations and cities…a great way to experience the world.

      • That is one game I wish I could have seen. I know how awesome that game was. I watched it but I talk with Gamecock fans every day and they’ve said that was the best environment ever for a game. It was rocking! I wish it was like that for every single game but that was a special night.

        I don’t like the Yankees at all but we have Barcelona in common. I like Arsenal. Have nothing against them but I do hate Man U.

  2. Munich 2006 – Australia vs Croatia – an all time great sporting moment for me 🙂
    Even watching a big sporting match whilst travelling somewhere can be interesting. We were in Sweden during the 2010 World Cup and saw Australia vs Germany at a random pub with a bunch of crazy Swedes. Lots of good sporting and travel memories 🙂

  3. Lee, great article-I love when you talk about sports. I live in London and when I came here from Boston I too embraced soccer because it was the only real choice! I do, however, like cricket-although I think it’s more of a drinking live sport than on TV. Rugby is big here too but I haven’t gotten too into it because England hasn’t done mich since that world cup win you mentioned 10 years ago.

    • Again, still can’t do cricket but yes I do think it’s a drinking sport to watch and Rugby is great and they have a lot of big Int’l matches at Twickenham and Wembley too I believe.

  4. I love sports too and haven’t traveled nearly s much as you but I have been to a lot of different stadiums in the US and Canada. I totally agree that they are all different. I would kill to go to all the great stadiums in Europe and South America with the Nou Camp as the top of my list. Great story Lee.

  5. I would love to go to the Superbowl in America. Have you ever been Lee? I’m sure you have but sounds like so much fun.

    • Hi Amy and yes I’ve been to the Superbowl before. It is fun but to be honest the game is better watched on TV…NFL football is made for television…college is meant to be seen live

  6. Much the same myself. I have been to 5 Soccer World Cups & 4 European Championships, 4 Rugby World Cups and watched Test cricket in India, Australia and New Zealand (shame you don’t like cricket, but I don’t get baseball). I’ve also seen a game at all 92 football league grounds in the English leagues. Countless numbers of soccer qualifying games as far afield as Kazakhstan & Belarus, even friendlies (including USA v England in Chicago).

    I also plan my trips around sports tournaments. Brazil 2014 World Cup and a West Indies Cricket Tour 2015 are in the planning stage now.

    I’m not sure which passion came first, probably sport but they do dovetail very well and you often see countries at their best when they are hosting a tournament.

    • That’s unbelievable Mike about the 92 grounds, seriously awesome! I have been to 8 and can’t wait to get to more. Planning trips around sports is the best because you get a two for one, a great country/city and a great game/experience!

    • Wow, Mike! That is an impressive sports travel resume! I met a Vietnam War vet in Belize years ago who had been to three himself, which is now my goal (got started with World Cup 2014). I haven’t even started thinking about the European Championships and I only started getting into Rugby within the past 2 – 3 years. So, a Rugby World Cup on my bucket list, as well. Good on you for living the dream, though. Amazing!

  7. Great job on Fox this morning! You were great! Also great article, I know how much you love sports and travel so makes sense!

  8. Awesome post Lee.

  9. Some of the best experiences of my life have been traveling and at sporting events. I saw an All Blacks match in Wellington, the Grand Final in Melbourne and also the Champions League Final in Moscow a few years ago. They’re all amazing experiences I will always remember.

  10. The first time I planned a trip around a sporting event was September 2008 to see one of the final games at Old Yankee Stadium. Since then, I have gone to the 2014 Winter Classic, World Cup 2014, and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. This has inspired me to create a Sports travel bucket list as I think it is quite feasible for most people to achieve those if visiting 196 countries isn\\\’t. 😉

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