Top-50 Places to Call Home (For Sports Entertainment)
Everyone loves a good list of top things, especially when we can relate to them. That’s why list blogs like the Top-10 sports movies, Top-25 game day snacks, or the one you are currently reading work. We all love sports (Why else would you be reading this?), we all watch movies and we all shovel down gobs of greasy lard. Most of us, actually, far too frequently.
As most of you know, my wife and I live near Tacoma, Washington. And just about everyone knows how critical I am of the state and it’s sports scene, or lack there of. We’ve been talking lately of places we would like to move, so I got to thinking; if I could move to any state, based on sports entertainment, where would I go?
But I couldn’t stop at just one, so I made a list.
The guidelines were simple. I made my choices based on the potential levels of entertainment from professional teams, major NCAA teams, historical sites, and fan bases, along with the usual suspects: weather, food and other sources of entertainment.
So take a deep breath, grab a beer and some curly fries and hold on tight. Because here we go.
From worst to first, ladies and gentlemen… your 50 states.
I’m not sure Alaska offers anything desirable whatsoever, in terms of calling it home. Well other than cutting its residents a $3,269 check to stick around. Which is great, until you realize you live in a place with only three hours of daylight or darkness, depending on the season.
There aren’t any significant pro or college teams and since it can snow in nine out of twelve months, good luck playing any yourself outdoors. I’ll pass thanks.
48.) North Dakota
As Dan Miller recently drove through North Dakota on his cross-country drive from Washington to his new home in Ohio, he sent me this text message…
“North Dakota < Hell”
I quickly typed something back to the tune of, “Wow really, it’s that bad?” He responded,
“At least there are people in Hell.”
North Dakota: Making people statewide long for Hell since 1889.
47.) South Dakota
My Dad’s side of the family is from Arkansas. No offense to those who live there, but most of it is offensive. That’s it. That’s the joke.
(Trying to figure out a way to tie in the Wayne’s World, “Hi. I’m in Delaware.” reference…)
(Hey, that will work!)
There isn’t anything in particular about Wyoming that is any more appealing than those states below it on this list. So why is it ranked above six others? Because it straddles Utah and Colorado.
For the same reasons as Wyoming, only add Nevada, Washington and Oregon to its list of extremities as well.
38.) New Mexico
I’m a sucker for warm weather and Mexican food. Wait, isn’t this supposed to be about sports?
Well they did have Reggie Theus at New Mexico State University a few years ago. Whoops… that wasn’t a good thing. My bad.
(This is awkward.)
36.) Rhode Island
35.) New Hampshire
All the insignificant east coast states fire off one after another. Vermont has it made, bordering mega sports metropolises, New York and Massachusetts. Sometimes it pays to be second in line.
32.) South Carolina
(Wheels around in swivel chair.)
(Hands folded on desk, index fingers tapping together…)
(Briiiing… Briiiing… Briiiing…)
“This here’s the Head Ball Coach.”
“That’s right, I am a tool. How did you know?”
31.) West Virginia
28.) New Jersey
New Yorkers look down at New Jersey the same way they would a younger step-sibling who just passed gas at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Jersey may be second class, but it does have a fair amount to offer the sports fan.
The Nets, — at least until they move to Brooklyn — Devils and Atlantic City: the Vegas of the East.
“You know what always cheers me up?”
“No what’s that?”
“Rolled up aces over kings. Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off of them. Playing all-night high-limit Hold’em at the Taj, ‘Where the sand turns to gold.’ Stacks and towers of checks I can’t even see over.”
“**** it, let’s go.”
“Don’t tease me…”
“Let’s play some cards.”
Not bad, Jersey. Not bad at all.
I am not a fan of Oregon. Or the Ducks and their never ending Phil Knight uniform combinations, which scream, “Look at me! I’m four years old and just dressed myself for the first time!”
“Alright, boys, this is the last shot we got! We’re gonna run the picket fence at ’em! Jimmy, you’re solo right! Everett, Merle should be open on the other side of that fence! Now, boys, don’t get caught watchin’ the paint dry!”
Yeah… No. 25 is the right spot for the Hoosiers state.
A couple of years ago I lived in a house with four friends in San Diego. One of our roommates was a huge Ohio State fan. He would go back east every Christmas to visit his parents. The running joke became that he would come back one January only to find his room plastered in Wolverine blue and gold, accompanied by painted logos and Fat Heads.
We never did it and I regret it every time I see the guy.
A better sports region than one might guess. It has the Jazz, BYU and University of Utah football, as well as a great snowboarding and skiing culture.
And tons of hot Mormon girls.
Ever heard of Johnny Tsunami?
I didn’t think so!
But you have heard of Jim Calhoun. Husky basketball is enormous on the East coast. That can’t be stated strongly enough.
I am certainly not a cold weather guy, but in throwing three straight snow states on the board, well, you’ve got to respect it.
Colorado features Denver, which is home to the Broncos, Rockies and Coors.
Crap… I should penalize them for that last one. Send ’em back four states.
College. Football. Rules.
Oh yeah, and they poached Kevin Durant from Seattle.
Here is where I really break this down for you. Let’s go to Dragline and Cool Hand Luke for the commentary:
Dragline: “Nothin’. A handful of nothin’. You stupid mullet head. He beat you with nothin’. Just like today when he kept comin’ back at me – with nothin’.”
Luke: “Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”
That about sums it up for Washington’s sports. What do they have to offer? The Mariners? The Seahawks? The Storm?
The Space Needle? The Experience Music Project? Rain?
It’s just not working for me, Washington. And yet, somehow the drizzling state of gloom keeps pulling it off. They insist on continuing to act like a major sports market.
In reality, the area is more like a welterweight, but it keeps exchanging punches with the big boys, masquerading as a heavyweight and I do not get how it continues to work. Smoke and mirrors, boys. Smoke and mirrors.
But, I have to hand it to you Washington, as much as I wanted to push you out of the Top-20, you made the cut.
King’s to you.
17.) North Carolina
UNC and Duke basketball combine as the heart of the ACC. Important? Yes. Attending a game at Chapel Hill or Cameron Indoor Stadium would be a priceless experience.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like them. Either of them.
Dan Miller would be proud. But I didn’t put Ohio at the uno-cinco (Gosh, I loathe Chad Johnson/ Ochocinco for not knowing Spanish.) for him.
The NFL Hall of Fame, the Indians, Browns and the Cavs? Hmm, some pretty good reasons.
Oh and I don’t know about you, but I’d sure love to flee to The Cleve.
Great college basketball and the Kentucky Derby? Good enough for me.
Louisiana has a lot to offer the typical sports fan: Chris Paul and the Hornets, Drew Brees and the freakishly offense-ive Saints and SEC football with LSU.
But it doesn’t end there. Add incredibly spicy foods, world class live jazz and Marti Gras and well, you find yourself with a winner.
Louisiana kicks off the Top-10 and breaks us into the states I would love to live whether we add sports entertainment to the equation or not.
Home to the nation’s top prep football programs, a perennial BCS Championship contender in the Longhorns and two NFL teams.
Texas knows football.
But with the Rangers, Astros, Rockets, Mavericks and Stars, Texas doesn’t skimp on the side dish professional sports franchises either.
Seems a bit high for a state with no pro teams and just UNLV to claim on the NCAA end, doesn’t it? Not when Vegas is considered the Mecca for entertainment of any kind, including sports.
Vegas is home to some of the largest and best conventions in the world. Just ask Pete Rose.
Plus it holds the World Series of Poker, along with a bazillion other gambling games of choice.
If you can’t find a way to have a great time in Vegas, you’d better ditch your cards and deal yourself a new hand, because this one isn’t working for you.
Possibly the most loyal and supportive fan base in the nation. And rightly so, I know I sure wouldn’t mind watching Albert Pujols play every day.
New Englanders can be near suffocating to the rest of us, but you can’t argue with passion and Boston fans have it.
They also have history. Tons of it. Fenway Park tops nearly every fan’s list of ballparks to visit before they die. You can despise Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics fans all you want, but in the same breath you probably envy them as well.
And you should.
Time for the big guns…
The islands would rank much higher than five if we weren’t basing this list on sports entertainment value. As is, they offer the Pro Bowl — for the time being anyway — and a high octane Rainbow Warrior offense.
But aside from wonderful weather year round, in which one can play just about any outdoor sport imaginable, Hawaii nets the five-hole based on a single perk: the best surfing competitions in the world.
Which means the best surfers in the world.
Which means beaches, boards and bikinis.
Which means a great place to live. Let’s all move to Hawaii right now. Seriously. Drop your keyboard and let’s go. I’m game.
4.) New York
Unless you are a Yankees fan, you probably think I’m high. But I’m not… a Yankee fan… or high.
But I do think living in New York would be sweet. It may not be quite what it used to be, but Madison Square Garden is still a big deal. A really big deal. The Big Apple is the largest media market in America. NYC attracts more celebrities than any city in the world not named Los Angeles.
I’m not going to name the teams for you, you already know them.
The state does take a hit, taking the original Yankee Stadium out to pasture this past year, but at least it still has Cooperstown.
Plus you’d get to boo A-Rod. Sign me up, boys.
You really shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve already mentioned that I’m a sucker for warm weather and AZ has an extremely underrated sports scene.
The Suns have become a first class organization (except for all the draft picks they have sold) and the Cardinals are no longer the laughing stock of the NFL. They both have crazy fun players to watch, in Steve Nash and Larry Fitzgerald. Heck, even the D-Backs have a handful of exciting, young players. Plus, Arizona has something else to offer year round that most states can’t due to cold, nasty winter weather.
Golf, golf and more golf. I love it. What’s better than hitting a few dozen after work – in December?
So hop on the bandwagon and join me in Arizona. It may be mercury-boiling hot, but it sure beats frostbite.
I got good news… I’m putting you in my Fave Five.
This is real?
Yup. (Hug, pat pat…) You in baby!
That D-Wade T-Mobile commercial from last year’s Super Bowl may seem super annoying, but trust me, it is comic gold. You just have to play it on a non-stop repeat, like Jim Rome would with his flavor of the week sound clips, on his radio show.
I’m losing you buddy I’m driving through a tunnel…
You ain’t drivin’ through no tunnel!
Trust me, by the ninth or tenth time you will be cracking a smile. By the fifteenth you will be giggling more than that kid who tries ordering 99 tacos from Jack in the Box.
Either play better or call in sick. You like Popsicles?
Ok, I’m done. I swear.
Aside from Wade, Florida is No. 2 for all the reasons you can guess…
That’s all you’ve got? Really?
(Not that it wouldn’t be enough by itself…)
Also netting high scores are Evan Longoria and the rest of the Rays, the Dolphins, Bucs, Magic, Marlins (You have to love Hanley.) and the rest of the Heat.
Not to mention the Gators, Hurricanes and the pile of bones which used to be the Seminoles. Remember when Bobby Bowden was the Pete Carrol of the south? I know, it’s tough, because they blow.
Florida’s sports culture is thriving, which is great because…
I need to come hang out with you, cause I am really bored.
(Ok, so I lied. Get over it.)
(And watch the commercial again.)
You knew it. Your mom knew it. Your five year old cousin knew it. Even your yet to be born son knew it.
I’m as predictable as the Red Hot Chili Peppers writing a new song. I love California. You get it. Enough already.
But here’s the thing, I’m not just blindly California dreaming. I’ve lived in multiple areas of the state — the Central Valley, South Bay (L.A.) and San Diego — for most of my life. You can’t beat it. I promise.
The Golden State has the best combination or sports, weather, food, girls and night life features of any place in the world. I truly believe that.
Really, sports wise, only the Padres and Clippers muck it up, though even the Clips and their fan base have hope with the arrival of Blake Griffin. Ok, you can probably add the A’s to that list too. But when your state offers the Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, Giants, 49ers, Chargers, Warriors, Sharks, Kings, Ducks, and the Raiders, – I’m talking about the fans, not the team. Though the fans are nuts, in both good and bad ways. In fact I’m probably pimping them right now just so one of them doesn’t hunt me down next time I’m visiting the Bay Area. – I think you can overcome a few eyesores.
(I feel like I’m out of breath after that list.)
For me nothing can top the SoCal cuisine, but then again, on my list it’s carne asada and then everything else. And the Pacific Ocean isn’t bad either.
Plus at least for this season, L.A. fans still have Vin Scully.
(Hold on… — click, type, type, type, click, type, click — I’m just finishing something.)
(Ah, there we go… one ticket to LAX.)
Your winner and still champion, California.
Take a bow.