Sports are nothing without the fans. Dick Young, one of America's pioneering sportswriters of the 20th century, said it best: "Fans are the only ones who really care. There are no free-agent fans." Of course, some fans care more than others, which is why you'll never see the Florida Marlins, for example, mentioned among the teams with the most ardent support in baseball. These American (and one Canadian, or Canadien) teams — college and pro — have the most loyal and unruly followings, each of which demonstrates its love by singing, chanting, screaming and cursing its team to victory on a regular basis.
Modest in size compared to Rupp Arena or the Carrier Dome, Cameron Indoor Stadium only seats the best and the brightest of college basketball fans. Their chants through the years have been legendary stuff — for example, in the early '80s, the Cameron Crazies chanted "Freeze! Police!" as recently arrested Adrian Branch of the Maryland Terrapins attempted free throws. They can get pretty offensive too, but Coach K typically does an okay job of keeping them in check.
Fair or unfair, Raiders fans are perceived as a group of ex cons and rabble-rousers who attend games to release their inner demons, in some cases resulting in fights with opposing fans or worse, with each other. The infamous Black Hole is a scary, scary place consisting of costumed madmen especially hostile to Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers fans. Outsiders aren't advised to venture in — the consequences can be dark.
Eagles fans define unruly. Games at Lincoln Financial Field are never mundane. As you probably already know, they've booed Santa Claus and cheered when Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury. Their hatred for their own players sometimes surpasses their hatred for opposing players. You won't find a more emotionally invested fanbase in sports.
The coining of "Red Sox Nation," its numerous members who've never even been to Boston, and the making of Fever Pitch serve as proof that the glorification of Boston's fanbase is a tad out of control. Nevertheless, can you imagine any group of fans being more jubilant after a championship than Sox fans were after merely winning the ALCS in 2004?
Saturday Night in Death (Deaf) Valley is one of college football's most unique traditions. After a day of liquoring up while partaking in the best tailgating in the land, fans pack Tiger Stadium, expending the rest of their day's energy on screaming at the opposing team. During the LSU-Auburn game in 1988, the crowd's reaction to LSU's game-winning touchdown was detected by the seismograph at the campus's geosciences building, one of the rare occasions in which Louisiana has felt the earth move.
A yearly East-West matchup in the SEC, the Florida-LSU rivalry has emerged as one of college football's most captivating in recent years, as the teams have routinely ranked at the top of the conference, especially in the noise department. The Swamp's enclosed field and steep stands create perhaps college football's most intimidating environment. Whether you're LSU or FSU, wins are hard to come by for opposing teams in Gainesville.
There were doubts as to whether Oklahoma City was major league-ready when the Sonics, a team that already had a great fanbase in Seattle, moved south. Not only has it proven that it deserves the Thunder, but it unquestionably has the most enthusiastic fans in the NBA. When they're not decked out in blue while standing at the Ford Center, they're meeting and greeting their team at the airport. In just a few short years, Thunder basketball has become engrained in the culture of a city residing in a football-infatuated state.
It's essentially an SEC environment, just farther north. Nittany Lions fans' true passion is football, which is evidenced by the abundant tailgating, whiteouts and general rowdiness of the S-Zone. Beaver Stadium is at its best when Zombie Nation's Kernkraft 400 is blaring through the loudspeakers after a big play, prompting fans to jump around and scream proudly: "WE ARE PENN STATE."
No team moves the meter in New York like the Yankees. Notoriously arrogant — much like former boss George Steinbrenner — fans expect a World Series title every year, and anything less is a massive disappointment. Few stadiums house more knowledgeable fans, which makes Brian Cashman's job incredibly difficult.
Packers fans, or cheeseheads, actually own the team, and thus truly live and die with the results on Sunday afternoons. But, during good times or bad, they stick by the green and gold — the Packers have sold out every game since 1960, and have a waiting list that's larger than the capacity of Lambeau, meaning that if you apply now, you'd have to wait centuries before having the privilege of embracing a Lambeau leap.
With a name and color combination the represents the area's distinct French Canadian culture, the Canadiens are a source of regional pride for their fans. In a nation that's a hockey hotbed — see Canucks' fans reactions after losing the Cup — Montreal has consistently stood out the most. Even though they're accustomed to watching winners, their next Stanley Cup victory could spell the end of their fine city.
Utahans are some of the friendliest people on Earth, except when they congregate at EnergySolutions Arena. Aside from producing unbearably loud noise akin to jump jet taking off, they've been known to hurl projectiles onto the court during playoff games, and most infamously, they mercilessly and tastelessly taunted former Jazz point guard Derek Fisher for rejoining the Lakers so his daughter could receive appropriate treatment in Los Angeles for retinoblastoma. They make opposing players miserable.
Lambeau Field and Arrowhead Stadium both feature college-like atmospheres. But, perhaps because of their location in flyover country, their market's ranking as the sixth smallest in the NFL, or their lack of recent success, the Chiefs don't receive enough credit for their fanatical fans. From 1996 to 2006, for example, only the Washington Redskins, which reside in a much larger market, drew more fans.
Only the lesser known Dee Glen Smith Spectrum rivals Cameron Indoor Stadium when it comes to elite college basketball atmospheres. Their knack for singling out a player from an opposing team and taunting him throughout the game gives the Aggies a distinct advantage over their opponents. Last season, 27-year-old, 300-pound senior Bill Sproat, also known as Wild Bill, gained notoriety for his bizarre costumes and behavior, a standard to which Aggies fans now aspire.
One of the Original Six NHL teams, Blackhawks fandom goes back generations for the average Chicagoan. Before the 2010 Stanley Cup title, they somewhat resembled Red Sox fans prior to 2004 — loyal yet lovable losers, though the 49-year drought wasn't quite comparable to the 86-year drought. The city's devotion manifested after the conclusion of Game 6, when a mass celebration ensued.
I Just Came Back From The Final Four In San Antonio, And It Was Incredible!
Back in March, our friends at Buick (an official sponsor of the NCAA) invited us to take part in their March Madness Buick Bracketball Challenge, pitting me against a group of my peers as we battled it out for bragging rights… and a trip for two to the Final Four!
Talk about some high-stakes! According to the rules, whoever managed to outlast any bracket busters and secure a top spot on the leaderboard would win a trip to San Antonio for the Final Four games, complete with tickets, a hotel room, and a Buick loaner to get around town.
The only problem? I’ve never actually participated in a March Madness bracket before, so my odds were slim to none. But I decided to give it a shot anyway, going with some of my favorite teams, and picking my beloved Villanova for the win.
Virginia’s first-round upset by UMBC was a HUGE blow to me (and pretty much everyone else), as I had them facing off against Villanova in the end. But amazingly enough, my other picks performed much better, and I was holding steady in the top 5 for much of the series.
After the Elite 8, I got an e-mail that was a total game-changer – “You’ve landed yourself a top spot in the Buick Bracketball Challenge leaderboard and will be headed, along with a guest, to San Antonio for the Final Four games next weekend on behalf of Buick!”
My jaw about hit the floor. I was going to the Final Four!
Buick was awesome, hooking us up with some incredible seats for the games (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was actually sitting in the same section as us, only MUCH closer to the court), a hotel room within walking distance of the Alamodome, and a Buick Enclave to get around town.
San Antonio is such a cool town, and we made the most of our time there exploring the city. The guy sitting next to us on our flight suggested that we check out The Guenther House for breakfast. The food was amazing (their waffles are like nothing you’ve ever had before), and it’s a really unique venue, an old flour mill from the 1800s.
After breakfast, we made our way downtown to the Riverwalk for the Rally on the River, where the team bands took to the water for a floating Pep Rally. People’s excitement levels were off the charts, it was really something to witness. We walked the length of the Riverwalk, taking in the sights and just people watching..
Of course, we had to visit The Alamo (no sign of Pee-Wee’s missing bike), which was located right down the street from our hotel. As the day went on, it got pretty warm, so we decided to escape the heat and check out Fan Fest. There were tons of cool exhibits here, and Buick had a huge activation as well, complete with a basketball court, a bunch of vehicles on display, and their Fandom University.
Before long, it was time for us to make our way to the Alamodome for the first two games, and it was a memorable experience for sure. Devoted fans were out in full force rooting on their teams, and the action on the court was intense. Michigan put an end to Loyola’s Cinderella story, and Villanova was on fire, making short work of Kansas with 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
Monday night’s game was one for the record books, with Villanova decimating Michigan and taking home the win with a score of 79-62. ‘Nova was on fire all night, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this amazing weekend.
Thanks again to Buick for an incredible experience, it’s one I won’t soon forget!
Harry Kane Achieves The Century
Harry Kane is comfortably one of the best strikers in world football right now. He has started this season in the rich vein of form that he finished the last, and so far the 24 year old has hit 31 goals in 32 games in all competitions. It’s set to be another hugely impressive campaign for the 24 year old Spurs striker, as Kane prepares to feature for England at the World Cup in Russia in the summer; and it’s also very likely that he will skipper the Three Lions too.
You could say that this has been a year to remember for Kane for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about his surpassing Alan Shearer’s record for scoring the most Premier League goals in a calendar year (36) when he took his tally in 2017 to 39, after a superb hat trick against Southampton in a 5-2 victory for Spurs. Kane had another target in mind, the Premier League 100 club.
Kane headed into the game at Anfield knowing that he only needed one goal to reach the landmark of 100 Premier League goals. While Spurs had beaten Manchester United last time out, Kane drew a blank in front of goal, but he wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity again, or was he? Spurs were actually behind in the game through Kane’s main rival for the Premier League golden boot, Mohamed Salah, before Victor Wanyama got them back on level terms with a powerful effort from distance. In the 87th minute, Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius was adjudged to have fouled Kane, with Spurs awarded a penalty as a result.
This was the moment, it was Kane to take the spot kick to score his 100th Premier League goal but he remarkably missed it, with Karius saving it. Salah then added a second for Liverpool just a few minutes later, and it looked like Kane’s day would be put on hold once again, before Spurs were awarded another penalty. The Spurs striker made no mistake this time, equalizing for Tottenham to make it 2-2 and scoring his 100th Premier League goal in the process. He managed to hit 100 in just 136 games, with only Alan Shearer completing the feat quicker (124).
Kane recently overtook Teddy Sheringham to become the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer for Spurs and he’s the only likely candidate to break Alan Shearer’s all time Premier League goals record too. He currently stands at 24th on the list with 100 alongside Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and has 160 more goals to score to equal Shearer’s record that has looked unbeatable at times. Anyone who has the feeling that Kane can go on to squash a few more records, should have a look at the betting.com online betting news site, to ensure you get the best odds and bonuses on offer.
The best chance of someone equaling it and then surpassing it rests with Harry Kane. He’s the right age at 24 and still has plenty of time to do so. He’s scoring goals for fun and you could even say that he hasn’t even hit his peak yet. If he continues as he is now, he will undoubtedly become the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer within the next few seasons.
The Grand National: The Race That Stops A Nation
There are many big horse racing meetings and races in the UK, but one race stands above all the others as the race where everyone places a bet, and everyone stops to watch it. That race is the Grand National, an event that takes place in April (the 2018 edition of this fantastic contest will take place on April 14th) so mark that day in your calendar as one to remember.
The build up to this unique test for horses is huge, and there are many trial races where horses will battle it out against each other to prove they are worthy of taking their place in the 40 strong field that will head to post on the day of the race. What makes the Grand National unique is the challenge of both the distance and the fences that require jumping.
The fences that the horses jump are extremely unique, and they require a special horse to just get around the course safely, let alone win the race. Then, there is the test of the distance, which is four miles, two and a half furlongs, a huge test of stamina and one that certainly favors the bravest horses and jockeys out there.
Betting on the Grand National is huge, and many people will place their bets either on the day of the race or well in advance. People who only bet once a year will turn out in force to head to their local bookmaker and place their bets, before sitting together as a family to watch the fantastic spectacle live on TV. Oddschecker has many free bet offers for the Grand National available already and many people will have already placed their bets on the race, such is the importance of the event.
The favorite for the race right now is Blaklion, a horse who finished 4th in last season’s race. That experience will have done him well, and he has proven that he has the ability and heart to jump around these fences not only once, but twice before. That puts him in pole position and he looks to have a great chance of running well in the race.
Last year’s winner, One For Arthur, will unfortunately not try to repeat his heroics of last season as he has been ruled out of the race due to injury, leaving the door open for a new champion.