Last year a movie featuring actors Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson told the story of their taking a final road trip. Titled “The Bucket List,” the film was based on the premise that there were certain things the two men wanted to make sure they accomplished after they learned they had only a finite time to live. Putting together that type of list is not a new concept, and the process of doing so can serve as fodder for interesting conversations between people, both healthy and otherwise.
Sports fans have compiled lists, many of them featuring major events, or sites, that they feel must be part of any true fan’s portfolio. Each major sport, it seems, has a signature event such as the Superbowl, Indianapolis 500 or the NCAA Final Four; an iconic stadium, like Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field; or combination that leads fans to plan vacations, schedule month-long roadtrips and buy tickets years in advance in order to fill out their own list. Some events stand on their own without the benefits of leagues or seasons — events like the Kentucky Derby or the Olympics.
In the world of golf there is a venue, Royal St. Andrews, and an event, The Masters, that generally make it onto the list. I’ve had the privilege of attending one — The 2003 Masters — where the course, the patrons, and all the surrounding sights and sounds really do exceed expectations. The green of the fairways and rough, the color of the blooming azaleas, the patient and respectful galleries cannot be done justice on television.
Texans have the opportunity to create their own “bucket lists” and probably cover a great deal of what would be on a national fan’s list. We have four annual PGA Tour stops in the state, as well as two NFL teams, two Major League Baseball teams, three NBA teams and a host of outstanding major college teams. Houston played host to the Super Bowl a few years ago and Arlington will do so in a couple years. San Antonio has hosted a number of NCAA Final Fours (not to mention NBA Finals), including last year’s national championship.
Although the once-pronounced “Eighth Wonder of the World” is no longer home to a professional sports team, the Houston Astrodome does still host events. The Cowboys are in their final season at Texas Stadium, home of the field-sized hole that allows God to “watch his favorite team.” There are also historic stadiums and fields, like Fort Worth’s LaGrave Field which originally opened in 1926 and has seen many Hall of Famers on its basepaths. This weekend another Fort Worth landmark, Colonial Country Club, will host the PGA Tour’s oldest tournament to be played at the same course when the top players tee off in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Thursday.
Many of us will never have the opportunity to make it all the way through our sports wish list — or museum list, live performance list, state/national park list — or whatever your own list might include. In some ways I think that the fun of having such a list lies mostly in its creation, in the conversations among friends with similar interests. Those conversations are sure to be lively, with agreements and disagreements — but good conversations none-the-less.
And although I think that actually achieving everything on a list might bring a sense of letdown after the initial euphoria of completion dies away, I also think that with each step toward that completion, comes the realization of a dream. In the movie, Nicholson and Freeman’s characters were given only a few months to live before they began working toward compiling — much less fulfilling — theirs. I’ve got one, and I hope that I’m able to make some more progress on mine before that situation arises.
So, how are you doing on your list?
Bill Crist is associate publisher and general manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesday. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.