Baseball players just hung up their cleats for the year, but football and basketball season are in full swing. With all the excitement going on, do you ever wonder how your favorite teams get from game to game? From time zones to end zones, here’s a revealing look at team travel in pro and college sports.
1. Teams travel with a huge posse.
Organizing travel for pro and college teams is no small feat, especially when you consider the sheer size of an athletic outfit.
Take the Baltimore Ravens, who travel with an impressive pack of 180 people, including: 65 players, 30 coaches, 35 administrative and operational personnel, 15 equipment staff, 12 sponsors, 8 security agents, 6 training staff, 5 members of the radio crew, and 4 doctors.
The size of college crews is nothing to snuff at either, with teams like the UCLA football squad hitting the road with a troop of 150. NBA squads travel with around 50 total people, and MLB clubs are close to that size, too. If you think booking a family vacay is tricky, imagine handling all those travel and hotel arrangements!
2. Air travel is king, but teams still use trains and buses too.
Air transportation is the go-to for most pro and many D1 college teams, unless they are facing off against a competitor in a neighboring city. In Major League Baseball, the players’ union mandates that any trip over 200 miles must be traversed by air.
But other forms of transport are often utilized as well. For instance, The New York Giants still take the Amtrak train to Washington, and join fellow New York teams like the Mets, Knicks and Rangers in taking the bus for matchups in nearby Philadelphia. That sounds like a good, old-fashioned team bonding opportunity.
3. Chartered planes are the name of the game.
Pro and D1 college teams often enter charter agreements with major airlines. A deal with Delta provides planes for 27 of the 30 NBA teams, and they’re not your typical aircrafts, either. They’re more luxurious and comfortable, with 50% more cabin space than typical airplanes, and enough legroom to accommodate the average 6’7” NBA player. After all, when your legs are LeBron-sized, you need more than a little extra space!
As far as private planes go, the New England Patriots were the first NFL team to purchase their own aircrafts (two airplanes, to be exact, one is used as a backup). The planes feature a vibrant Patriot paint job, wide, comfy seats and plenty of extra legroom. Turns out, there are perks to being a Pat.
4. Travel can wreck athletic performance.
Not surprisingly, travel (especially across multiple time zones) is hard on the body and can negatively impact an athlete’s performance. Studies have shown that re-adjusting after long trips can take the body three or more days, a luxury not usually afforded by demanding sports schedules. Lengthy travel disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm and the resulting lack of sleep can also affect reaction times and testosterone levels. According to one study on the NFL, “Decreased athletic performance has been documented under these conditions.”
In summary, your dream team could probably use a little more of the “dream” part.
5. Some teams travel more than others. A lot more!
In 2018, the Raiders are the road warriors of the NFL with a staggering 31,732 miles on the agenda. That’s more than the Falcons, Panthers and Bengals combined! In college football, no one out-travels Hawaii and Navy, with 38,578 miles and 26,496 miles on the docket, respectively. And happy trails to the Portland Trailblazers, who will top the NBA with more than 54,000 miles this season.
When it comes to the sports travel hall of fame, the 1962 Lakers hold the all-time record for miles traveled, with more than 91,000 miles in the books in just one season. That’s like traveling around Earth three and a half times! The Lakers may not have won the championship that year, but they certainly earned the title of road warriors.