It's seconds before the final buzzer. The crowd is chanting your name. You're on the court, sweat dripping down your face. You dribble the ball, working your way toward the basket. You see your poker buddy Jim to your left. Up ahead is your next-door neighbor, Bill. Coming up on your right? Michael Jordan. Wait, what? Is this some kind of dream?
Playing ball with the legendary Michael Jordan is a dream for most people. However, for a mere $17,000 or so, you can make it a reality. Basketball not your thing? How about training with the Yankees? Hockey with Wayne Gretzky? Racing with Richard Petty?
Sports fantasy camps are a cross between vacation and training camp. You're paying for the privilege to spend a few days hanging out with your idols -- mingling, meeting-and-greeting, learning more about the game and even playing alongside your hero. The games are informal, and you don't have to be an elite athlete to participate.
Even though they call it "camp," these sports fantasy experiences aren't for kids. Most camps have a minimum age requirement (usually around 30), and some campers are as old as 83. All you need is a love of the game and some physical abilities. Oh, and money. You'll need a lot of money.
As we mentioned, fantasy camp with Michael Jordan costs $17,500 for three days with the basketball legend. Yankees fantasy baseball camp, on the other hand, is a bit cheaper -- $5,500 for a six-day experience. Sports camps vary in length, price and venue. Some include meals and lodging; some don't. Some include airfare; some don't. Some provide face-to-face time with sports celebrities; some provide time with coaches only. It all depends on what kind of sports experience you're looking for.
So what kinds of people attend sports fantasy camps and what's a typical day at fantasy camp like? Let's play ball.