7 Fantasy Camps Where You Can Live The Dream

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iStock

You might play fantasy football, but what if your fantasy is to really play football with the stars? If you've got some time and a little bit (okay, usually a lot) of cash, you can get the experience of really being on the field through a sports fantasy camp. You might not even have the requisite skills to be traded for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, but once your check clears, you can get in the game at any of these fantasy camps:

1. HOT SHOTS CURLING CAMP

Imagine curling alongside Glenn Howard. It sounds almost too good to be true, right? Wait, who's Glenn Howard? If you're one of curling's legion of passionate fans, you know. Howard, a three-time world curling champ, is just one of the celebrity instructors who can give leads, seconds, thirds, and fourths pointers on how to elevate their games at this camp. Clinic topics covered at the weekend-long camp include "Effective Brushing," "Reading the Ice," and "Matching Stones." The curling camp is offering three dates in Oakville, ON, Ottawa and Utica, NY, throughout the late summer and early fall, so you, too, can learn the finer points of curling in time for the 2010 Olympics.

2. USA LUGE LAKE PLACID FANTASY CAMP

Curling's not the only Winter Olympic sport you can brush up on before the torch lights up in Vancouver. USA Luge is offering a fantasy camp at Lake Placid, the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games, and for $2000, you can learn how to slide down an icy run on your own. Since flying down the chute with no experience is probably incredibly dangerous, the camp breaks newbies in on start ramps in a refrigerated facility before taking on the big drops. Although it sounds a bit pricey, how many chances do you get to race down a world-class luge run? Instead of watching the Olympic luge and saying, "Wow, that looks like a lot of fun!" you'll be able to just nod your head knowingly like an ice-tested veteran.

3. MICHAEL JORDAN FLIGHT SCHOOLS

Want to shoot hoops with His Airness? Are you at least 35 years old? Do you have $17,500 you're just dying to spend? If so, you can hit up MJ's senior camp at the Mirage Hotel in Vegas from August 15-18. For all that dough, you get to run with a team of other camp contestants in scrimmages. That might not sound all that cool, but each team gets two "elite coaches," and Jordan's not throwing the term around loosely. Last year's event boasted a coaching staff that was a veritable checklist of coaching royalty, including Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Chuck Daley, and Hubie Brown. (I counted at least dozen NCAA championship rings and a handful of NBA titles to the staff's credit.) If everything breaks just right, you might even get to take on Jordan in a game of one-on-one, and you might just beat him. In 2003, Ariel Investments CEO John Rogers pulled off the rare feat, and he's got the YouTube video to prove it.

4. NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL FANTASY CAMP

Scores of Golden Domers have dreamed about slipping on the blue and gold to take the field in South Bend, and if you've got the cash, you can make it happen from June 17-21. Participants get four non-contact practice sessions with Notre Dame coaches, sit-downs with the coaching staff to talk about strategy and recruiting, and tours of Irish football facilities that generally aren't open to the public. The price is steep, though; a ticker in will set you back at least $5140, more if you're not a Notre Dame alum. Still, for some people it's a small price to pay to be a part of Notre Dame's glorious football tradition. (I'm assuming this camp focuses on Notre Dame's glory days, not the more recent Charlie Weis-led campaigns, if only because "Making Excuses," "Deflecting Media Questions About Your Coach's Competence," and "Wishing You'd Gone to Ohio State Instead" aren't listed as camp activities.) [Image credit: Michael & Susan Bennett.]

5. PRO WRESTLING FANTASY CAMP

It's easy to mock pro wrestling for being fake, but even if the outcomes of the bouts are scripted, the moves look like they take quite a bit of skill to pull off safely. The wrestling coaches at Toronto's Squared Circle Training can apparently turn any Joe off the street into, at the very least, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, though. In November 2008 the trainers ran a weekend fantasy camp that promised to teach attendees holds, rope running, match pacing, and how to cut a killer promo, all for just $150. Let's hope they also taught campers how to come up with an unstoppable gimmick to win over fans everywhere. (If not, I'll offer one can't-miss suggestion for any aspiring grapplers: a cowboy/Frankenstein hybrid.)

6. IDITAROD DOG MUSHING TRIP

The Iditarod is one of the truly unique events in all of sports, and it's also nearly impossible for a casual fan to replicate. After all, very few of us have our own teams of sled dogs. Alaska Dog Sledding offers weeklong sled dog mushing tours for $2500, and for an extra grand you can time your trip to overlap with the Iditarod in March, which gives you the chance to see the end of the race, meet the racers and their dogs, and generally soak in the chilly Iditarod vibe. Sure, the trip isn't cheap, but compared to buying your own sled and team of dogs, it's a steal.

7. WAYNE GRETZKY'S FANTASY CAMP

The Great One definitely gets the award for cleverest pricing plan; an admission to Gretzky's six-day camp costs $9999, a play on the 99 he always had stitched on the back of his sweaters. Like Jordan's camp, Gretzky's offers teams of weekend warriors the opportunity to take the ice with their hero, get pointers, and play some hotly contested scrimmages. Members of the camp's winning teams get their names engraved on the Gretzky Cup, which Wayne displays at his restaurant in Toronto. (Any former champion who makes a pilgrimage to see the cup gets a free lunch.) Last year's camp included appearances from NHL stalwarts like Lindy Ruff and Bobby Hull, with all the proceeds going to Gretzky's charitable foundation, which helps provide hockey equipment for underprivileged children. For added realism, sign up for a stint at Gretzky's hockey camp while sending your wife to a fantasy sports gambling camp.

The 10 Best Memorial Day 2020 Sales

iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth
iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth

The Memorial Day sales have started early this year, and it's easy to find yourself drowning in offers for cheap mattresses, appliances, shoes, and grills. To help you cut through the noise and focus on the best deals around, we threw together some of our favorite Memorial Day sales going on right now. Take a look below.

1. Leesa

A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
Leesa

Through May 31, you can save up to $400 on every mattress model Leesa has to offer, from the value-minded Studio by Leesa design to the premium Leesa Legend, which touts a combination of memory foam and micro-coil springs to keep you comfortable in any position you sleep in.

Find it: Leesa

2. Sur La Table

This one is labeled as simply a “summer sale,” but the deals are good only through Memorial Day, so you should get to it quickly. This sale takes up to 20 percent off outdoor grilling and dining essentials, like cast-iron shrimp pans ($32), a stainless steel burger-grilling basket ($16), and, of course, your choice of barbeque sauce to go along with it.

Find it: Sur la Table

3. Wayfair

KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Sale on Wayfair.
Wayfair/KitchenAid

Wayfair is cutting prices on all manner of appliances until May 28. Though you can pretty much find any home appliance imaginable at a low price, the sale is highlighted by $130 off a KitchenAid stand mixer and 62 percent off this eight-in-one GoWise air fryer.

And that’s only part of the brand’s multiple Memorial Day sales, which you can browse here. They’re also taking up to 40 percent off Samsung refrigerators and washing machines, up to 65 percent off living room furniture, and up to 60 percent off mattresses.

Find it: Wayfair

4. Blue Apron

If you sign up for a Blue Apron subscription before May 26, you’ll save $20 on each of your first three box deliveries, totaling $60 in savings. 

Find it: Blue Apron

5. The PBS Store

Score 20 percent off sitewide at Shop.PBS.org when you use the promo code TAKE20. This slashes prices on everything from documentaries like Ken Burns’s The Roosevelt: An Intimate History ($48) and The Civil War ($64) to a Pride & Prejudice tote bag ($27) and this precious heat-changing King Henry VIII mug ($11) that reveals the fates of his many wives when you pour your morning coffee.

Find it: The PBS Store

6. Amazon

eufy robot vacuum.
Amazon/eufy

While Amazon doesn’t have an official Memorial Day sale, the ecommerce giant still has plenty of ever-changing deals to pick from. Right now, you can take $100 off this outdoor grill from Weber, $70 off a eufy robot vacuum, and 22 percent off the ASUS gaming laptop. For more deals, just go to Amazon and have a look around.

7. Backcountry

You can save up to 50 percent on tents, hiking packs, outdoor wear, and more from brands like Patagonia, Marmot, and others during Backcountry's Memorial Day sale.

Find it: Backcountry

8. Entertainment Earth

Funko Pops on Sale on Entertainment Earth.
Entertainment Earth/Funko

From now until June 2, Entertainment Earth is having a buy one, get one half off sale on select Funko Pops. This includes stalwarts like the Star Wars and Batman lines, and more recent additions like the Schitt's Creek Funkos and the pre-orders for the upcoming X-Men movie line.

Find it: Entertainment Earth

9. Moosejaw

With the promo code SUNSCREEN, you can take 20 percent off one full-price item at Moosejaw, along with finding up to 30 percent off select items during the outdoor brand's summer sale. These deals include casual clothing, outdoor wear, trail sneakers, and more. 

Find it: Moosejaw

10. Osprey

Through May 25, you can save 25 percent on select summer items, and 40 percent off products from last season. This can include anything from hiking packs and luggage to outdoorsy socks and hats. So if you're planning on getting acquainted with the great outdoors this summer, now you can do it on the cheap.

Find it: Osprey

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Bo Knows Everything: Remembering Nike's Legendary Bo Jackson Ad Campaign

Bo Jackson and the "Bo Knows" campaign helped Nike finally overtake Reebook in the early 1990s.
Bo Jackson and the "Bo Knows" campaign helped Nike finally overtake Reebook in the early 1990s.
Mike Powell, Allsport/Getty Images

It may have been difficult for Nike to conceive of any athlete being able to do more for its company than Michael Jordan. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Chicago Bulls star was omnipresent, helping turn their Air Jordan line of sneakers into a squeaky chorus in school hallways and gyms around the country. Even better, the company had scored big with “Just Do It,” an advertising slogan introduced in 1988 that became part of the public lexicon.

There was just one issue. In spite of Jordan’s growing popularity and their innovative advertising, Nike was still in second place behind Reebok. No other athlete on their roster could seemingly bridge the gap. Not even their new cross-training shoe endorsed by tennis pro John McEnroe was igniting excitement in the way the company had hoped.

In 1989, two major events changed all of that: An advertising copywriter was struck with inspiration, and two-sport athlete Bo Jackson slammed a first-inning home run during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The ad man’s idea was to portray Jackson as being able to do just about anything. Jackson went ahead and proved him right.

 

Bo Jackson was an ideal spokesperson for Nike's new line of cross-training sneakers. The Auburn University graduate was making waves as a rare two-sport pro athlete; he was playing baseball for the Kansas City Royals and football for the Los Angeles Raiders. Early commercials featured Jackson sampling other sporting activities like riding a bike. “Now, when’s that Tour de France?” he asked. In another, he dunked a basketball and pondered the potential of “Air Bo.”

At a Portland bar near Nike’s headquarters one evening, Nike vice president of marketing Tom Clarke and Jim Riswold of ad agency Wieden + Kennedy were pondering how best to use Jackson going forward. Clarke wanted to devote the majority of their budget for the cross-trainers to an ad campaign featuring the athlete. The two started lobbing ideas about other people named Bo—Bo Derek, Beau Brummell, Little Bo Peep, and Bo Diddley, among others.

The last one stuck with Riswold. He thought of a phrase—“Bo, you don’t know Diddley”—and went home to sleep on it. When he woke up the next morning, he was able to sketch out an entire commercial premise in minutes. Riswold envisioned a spot in which Jackson would try his hand at other sports, punctuating each with a “Bo Knows” proclamation. Jackson soon realizes the one thing he can’t do is play guitar with Bo Diddley, the legendary musician.

It took longer to shoot the commercial than to conceive of it. The spot was shot over the course of a month, with the crew going to California, Florida, and Kansas to film cameos with other athletes including Jordan, McEnroe, and Wayne Gretzky—all of whom Nike had under personal appearance contracts.

Fearing Jackson might hurt himself trying to skate, the production filmed him from the knees up sliding around in socks at a University of Kansas gymnasium rather than on ice. But not all attempts at caution were successful. When director Joe Pytka grew frustrated that Jackson kept running off-camera and implored him to move in a straight line, Jackson steamrolled both the equipment and Pytka, who had to tend to a bloody nose before continuing.

In portraying any other athlete this way, the campaign may have come off as stretching credulity. But Jackson had already been improving his game in all areas, hitting a 515-foot home run during a spring training win over the Boston Red Sox. In April, he hit .282 and tallied eight home runs. Even when he struck out, he still stood out: Jackson was prone to breaking his bat over his knee in frustration.

 

After Jackson was voted into the 1989 MLB All-Star Game in July, Nike decided the telecast would be the ideal place to debut their Bo Knows campaign. They handed out Bo Knows pennants for fans and even flew Bo Knows signs overhead. Bo Knows appeared in a full-page spot for USA Today. Even by Nike standards, this was big.

There was, of course, a chance Jackson would be in a bat-breaking mood, which might diminish the commercial’s impact. But in the very first inning, Jackson sent one into the stands off pitcher Rick Reuschel. With a little scrambling, Nike was able to get their ad moved up from the fourth inning, where it was originally scheduled to run. In the broadcast booth, announcer Vin Scully and special guest, former president Ronald Reagan, marveled at Jackson’s prowess. Scully reminded viewers that his pro football career was something Jackson once described as a “hobby.”

A Bo Jackson fan is pictured holding up a 'Bo Knows Baseball!' sign at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California on July 11, 1989
A Bo Jackson fan shows his support at the MLB All-Star Game in Anaheim, California on July 11, 1989.
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Jackson was named the Most Valuable Player of the game. That summer and into the fall, Bo Knows was quickly moving up the ranks of the most pervasive commercial spots in memory, second only to Jordan’s memorable ads for Nike and McDonald’s. Jackson turned up in sequels, trying his hand at everything from surfing to soccer to cricket. Special effects artists created multiple Bo Jacksons, a seemingly supernatural explanation for why he excelled at everything.

It was a myth, but one rooted in reality. After 92 wins with the Royals as a left-fielder in 1989, Jackson reported for the NFL season that fall as a running back for the Raiders. In one three-game stretch, he ran for over 100 yards each. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in November, Jackson ran 92 yards for a touchdown. He finished the season with 950 rushing yards. That winter, he was named to the Pro Bowl, making him the only athlete to appear in two all-star games for two major North American sports in consecutive seasons.

Nike was staggered by the results of Bo Knows, which helped them leap over Reebok to become the top athletic shoe company. They eventually secured 80 percent of the cross-training shoe market, going from $40 million in sales to $400 million, a feat that executives attributed in large part to Jackson. Bo Knows, bolstered by Jackson’s demonstrated versatility, was the perfect marriage of concept and talent. His stature as a spokesperson rose, and he appeared in spots for AT&T and Mountain Dew Sport, earning a reported $2 million a year for endorsements. A viewer survey named him the most persuasive athlete in advertising. If that weren’t enough, Jackson also appeared in the popular Nintendo Entertainment System game Tecmo Bowl and on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1989.

 

In 1991, Jackson suffered a serious hip injury during a Raiders game, one that permanently derailed his football career. He played three more seasons of baseball with the Chicago White Sox and California Angels before retiring from sports in 1994.

Jackson's relationship with Nike was dissolved soon after, though the company never totally abandoned the concept of athletes wading into new territory. In 2004, a campaign depicted big names sampling other activities. Tennis great Andre Agassi suited up for the Boston Red Sox; cyclist Lance Armstrong was seen boxing; Serena Williams played beach volleyball. The Bo Knows DNA ran throughout.

Jackson still makes periodic references to the campaign, including in advertisements for his Bo Jackson Signature Foods. (“Bo Knows Meat,” the website proclaims.) In 2019, Jackson also appeared in a Sprint commercial that aimed for surrealism, with Jackson holding a mermaid playing a keytar and having a robot intone that “Bo does know” something about cell phone carriers.

The other key Bo—Diddley—never quite understood why the campaign worked. After seeing the commercial, he reportedly said that he was confused because it had nothing to do with shoes.