A lot of sports travelers are about visiting certain leagues and completing all of the teams in an entire circuit. Professional sports is a big task with roughly 30 teams spread out across the US and Canada, while the minor leagues have become spaced out too. So far, I’ve only completed the Eastern League (AA baseball), but that expires in three months when the Hartford Yard Goats officially replace the New Britain franchise. I’ve also talked about how the OHL is an excellent goal if sports trippers want to go that route and travel into Canada. In the college game, money-obsessed commissioners and school presidents have spread out most conferences, so that the big name ones need a plane to reach some league road games. However, there are still a few out there that are in neat and tidy regions (the way they should be). One of those is the Big West.
Beautifully dubbed “The California Bus League” by Kyle Whelliston, the Big West was not always a California-centric league. Schools like UNLV, Boise State, New Mexico State and Idaho spent a lot of time here before moving on. In a rare move, the conference consolidated geographically and with the exception of Hawaii, it is now a league with all schools in the California system (hence a bunch of CSU or UC acronyms). The nine-team league also means they play a true round-robin schedule. For road-trippers, this is such a great conference to strive for completion as many of the schools are around the LA area. Only UC Davis is in Northern California and the whole thing was perfect a few years ago when it was Pacific and not Hawaii in the league (The Tigers are in Stockton, not far from Davis). The arenas are on the smaller side, but there is a nice diversity between small gyms and mid-sized facilities with the highlight arena being the unique Walter Pyramid in Long Beach. The bonus…the weather is warm!!!
Visiting all 351 Division I Basketball arenas is an awesome, but very difficult goal. Seeing all the teams in a particular conference is a nice start and there are others to check out besides the Big West. Out of all the types of sports I go to, college basketball is my favorite because of the wide variety in the trip. From small towns to big cities, tiny gyms to pro-style arenas (and everything in between) and crowds ranging from friends/family to the insanely awesome one in Lawrence on Monday…the sport is the best for those obsessed with this niche of sports travelling.