By Ben Groundwater
Go To The Big Game.
How do you choose? In this country of a million experiences, a country of sporting heroes and movie stars, of celebrity chefs and rock ‘n’ roll gods, where everything is bigger and better than anything else you’ve ever seen… How do you choose just one thing to do? How do you choose just one experience?
The answer, of course, is that you don’t. You do a million things. You do all the things. You live the USA to its biggest and boldest.
However, there is one thing you should do first: go to the big game.
Sport in America is huge, it’s a spectacle that goes far beyond what’s happening on the field. It doesn’t matter if you choose Major League baseball, college football, ice hockey, NBA, or even high school sport. You just have to experience a sporting event in the USA.
It’s all the hype, the ceremony. It’s tail-gating in Texas, hanging out in the parking lot and grilling meat and drinking beer hours before the game. It’s singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It’s watching insanely talented athletes leap into orbit at a basketball game. It’s seeing ice-skaters with the grace of Torvill and Dean crash into each other with the force of a 10-car pile-up.
Everything is bigger and better at a US sporting event. It’s not a game, but a show. It’s hotdogs and beer, half-time shows and mascots. It’s something everyone should see.
This is fraught with danger. Sure, from the outside US politics might seem crazy. It might seem like the idea of electing a reality TV star with no political experience to the highest office in the land is a bad one. It might appear that gun violence is a problem in the US, and the obvious thing to do would be to get rid of some of those guns. You might think people shouldn’t have to wait until the age of 21 to have a drink. You could argue that the death penalty is barbaric.
Most Americans would defend your right to hold those opinions. However, that doesn’t mean they want to hear them from you. The thing to bear in mind in the US is that you really don’t know who you’re talking to. You might assume the nice people you just met at a bar – and you will meet plenty of nice people in bars – will hold the same political opinions as you. But there’s no guarantee.
Our advice: skip the political chat. You’re not out there to change hearts and minds, you’re out there to see and listen and experience and enjoy. Avoid those awkward moments when you suddenly realise your new mate probably wears a “Make America Great Again” cap.
Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read all the articles in Ben's "One Thing" series here.
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