Sports can be rewarding whether you’re playing them or just watching them. Playing sports provides a solid workout and, depending on the sport, a sense of teamwork and comradery. It makes you feel like a part of something bigger than yourself. If you play your cards right, watching sports can also make you feel like a part of something bigger than yourself. Think of the collective cheer when a football player crosses the goal line for a game-winning score in the playoffs, or the collective groan from the home fans when an outfielder muffs an easy catch. If you’ve never been to a live sporting event, then you’re missing out on a truly unique experience. There’s more than one way to attend a game or match, depending on where you live, what you like, and how much money you’re willing to spend. Keep in mind that some truly amazing experiences will cost more, but they’re usually worth the extra dough.
It’s good to start small. After all, no one wants to suddenly discover they’ve developed claustrophobia while surrounded by forty thousand screaming football fans, half of whom are at least a little drunk. Starting small gives you a feel for the environment and lets you determine what you are and aren’t comfortable with. If you go to a minor league baseball game and decide you hate sitting in bleacher seats, that’s OK. It’s better to find that out after spending $15 than to find that out after spending $500. Going to a more under-the-radar game also lets you get a sense of how much money you’ll need to budget for food and other concessions. A hot dog that costs $5 at one stadium can cost $12 at a different one twenty miles away. In general, food at sporting events is incredibly overpriced, and the problem only gets worse as you go to larger, fancier stadiums and arenas. Newer stadiums try to outdo each other by offering a higher class of food and drink, but you’re going to pay for it. Sure, a truffle burger during the seventh inning stretch might sound tasty, but will it taste as good if you have to pay $30 for it?
Upgrading the experience
Once you’ve been to a few lower-level games and have a good idea of what does and doesn’t make for a good time, then you need to figure out what your dream sporting event looks like. Start by allowing yourself to really go big, at least in your head. If a genie appeared and offered you a great game day experience, what would you ask for? Sports fans who grew up in New York might ask that genie to pick up tickets for a Yankees game, while California kids may request a swanky suite at the Staples Center to see the Lakers play. Once you’ve figured out your dream, figure out how much you’re willing to spend. Then try to meet in the middle of those two extremes. You’re obviously not going to rent a helicopter and land it on the 50-yard-line at an NFL game, but you may be able to spring for a jersey autographed by your team’s starting quarterback.