In the summers of 2015 and 2016, I worked and lived in many towns and cities across the USA, mostly around the city of Denver, Colorado. It's fair to say that the country is fantastic, and Denver itself is probably now my favourite city in the world.
During my time I travelled across 9 states, met many people, taught many kids how to play real football, but I also got to immerse myself in American culture, and spectate multiple sporting events in the country.
The other big cities I visited during my total 6 months in the country, were Los Angeles, California, and Lincoln, Nebraska. In this blog I'll be discussing how the cities were all different from one another, and how sports mattered to city, and the locals, and how they vary from each another.
Denver is the capital of Colorado, and has a metro population of over 2,800,000. Famously situated a mile above sea level, and located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Many Olympic teams travel to the region to train at altitude in preparation for many track and cycling events, and the locals love their sports too. In my travel I came across adults and children who participated in a multitude of sports.
Denver is the perfect area for all kinds of sports. In the summer, both individual sports like running and cycling, and also the usual team sports are all popular. In the winter months things change up, as temperatures drop below freezing, and the people start to hit the slopes of one of many ski resorts, right on their doorsteps.
During my few months in Denver I only watched 2 different professional sports live, however the amount I witnessed in recreational participants was phenomenal.
Of course I had to watch some MLS action while over there, especially when Steven Gerrard and LA Galaxy were visiting to face-off against the Colorado Rapids.
I would go on to watch 2 games at The Dick's Sporting Goods Stadium, and what shocked me most at first was the variety of people attending the game. Many fans attending games around Europe tend to be deep rooted supporters of the club, however many of those attending the Colorado Rapids games were attending just for an evening out, or something to do.
Of course what they call Soccer, isn't the states number one sport, but having lived within the country for a total of 6 months, I learnt this was a norm against many of the sports.
Yes, with leagues like the NFL, NHL and NBA, supporters attending those games do tend to be deeply tied towards the team, however they still enjoy the match or game, as an event itself. Tailgating is a prime example of this.
Another sport I caught live action of was baseball. I won't lie, it wasn't my most enjoyable sporting experience.
For me the sport was too slow, and despite it ending up being one of the highest scoring games of the season, I didn't get an adrenaline rush. As always though, the Americans put on a show. I mean who doesn't love seeing mascots dressed up as toothpaste racing each other?
My stay in Denver wouldn't be completed without visiting the Sport's Authority Field Stadium, home of the NFL's Denver Broncos, and also professional lacrosse team, Denver Outlaws.
Opening in 2001, the stadium has a capacity of just over 76,000. The stadiums itself is magnificent, and being a Denver Broncos supporter, I'd love to return in the future to witness a Denver Broncos game live.
In my time working in America, I got one week off to go travel around the country as I pleased. One place I had to visit. Los Angeles.
Los Angeles felt like a completely different country to that of Denver. But one thing that wasn't different, was a love for sport.
The city of Los Angeles is now home to at least one team in every major sport within the country. With the MLS, NBA and NFL both having two teams in the city.
I once again only got to witness one of the sports live, and you probably guessed it, I went to go watch Steven Gerrard play again.
Compared to the games I had attended in Colorado, the atmosphere in the StubHub Centre for a game between LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps was electric. There were two main supporters groups I picked out in the crowd: One a mass of Hispanic supporters behind one goal, and what looked to be more European and predominantly English supporters located at the other end of the stadium. Me and those I travelled with decided to find space among the former group.
The cultural mix of the city, gives the atmosphere of sporting events more of a European or South American feel, it's fair to say though, we had no idea what they were saying for any of the chants, they did seem rather catchy however.
I couldn't travel to LA without visiting all of its tourist hotspots and famous landmarks, however with only a week to do so, I never had a chance. If ever visiting LA, I'd advise taking an open top bus tour, you'll find no end of suppliers on the streets surrounding Hollywood. You will be taken around Beverley Hills to see some A-List celebrities houses, down famous roads such as Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, and having played lots of GTA 5 in the past, a lot of it looked rather familiar.
One final things I had to do while in LA was visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica, and what fantastic places they are. Venice Beach offers many amazing street performers, and I often found myself standing amongst a crowd for 20 minutes watching.
A highlight of my stay in LA, wasn't spectating any performance or sport, but actually playing a sport itself. Venice Beach is famous for having basketball courts lined up next to its beaches, it would be rude to not use them.
Lincoln, Nebraska was the final major city I got to spend time working and living in, and once again, much different to that of Los Angeles and Denver. Lincoln is much smaller than the other two cities, with a metro population of just over 325,000.
The biggest sporting team in the city isn't even a professional one, it's the University of Nebraska's football team, also known as the Cornhuskers.
But what if I told you that this college football team had sold out 361 consecutive home games, dating back to 1962, you'd probably think, yeah that's cool, I guess they have a small stadium...
But no. The Memorial Stadium where the Nebraska Cornhuskers play can seat over 85,000 spectators. I'd like to see any sporting team at any level achieve a record such as this.
Unfortunately once again I wouldn't get to witness an actual live game in the stadium, but once more, it would be something I'd love to do. Here's what the stadium looks like on game day.
Spectating sports in America are completely different to that of spectating them in England and across Europe. Also the difference between cities within the country are also great.
Denver, Lincoln and Los Angeles are all fantastic cities, and I'd advise anybody to go visit them, especially if you are into your sports, as these three cities love them.
In the future we hope to expand our trips across to America, and some of these cities are prime destinations for some truly fantastic trips. Keep an eye on our available destinations by clicking here.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading about these three cities and how sports and sport spectator-ship varies across the country. In the future I may write blogs on the cities, but more in depth about the attractions, events and things you must do within them.
Also, leave comments below on your American sporting experiences, or just experiences in general, and don't forget to leave a like and share with your friends and family.
If you would like more information on the cities of Los Angeles, Denver and Lincoln. You can click on any of the the links to the respected Official City travel and tourism website.
Discover Los Angeles Official Website
Visit Denver Official Website
Visit Lincoln, Nebraska Official Website