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Time to ditch AFL and turn to US sport?

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About Allen

Journalist and PR guy who loves living in Perth with its fabulous food and wine and wide open spaces.

There's something about the glitz and glamour of those big American sporting events that makes me feel like I should love them. Maybe I need to go and see what it's like in real life.

One of my sons is a huge Boston Celtics basketball fan and the other has a passing affection for grid iron. But even though my wife and I lived in the US for a while, there’s something about American sport that doesn’t click with me.

The New York Jets could be just one of the teams fans can go to see.

The New York Jets could be just one of the teams fans can go to see. Picture supplied.

I think it must have had something to do with a childhood in England and moving to Western Australia as a 14-year-old.

Back in the late 1960s, the television coverage of my football team, Tottenham Hotspur, and its inspirational forward and highest-ever goal-scorer with 266 goals, Jimmy Greaves, barely rated a mention in Perth.

I played a bit of rugby league at school and then switched to union, where I played for Western Suburbs - until a career in journalism working on a Sunday newspaper put paid to that.

I sneakily began to enjoy a bit of AFL and my Jimmy Greaves anorak was consigned to the cupboard.

Even a year or so working in Connecticut - where my wife and I joined New York Giants fans at a Stamford sports bar in 1991, to watch them win a tight Superbowl game against the Buffalo Bills - didn’t really inspire me to start following the game.

It’s kind of sad that I could never really come to grips with ice hockey, basketball, baseball or American football, because I love the enthusiasm of the US commentators and the vibe that comes from the fans at all the big matches.

There are many people out there who would thrill to go to the big American sports grounds to hear the sound of the organ, taste hot dogs with mustard and sauce, and join in with the roar of the crowd.

There’s no denying the spectacle of American sport. When even the half-time television commercials on the big screen at the Superbowl have people talking for days on end, there must be something special about it all. 

Former travel agent Shane Morup is on that side of the fence.

He’s spent so much time going to sporting events in the US that he decided to set up what he believes is Australia’s first escorted US sports tour company.

He reckons it’s the perfect way to combine his love of travel with basketball, grid iron, ice hockey and baseball. 

And I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should sign up for one of his tours to see what I’ve been missing.

His business, Escorted Sports Tours, has been set up to take groups of Australians wanting to witness their favourite sports live and encounter world-class athletes, showcased in the best stadiums and arenas – with the comfort of travelling with other Australians and an experienced guide.

The tours will go behind the scenes of some of the stadiums, show visitors iconic landmarks in each city, help navigate public transport like a local and introduce them to hidden gems.

Year-round tours are planned to visit the big games in ice hockey, basketball, American football and baseball.

While there are other businesses that sell tickets and accommodation, or run sporadic tours for one sport, Escorted Sports Tours will specialise in dedicated year-round travel to all the big games in all the major American sports and cities.

Escorted Sports Tours is AFTA and ATAS accredited and working with their dedicated booking agent, Our World Travel in East Perth.

Each tour will have a ‘coach’ to assist clients with anything they may need, 24 hours a day. They will be available to meet them before the trip so everyone gets to know one another.

Escorted Tour Professionals was first conceived on December 16, 2015, when Shane and his wife, Monique, were walking from a hotel in Washington DC to the Verizon Centre to watch the Washington Capitals ice hockey team.

“As we walked through the street, lined with trees adorned with fairy lights, I looked across to see how much Monique was loving the atmosphere and vibe of the city,” Shane said.

“This is when I first thought that everyone should be able to experience this exhilaration and wondered if there were currently any escorted tours that included event tickets, with the entire tour themed towards sports.”

While the tours are sports and team oriented, clients will also have the opportunity to visit some locations with educational value. Tours include Smithsonian’s, national parks, historic landmarks and even go behind the scenes at ball parks and stadiums to learn the history of the country, the cities and even the sporting arenas.

Tour prices include flights and accommodation within the United States and all game tickets.

Flights and accommodation to and from the United States are not covered in the tour prices.

Tours include:

  • Slapshot Tours, aimed at National Hockey League (NHL) fans. Slapshot Tours cater for ice hockey lovers with events and activities aimed at these fans.
  • Homerun Tours for the Major League Baseball (MLB) fans. Ever wanted to wear Mickey Mantle's Glove, or hold Babe Ruth's bat? The tours go behind the scenes of some amazing ball parks and experience live games, where the atmosphere alone is worth the trip. 
  • Slamdunk Tours for National Basketball Association (NBA) fans. Whether they want to watch the Lakers in Staples Centre, The Knicks at The Garden or Miami Heat in AmericanAirlines Arena, these tours are for them. Disney or Everglades by day, Lakers or Heat by night. 
  • Quarterback Tours for the American football fans, with game tickets and city tours all arranged.
  • More information about Escorted Sports Tours and its specific tours is available at http://www.escortedsportstours.com.au/

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