If you want to gamble...it's obvious that you have to go to Las Vegas. If you want a warm, fun family vacation, you go to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. If you want to experience a passion for sports that is not seen anywhere in North America, then you have to visit the Big Apple....New York City. When I first arrived in New York City in 1998, standing in the middle of Times Square at night, I soon started to realize that it was the city where everything happens....especially great sporting events. If you love sports, then you have to visit New York City in your lifetime.
For hockey fans all over the world, nothing beats a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden (also known as MSG) during the middle of the week. Rangers fans are a passionate, rowdy bunch that really get into the game, unlike the suits at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. I have seen 7 Rangers games live at MSG (most of them were when the Leafs were visiting), and each time I learned about some of the awesome and fun fan traditions still going on since the 1970's. One of the best ones is the fact that the crowd constantly yells "Potvin Sucks, Potvin Sucks, Potvin Sucks" throughout every game. At first when I heard this, I thought they were chanting against Felix Potvin. However, Felix Potvin was no longer a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998, so I wondered why they were jeering him. It just seemed odd and peculiar, until I asked a fan beside me about the chant. It was directed towards Denis Potvin, the Hall of Fame defenceman from the hated cross town rivals, the New York Islanders. Apparently, in the 1970's, Denis Potvin hurt a star player on the Rangers, and Ranger fans never forgave him for it. No matter who the Rangers play, even in 2011, the chant goes on and on. It was even more hilarious watching Denis Potvin hear the chants about him, while he was a colour commentator for the Florida Panthers. It is so fun to hear 15,000 people in unison chanting like this.
I also had the privilege of watching a game from the old Yankee Stadium. This was an amazing experience in itself, filled with old traditions that make the fan feel like they count and that their opinions matter. When each Yankee player goes up to bat for the first time in every game, the right field bleacher creatures will yell his name until he acknowledges them specifically,with a tip of the hat or a wave to them. Where in the world do you see that? The same goes for the Yankees starting pitcher, who must also acknowledge the group.
If you are a tennis fan, nothing in the world beats attending the US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, just before Labour Day. I know, it sounds more prettier than it is, but it is in Queens, right beside LaGuardia Airport. This is the closest thing to feeling like you are at an all night street party. Night matches are the way to go, because everyone, even the athletes turn into different people. You can laugh your head off, sing and drink, all while watching an Andy Roddick tennis match.
Finally, there is no football atmosphere better than attending a Jets game at Giants Stadium. If you thought it was amazing hearing 15,000 people chanting at MSG, nothing is more amazing than the New York Jets fight chant of: "J - E - T - S.......Jets Jets Jets". Don't get me wrong, I can't stand the New York Jets because I love the Buffalo Bills, but the rush that goes through your body when you hear 75,000 people saying this is a once in a lifetime feeling. It is a feeling that I have never experienced in any NFL stadium.
I know the economy is still weak and I am not telling you to go as soon as possible, but if you love sports, you have to visit New York City in your lifetime. You won't regret it.