Summer Olympics (every four years in a different city). With 10,000-plus athletes from 200 nations, this is the world's biggest party (did I mention the 130,000 condoms they give to the athletes?). The host city is almost always worth the trip itself (well, maybe not Atlanta) but the 17 days of exhilarating sporting performances will provide memories that will last long after the $24 souvenir T-shirt has faded. Guaranteed, you will see something that makes you proud to be human and call yourself a citizen not of one specific country but a citizen of the world.
World Cup (every four years in a different country). Look, Americans shouldn't feel guilty about not liking soccer any more than we should for not using the metric system. But whether you're a fanatic about the sport (a lot of the world) or are bored by it (the U.S and Canada, Down Under, and the Coalition of the Unwilling), we can all appreciate a huge international party filled with fans so passionate they set themselves on fire to inspire their team before the game (as opposed, say, to Detroit fans, who set others on fire after the game). Look at it this way: The World Cup was such a spectacle last summer that Germany was actually afraid it would run out of beer. And if a team actually scores, so much the better!
Boston Marathon (April, Boston). The oldest marathon and still the best. You may not be able to qualify to run in it, but you can certainly join the thousands lining the route to cheer on all the runners with the traditional words that have become synonymous with the race: "Yankees Suck!"
The Masters (April, Augusta, Ga.). You should get down on your knees at Amen Corner if you're able to get the toughest ticket in American sports. Then get behind Tiger or Phil and follow him all 18 holes -- it won't be difficult, the day will feel so sublime you'll practically float above the azaleas and dogwoods.
Tour de France mountain stage (July in various rotating cities in France). Can you trot around the bases with Barry Bonds? Dive into the end zone with LaDainian Tomlinson? Go to the hoop with LeBron? Of course not. But you can run alongside the best cyclists in the world as they struggle up the remaining agonizing kilometers of a mountain stage. It's an all-day party (and frequently all-night as well) set among spectacular Alps and Pyrenees scenery, and best of all, you can fill your water bottle with a great French wine or Belgian beer (or, if you're competing, something stronger).
What's yours? Post your choices at the Comments section.
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