November 08, 2004

Ask SpoFi: What are the must-attend sporting events or matchups in terms of pure atmosphere?

posted by gspm to navel gazing at 10:50 PM - 36 comments

on to the 101th lockerroom thread... I read a recap on the Guardian about the recent Marseille-PSG match that was complete with 50 PSG loolas (whatever those are) greeting the Marseille team bus with a hail of chairs, iron bars and cans through the windows. It got me to thinking about what some of the most atmospheric (for better or for worse) matchups you can watch. I think there are a couple of huge matchups (derbies?) in Yugoslavia and Argentina that make a list of such events. Fans going mental. So what would the pinnacle be for various leagues? My mind could come up with (not necessarily correct, so I am asking): Rangers v Celtic - Glasgow SPL derby Arsenal v Tottenham - North London derby Red Sox v Yankees - with probably Fenway being the place to see that matchup, it would get the edge on "character" or some such. The Masters - the one major that sticks to the same course every year OSU v Michigan in college football but given the classic rivalries in the NHL, NFL and NBA - are there any that can really be counted on to get the blood pumping? Some sort of passion that may or may not be expressed by throwing a chair through the visiting team bus window?

posted by gspm at 10:50 PM on November 08, 2004

NHL - rangers vs. flyers/islanders at MSG was always a good one. you could always count on more fights in the stands than on the ice (i haven't been to the garden in a while so i can't say if that has changed). i've only seen yankees vs. red sox at the stadium so i can't vouch for the "character" being superior in one place or the other. you will probably get more boston fans at the stadium than you would yankee fans at fenway since tickets are easier to get. i would think this would lead to more altercations between fans since there are more of "them". i've noticed they've gotten more brazen in the past couple of years too and it will most likely only get worse this year. security is always beefed up for these matchups. aside from opening day and the playoffs, red sox games are the only other ones where i've seen snipers on the roof. yankees vs. mets at the stadium is good as well. while it certainly doesn't compare to throwing chairs, there used to be a guy on 5th avenue that would moon the opposing team's bus as it made it's way up to the stadium.

posted by goddam at 11:24 PM on November 08, 2004

can I add to the growing list... Blues v Villa (football) and of course: India v Pakistan (cricket)

posted by BigCalm at 02:51 AM on November 09, 2004

I don't think Arsenal really see Spurs as a rival any more. You'd probably get a more intense atmosphere at Arsenal v Man U or Arsenal v Chelski. Not that there's ever much atmosphere inside the Highbury Library. In terms of the EPL Man Utd v Liverpool is probably more hostile

posted by squealy at 03:55 AM on November 09, 2004

The single basis for saying Arsenal-Tottenham was just recalling Arsenal clinching the title at Tottenham last season and having to boogie off the pitch due to hostile fans. It may be a one way rivalry but the atmosphere must be something.

posted by gspm at 07:14 AM on November 09, 2004

Michigan/Ohio State pales in comparison to Michigan/Michigan State any sport.

posted by MeatSaber at 07:44 AM on November 09, 2004

For mass produced energy and frenzy, nothing beats an NHL playoff game. Especially one that goes into overtime and the home team wins. Lookout!

posted by NoMich at 07:53 AM on November 09, 2004

I've heard the Vikings-Packers game at Lambeau Field is a pretty exciting one.

posted by rocketman at 09:00 AM on November 09, 2004

I concur with squealy...Arsenal vs Man U and Liverpool vs Man U seem to be the best. Also, Man U vs Man C is usually alway entertaining. Liverpool vs Everton...

posted by StarFucker at 09:00 AM on November 09, 2004

NHL - Calgary/Edmonton, Toronto/Montreal games are pretty sweet if you can score tickets. TOR/OTT games are getting pretty good too, er, could perhaps maybe continue to turn up the rivalry heat. Cancon rules thus satisfied, Rangers v. Isles games are nuts.

posted by garfield at 09:05 AM on November 09, 2004

It's also fun to go to an intense-rivalry NHL game in the other team's barn, if you root for one of the teams involved. Just be careful...people in Chicago don't take kindly to Wings fans...

posted by MeatSaber at 09:23 AM on November 09, 2004

saber, I've seen Devils' fans slash tires, shit, all four tires, of the out of town fans' rides....not cool.

posted by garfield at 10:08 AM on November 09, 2004

NoMich, you spelled "Lockout!" wrong. :( Though any playoff game in Maple Leaf Gardens was an electrifying event. If the Leafs and Montreal ever met again, many people would catch religion in the arena. Speaking in tongues, visitations, the whole nine. It hasn't happened in a while.

posted by chicobangs at 11:06 AM on November 09, 2004

I have to reiterate the Toronto/Montreal hockey matchup. It's got language (English/French), religion (Protestant/Catholic), politics (heart of Canada/heart of separatist Quebec), history (almost 100 years of game)... If they met in a Stanley Cup final series (can't happen anymore, but you can dream...), the entire nation would come to a standstill. As it is now, early season matchups in November are soldout with scalpers selling tickets for 15x their face value. The TV ratings are bigger than anything else on the national network. The post-game coverage lasts for an hour. The sports news shows spend the first 10 minutes of their half-hour show covering just that game. It's everything the NY/Bos baseball rivalry has, except it also has a closed roof (for the crowd noise to reverberate) and extra violence (on the field of play, every play). It is, as the kids say, off-the-fucking-hook.

posted by grum@work at 12:08 PM on November 09, 2004

The days when the rival between Syracuse and Georgetown in college basketball hold a special place in my heart. How about the Giants and Dodgers?

posted by jasonspaceman at 12:30 PM on November 09, 2004

Duke-UNC in Cameron. Cards-Cubs in Wrigley.

posted by mbd1 at 12:57 PM on November 09, 2004

Raiders-Chiefs in the Oakland Coliseum. It's been less intense the last two years (because the Raiders suck), but people still go completely nuts when the Chiefs are in town. Raider fans are a unique breed. I've got some photos that I'll post if I can find them... these aren't typical middle-class football fans. Beyond the wild costumes, there's a distinct feeling that not much else is going right for some of these people, and this game is all they've got to cheer them up. Raiders fans have to be the only ones with more street cred than the players. I've seen people wearing Chiefs jerseys that are soaked with (thrown) beer before the game starts... it's not a nice atmosphere at all. Add in all the Hell's Angels-types, Mexican gangbangers, and drunken lowlifes, and you DO NOT want to be in the cheap seats in the 4th quarter of a loss.

posted by dusted at 01:22 PM on November 09, 2004

I've attended a Leafs v Habs match at the Molson center. It was indeed something to behold - I cannot forget the volume of the fans that were cheering for the Leafs. They were on the road in Montreal fer crying out loud. But when they scored (I think they won 5-2 or something like that) the place sounded pretty loud provided it was due to visiting team support. I figure the buzz has lessened though since the Leafs returned to the NHL eastern division and now play Montreal 7 times a year or so. It is a rivalry that I would surely like to witness (Flames v Oilers also having merit) but I never had the sense, at that game, that the fans in the stands were going mental. Canadian politeness I guess.

posted by gspm at 02:20 PM on November 09, 2004

The Habs-Leafs rivalry is something, but because of the divisional playoff system of old and the waning and waxing of the Leafs and Habs, they haven't met in a playoff series where both of them were half decent in decades. Growing up in Montreal, what I really remember was the battle of Quebec, with the Habs playing the Nordiques. You had brawls before the games, suspensions, a cosmopolitan culture capital vs provincial provincial capital thing. It was nuts.

posted by sauril at 02:59 PM on November 09, 2004

dusted, I was going to say Raiders/49ers at Oakland, especially back in 1981-1995 when both teams were among the tops nearly every year. Not as big a deal when played at Candlestick because tickets were too hard for Raiders fans to get.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:04 PM on November 09, 2004

Speaking of Raider fans, those fuckers are everywhere! I went to the debacle in Charlotte this past Sunday, and those drunken dickheads were swarming the place. I got lots of pleasure of faux cheering the Chiefs to them though. "Whoo! Chiefs rule!" Seeing their faces turn plenty shades of purple, while looking for offending party was pretty funny. So yeah, point is, Raider fans hate the Chiefs.

posted by NoMich at 03:14 PM on November 09, 2004

what is the connection between the radiers and chiefs? I mean geographical rivalries i can get... but there isn't anything obvious to me about that one.

posted by gspm at 05:59 PM on November 09, 2004

gspm: Divison rivals since the AFL days.

posted by billsaysthis at 06:38 PM on November 09, 2004

Besides, pirates and Plains Indians are so obviously natural enemies. I mean, like, duh!

posted by NoMich at 09:44 PM on November 09, 2004

There are a few hot rivalries included in this article from the Observer, which has been linked from here before (April 4).

posted by JJ at 05:10 AM on November 11, 2004

Ask SpoFi What are the must-attend sporting events or matchups in terms of pure atmosphere? I'm going to write a book about this someday, if I can get a big enough advance. - Wimbledon - The Palio - The Hahnenkamm - The Vasalopp - India vs. Pakistan cricket - The Sydney-Hobart race - The Iditarod - The Boston Marathon - The Head of the Charles - The Whitney - The Hawaii Ironman - Tour de France - Gauleyfest - The Hong Kong dragon boat races That'll do for starters...

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:38 AM on November 11, 2004

That would be a cool book, lbb, and I'm sure all the active(?) members of SpoFi would buy copies just to be supportive. That gets you a print run of what, maybe 25 right there. How could any publisher pass it up? Seriously, I do think this is a great topic for a book. As someone with a little understanding once advised me in a similar situation, why not try for an assignment to write an article on one of these events in the style you envision for the whole book, then use the article as a proving ground for your pitch to publishers?

posted by billsaysthis at 01:24 PM on November 11, 2004

I tell you what l_b_b, you get the advance to write this book, and I'll allow you to hire me to help you go from location to location to write this book. Especially if you include the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I mean, have you seen the size of the party during the trophy celebration? That looks like a hoot.

posted by NoMich at 01:35 PM on November 11, 2004

lbb - any links for the lazy to accompany some of those events? I mean I can find India and Pakistan and now what this 'cricket' is and the Hahnenkamm is skiing (pretty sure) but Vasalopp? How about The World Wife Carrying Championships? That must be a hoot. And it WOULD be a good idea for a book though to properly capture atmospheric type things it would require a thick book. I'd settle for a series of articles in the New Yorker or something like that. Good and meaty, capture the scene, the history, etc.

posted by gspm at 04:37 PM on November 11, 2004

And remember, even if it turns out to be just a series of magazine articles, you're still going to need a highly paid assistant to go to all of those cool places.

posted by NoMich at 04:54 PM on November 11, 2004


posted by goddam at 05:33 PM on November 11, 2004

Have to second what mdb1 said; I've been to some big football (national title NCAA in one team's home state) and baseball games, but the Duke-Carolina atmosphere in Cameron is just another level- passion, hate, and a closed roof. A tiny closed roof. Very crazy. Of course, for most readers of this page, it is too late to get the best seats, but... topside isn't that much worse :)

posted by tieguy at 06:56 PM on November 11, 2004

lbb - any links for the lazy to accompany some of those events? I mean I can find India and Pakistan and now what this 'cricket' is and the Hahnenkamm is skiing (pretty sure) but Vasalopp? You're not lazy, I am. I should have provided them in the first place. Lemme try that again: - Wimbledon - The Palio - The Hahnenkamm - The Vasalopp - India vs. Pakistan cricket - The - The Iditarod - The Boston Marathon - The Head of the Charles - The Whitney - The Hawaii Ironman - Tour de France - Gauleyfest - The Hong Kong dragon boat races ...and I'll happily add: - The 24 hours of Le Mans - The 24 hours of Aspen ...and anything else of similar vein that I can come up with. And I would love to get the New Yorker to bite on even one of these articles. What the hell, it's worth a try...

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:28 PM on November 11, 2004

I so wanted to attend the World Cup of Hockey gold medal game... was that close to buying a ticket. I so wanted to attend the gold medal Olympic Hockey game at Salt Lake City... was that close to buying a ticket. I'm not sure if I regret it, as they were expensive as hell, but that would have been quite the atmosphere. Hell, you should have seen the atmosphere on the streets of Toronto after Canada won Olympic gold... it was insane.

posted by mkn at 12:54 PM on November 12, 2004

if not the New Yorker i think the OSM would be an good place for articles on such topics. As JJ pointed out, they ran a piece touching on essential sporting things to do and I know they run long stories and do pieces on things outside the major sports.

posted by gspm at 03:37 PM on November 12, 2004

Second vote for the Tour de France. On one of the Pyranean mountain stages, at the top of a climb, with thousands of fans, and the riders going over the top one by one because they're all knackered and the peloton has exploded. Never done it myself, but it looks awesome.

posted by afx237vi at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2004

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