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Think "Boston" and you're bound to think of sports. Boston is a city of historic rivalries and legendary games, of patriotic chants, sports heroes and passionate fans. Here the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Celtics and the New England Patriots are household names – and you'd be hard pressed to find a bar where 'the game' isn't a welcome talking point.
Major League Sports
For Bostonites, coming out in support of your home team is an adrenaline-pumping experience. It's this thrill that brings visitors and sports fans to Boston – over 20 million each year. So whether you're watching the Red Sox hit a home run at Fenway Park, or cheering the New England Patriots on at the Gillette Stadium, you can be sure you're witnessing some of the country's best athletes in play.
Ask any native sports fan and they will tell you Boston's most popular sports are baseball, football, basketball and hockey. And Bostonians have every reason to be proud of their home teams as in 2011 Boston became the first city in sport's history to win a championship title in the four major American professional leagues within a ten year span.
The Red Sox are Boston's major league baseball team, and despite a professional drought between World Series wins that lasted almost 100 years (dubbed 'The Red Sox Curse'), their fans remain fiercely loyal. Boston's basketball stars are the Boston Celtics, whose success has seen them go on to win 17 World Championships between 1957 and 2008. Hockey is upheld by the Boston Bruins – whose famous players include Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque – while Super Bowl-winning football champs The New England Patriots and soccer heroes The New England Revolution regularly tear up the pitch at the Gillette Stadium.
Boston has a healthy collegiate sports scene to rival the likes of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago. Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University and Harvard University all feature in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's first division and have nurtured many a star player before they hit the big time. The college sports season picks up in February with hockey's Beanpot Tournament, where all four universities meet up in the TD Garden to battle it out in what promises to be the college sports highlight of the year.
With an ideal four-season climate, including warm summers and frosty winters, Boston offers plenty of opportunities for visitors looking to compete in amateur sports – or simply have fun with their family in the open air.
The 18-mile Charles River Esplanade makes for a great biking and running route while looping around the picturesque Charles River Reservation. The same area is also great for sailing and windsurfing, with Community Boating offering sailing classes and boat hire to visitors of all levels of experience.
For those feeling competitive, the Boston Ski and Sports Club organize amateur games in basketball, dodge ball, football, tennis, volleyball, golf, ultimate Frisbee and more. They can even organise a weekend or day trip for you that combines sporty activities like cycling, white water rafting, kayaking and skiing with a whole lot of fun.
Winter sports get a look in at the Leo J. Martin Golf Course, which come snow turns into a cross-country and snowshoeing centre stretching over 15km of trails. Families might also enjoy the seasonal delights of ice-skating beneath the holiday lights on Frog Pond or simply hitting the nearest hilly park with a sleigh.
Annual Sports Events
Scoring seats for a home team game can be notoriously hard, so visitors are advised to book their tickets well in advance. However, for those not lucky to get to the box office on time, Boston has a number of world-famous sporting events that are fun and free to attend.
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest marathon, attracting thousands of spectators and runners every year. Set up in 1897, the race is run on Patriots' Day and follows a 26-mile route from Hopkinton down to the famous Copley Square. It's a tough run, with the 60-metre "Heartbreak Hill" presenting a formidable upwards challenge after a long stretch of relaxing, downhill pathways.
The Head of the Charles Regatta bears the proud title of the world's largest two-day event. Inspired by the UK's boat race between Cambridge and Oxford universities, each "head race" begin at the Boston University Bridge and ends at the Elliot bridge in a 3-mile dash that is thrilling to watch.