When you’re travelling, it’s common to have the feeling that you’re an outsider looking into a society as you journey around. Yes, you can visit all the famous sights and attractions a city or country has to offer, but when you’re doing that, you’re going to be surrounded by a large majority of other people like you – tourists, not locals.
Just spending time in a country isn’t going to make you a local, no-one’s suggesting that. But how do you get to experience a little slice of life in a society? One easy way to get imbued in the local culture for a couple of hours is by going to watch live sporting events.
There are some obvious examples. Wimbledon, for instance, is one of the biggest sporting events on the UK calendar, and there’s something very traditionally English about a day at Wimbledon. Straw hats and summer dresses, strawberries and cream, Pimm’s and lemonade. It’s all part of the atmosphere of a day at the world’s biggest grass tennis event. Although the Wimbledon crowds come from all over the world, it’s still a great place to witness a truly English sporting event.
A visitor to Canada, on the other hand, could choose to go to an ice hockey match. Hockey has long been considered to be the national winter sport of Canada and many travellers to Canada will come from countries where ice hockey is a minor, niche sport. Team names such as the Vancouver Canucks, the Winnipeg Jets and the Montreal Canadiens are mysterious to the average visitor to Canada (unless they’re from the US and know all about the NHL). Going to an ice hockey game will definitely be an experience for any tourist, even though they might not understand all the rules of the game.
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Of course, part of the fun of watching a sports fixture is having a bet on which player or team you think will come out the winner. When you’re on the road, the easiest way to place bets is to go online at bet365 or others, where you can get a bet on pretty much any sporting event you can think of.
Another example of a sport that really has a solid identity with one country above all others is baseball. The game may be played in minor leagues around the world today, but no country has such a passion for it as the USA. Whichever part of the country you visit, you won’t be too far away from a baseball team and the possibility of going to watch a match. Again, like ice hockey, you may find that you don’t know what’s going on, but that won’t stop you soaking up the atmosphere, and enjoying traditional ballgame snacks such as peanuts, Cracker Jack and hotdogs while you’re there.
Wherever you’re planning on travelling to, don’t forget to include a local sports fixture on your itinerary. You’re likely to get more of a sense about local culture there than you do in the more typical tourist hotspots.