My name is Steve Cram, and I'm a live sports addict.
Sure, this is probably not news to anyone who actually reads my blog ever – I am taking a year off to slowly make my way towards the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June – but it is fair to say its bigger than any one sport.
With friends at the Socceroos second last qualifier Vs Jordan
With 90,000 other people watching Liverpool
Recently though, I've combined live sport with my other major addiction, travel and things have started to get out of hand. In the last few years I've been lucky enough to attend sporting events in countries all over the world. I attended a Premier League Football game in London as well as an international friendly in Edinburgh. I've seen cricket in India, (ice) hockey in the Czech Republic and basketball in Lithuania, as well as being fortunate enough to work at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The Olympics rings at Whistler Village, 2010
Its in the US and Canada though that I've attended the most live sporting events. Living in Canada one soon learns that, much like Aussie Rules Football in Australia, if you're not into hockey, you're considered something of an outcast. Luckily its a great sport and I became a big fan almost straight away. I also recently attended my first NFL game, getting to see the New York Giants . Sitting in that crowd of 80,000 people you could see that, while the world game is at the top of the pile in most countries, in the USA, their own version of football is king.
My first NFL game, meaning I've been to all four major league sports in North America
Where my addiction is most obvious though, is still with basketball. Since attending my first NBA game in New York City at Madison Square Garden in 2009, I've been to 21 more games. I don't even want to start to think about how much money I've spent on tickets as well as overpriced food and beer. But its been worth it.
Of the 22 NBA games I've been to, eight have been at the ACC to watch the Raptors
The most recent game I attended saw the two time defending champion Miami Heat hosting the Charlotte Bobcats. I was a bit late getting to the stadium and the cheapest walk up ticket available was for $108. Its time like this I really have to tell myself I'm here for a good time not a long time. The game turned out to be an absolute classic with the crowd among the loudest I've ever heard. Its just that kind of atmosphere that keeps me going from city to city watching NBA games – I've now been to games in 15 of the league's 29 stadiums and seen 23 of the 30 teams play. I sure don't want to pay $108 each time to go to a game, but I've never regretted it when I have.
Miami Heat crowd goes nuts at Chris Bosh hits his third straight three
A week or so ago I was lucky enough to meet former Australian men's basketball head coach Brett Brown in a cafe in Orlando. Brown has this season taken over the head coaching role at the Philadelphia 76ers and was in town for his team's game against the Magic. Having an Australian connection has certainly helped keep my love of the NBA going, and earlier on this trip I was able to see Brown coach against the San Antonio Spurs, featuring two Aussie players - Patty Mills and Aron Baynes.
Supporting the Aussies in the NBA
While basketball is my first love, my attention now turns back to the world game, with the final draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil coming up this weekend. The draw will decide which three teams Australia has to face in the group stage and will soon lead to deciding when and where these games will be played. My aim is to get to all three of the Socceroos group matches, so this weekend is a very important one for deciding where I will be in June.
I'm hoping to see Australia grouped with Switzerland, Algeria and Bosnia - a group that I think will make it repetitively easy to get tickets - but I'm just happy for the next stage of the event to be coming up.
Who else is sweating on the World Cup Draw? Who do you want to see Australia (or your country) be drawn against?