Top 10 Greatest Sporting Events of All Time

From the Summer Olympics to the US Open (and everything in between), here’s my ranking of the 10 greatest sporting events.

Ben G. ('23), Contributing Writer

  1. Summer Olympic Games – Held in a new city every four years, different nations from around the globe compete against one another in the world’s largest multi-sport international event. Since the inaugural 1896 Games in Athens, Greece, the Olympics have grown from a 42-event competition between 14 world nations to a 339-event competition between 206 world nations. Some recently added sports include badminton, 3×3 basketball, surfing, climbing, skateboarding, and table tennis. As the world’s premier summertime event, the Olympics have so much to offer for serious and casual fans alike.   Most Notable Years: 1992 Barcelona, 2012 London, 2016 Rio de Janeiro


  1. NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – March Madness is the pinnacle of college sports, when 68 teams across the country are selected each year to compete in this single-elimination tournament. Whether you’re rooting for upsets and Cinderella-underdog runs or supporting your favorite powerhouse teams, this is truly the most exhilarating yet unpredictable tournament in the world. Fans nationwide spend countless hours and days making brackets leading up to March Madness (after the tournament field of teams are revealed), in which the goal is to predict the correct winner of all 63 matchups. Since making a tournament bracket became popular in 1977, there have been a grand total of zero perfect brackets. The chances of someone coming up with a perfect bracket is one in 9.2 quintillion, but nothing’s impossible…  Most Notable Years: 1985, 2006, 2016


  1. FIFA World Cup – Much like the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup occurs every four years at different venues within host nations. This month-long tournament brings together 32 of the world’s best soccer teams – 16 of them advance out of the initial group stage to play in a single-elimination format the rest of the way, resulting in one worldwide champion. The World Cup is one of the biggest and most popular sporting events in the world, as the most recent tournament in Qatar (2022) garnered more than 5 billion total viewers.  Most Notable Years: 1986, 2006, 2022


  1. The Masters – Held permanently at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, The Masters is the most notable and prestigious tournament in men’s golf. The Masters is the youngest of the four majors, and is the only one played on the same golf course every year. The winner of each year’s tournament gets to wear the coveted green jacket and earns more than $3 million in prize money.More importantly, winners receive an open-ended invitation to participate in The Masters for as long as they can physically compete, as well as 100 world ranking points and 600 PGA Tour FedEx Cup points, which helps guarantee them invitations to big-money events for years to come and qualifications for other Championship tournaments.  Most Notable Years: 1986, 1997, 2019


  1. NBA Finals – The Finals serve as the annual culmination of a nine-month basketball season in which the two teams left standing – one from the Western Conference and one from the Eastern Conference – battle it out in a best-of-seven series to determine the world champion. From Michael Jordan’s ‘flu game’ to Lebron’s iconic chasedown block, the Finals have provided basketball fans with many historic moments over the years. So much is at stake, and part of the thrill is that anything can happen in a seven-game series – whether it be one team dominating the other in a clean four-game sweep (like the Spurs did against the Cavs in 2007) or one team winning three straight ‘win or go home’ elimination games in an unprecedented, come-from-behind-victory (like the Cavs did against the Warriors in 2016).  Most Notable Years: 1984, 2010, 2016


  1. Super Bowl – The NFL’s annual Super Bowl is so unique and popular due to the fact that football is the only major professional team sport with a single-elimination championship system. The Super Bowl is truly do-or-die, as everything’s at stake in the final game of the five-month NFL season. Besides the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, the Super Bowl (specifically, LVII) is the most-watched TV program of all time, scoring an average of 115 million viewers. Whether you’re a diehard fan or just want to see the musical performance during the halftime show, the Super Bowl is definitely worth the watch.  Most Notable Years: 2008, 2009, 2015


  1. UEFA Champions League – The Champions League is the pinnacle of club soccer competition, as 32 top clubs (from the Premier League: La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A – the best of the best) battle it out in a double round-robin system of eight groups of four. The eight group winners and eight runners-up advance to the knockout stage and when the dust settles, one team is crowned the European champion.   Most Notable Years: 2003-04, 2008-09, 2014-15


  1. Wimbledon Tennis – Many believe Wimbleton to be the most prestigious of the four tennis Grand Slam majors. After all, it’s the oldest tennis tournament in the world – first originated in 1877 – and has a deep tradition and history that’s tough to match anywhere else. The annual summer tournament takes place in southwest London, England at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC). Playing on grass courts in all-white attire, icons of the tennis world have faced off at Wimbledon: Borg-McEnroe (the 22-minute tiebreaker, 1980), Nadal-Federer (classic,  2008), Williams-Davenport (three-hour final, 2005), and Arthur Ashe’s epic upset run (1975). From the intense head-to-head competition to the lush scenic greenery, Wimbledon has it all.  Most Notable Years: 1980, 2008, 2009


  1. World Series – The World Series is the annual culmination or ‘championship’ of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. Two teams – one from the American League, the other from the National League – matchup against each other in a best-of-seven series, with the team with the better regular season record holding home-field advantage. Some historic World Series moments include Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run (1988), Willie Mays’ catch (1954), and Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 walk-off (1960). America’s Pastime is definitely still must-seeTV.  Most Notable Years: 1956, 1986, 1991


  1. US Open Tennis – The US Open is the only Grand Slam held in America, and was the first of the four tournaments to apply a tiebreaker to determine a set tied at 6-6. It takes place each year in Flushing Meadows at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York, and is home to the biggest tennis stadium in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium, with a capacity of more than 23,000. The Big Apple has been the backdrop of some pretty memorable matchups, such as Venus vs. Serena (2008), Agassi vs. Sampras (2001), and Djokovic vs Federer (2011). Since the US Open is in the city that never sleeps, it’s only fitting that the tournament is known for its electric atmosphere.  Most Notable Years: 2001, 2011, 2012