As we enter the first weekend of both the NHL and NBA playoffs, it’s the perfect time to hit the bars with friends to cheer on your favorite teams.
While we would all love to go to every single one of our favorite team’s home games, monetary constraints restrain us from making this dream a reality. Although staying in and watching the hometown squad lace em’ up seems appealing, it gets boring real quick. Let’s be honest; if the game becomes a blowout by the 4th inning, you’re scrolling Twitter or the channel guide for a secondary option.
No, what the average sports fan wants needs is to watch their favorite team compete in meaningful games in the company of other fans who they may or may not know. A place where entrance is free and the beers are less than $10 a piece– the local watering hole. That’s why it’s time to break down which sports’ playoffs are the best to watch in the company of others at the bar.
*For the purpose of these rankings, the Super Bowl is not included as a part of the playoffs. In my opinion, it is an absolute bonkers move to watch the Big Game anywhere other than in a living room with your closest friends/family. If anybody knows someone who watches the Lombardi trophy transfer from the commissioner’s hands to the winning team’s coach’s hands while sitting at a sports bar, please remove their fan card.
Note: I’ve also never watched a soccer match at a bar, but I’ve heard that is an insane atmosphere. Since I’ve never done it, I can’t rank it. But I will take your word for it.
Maybe it’s because the New York area hasn’t sniffed a chance at a title since the early 2000’s when Jason Kidd was running the show, but watching basketball at a bar just doesn’t do it for me. It could also be the fact that the first round – and in some cases the second round – of the NBA playoffs is a formality. Sub-.500 teams going up against juggernauts in the first round does not make for appealing television. Look away for a second and you miss the dunk of the night. Throw in the fact that most of the time, the score is meaningless towards the outcome of the game until midway through the 4th quarter, and you’ve got a recipe for the 4th spot on this list.
I think we all saw this one coming. Baseball is best experienced at the ballpark. While the beers are cheaper and the food is more traditional at your local sports bar, nothing beats the sights, sounds, and smells of a baseball stadium. Braving the elements in October alongside 40,000+ die-hard fans beats rubbing elbows in a bar with 100 or so locals any day of the week. Furthermore, the games seem to be more drawn out in October. This takes away from the overall experience of watching it in a public place that’s not the ballpark. To me, baseball isn’t inherently a “bar sport”, so it lands at number 3 on this list.
Surprised? Perhaps you should be, but hear me out. Yes, for the first two weekends of the NFL postseason, we get back-to-back games on back-to-back days. This makes it a prime bar-watching marathon-type experience. Some of my better sports bar memories revolve around these weekends in January. It is without a doubt enjoyable to watch the NFL playoffs in the company of others, but if there are blowouts (and there were plenty of them this year), you could find yourself asleep at the bar mid-way through the 3rd quarter. Again, because no one watches the biggest game in this sport at the bar, it simply cannot be number one.
The chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup is argued by many as the best playoffs of all the sports to watch. After experiencing the last few Rangers’ runs into the month of May, I can’t argue with their reasoning. The passion is just on another level. Not to say that other professional athletes don’t care, but NHL players just seem to want it more. From broken bones to missing teeth, the most these guys will miss is a line change or two. Don’t even get me started on the announcing either. If the bar you’re frequenting doesn’t have the sound cranked to the max when Doc Emrick is on the call, then inform them of the injustice they are doing to the ears of all their patrons. Hockey games just always seem to be close – especially in the playoffs. And with no shoot outs, these games could go on forever. So fill up that beer and buckle down for three overtimes of white knuckle action. When that final horn goes off, at least you’ll have a room full of friendly faces, no matter the outcome.
Disagree? Let me hear it in the comments.