Few things compare to the atmosphere on college campuses across the country on Saturdays. It isn’t just about football, it’s about culture.
The main focus of college is, of course, education. But, another important aspect of college is what older generations have labeled, “the college experience.” This so-called experience is supposed to broaden one’s horizons, usually in a social sense.
College football is one of these experiences that absolutely deserves all the hype. Arguably the most popular sport in America, football can turn even the tamest individual into a crazy fanatic. Every college, no matter how small participates in wild Saturday traditions, celebrating the game. Even if you don’t like football, or don’t understand the sport, participating in festivities on Saturday is an absolute must. Here are a couple of examples (and first-hand accounts) of crazy traditions that you might experience on game day.
Texas A&M is known across the college football community as a cult. The football traditions at Texas A&M separate them from the general drunken antics that other schools normally partake in. Students MUST learn the Aggie War Hymn, which is sung every game. Everyone in the stadium links arms and sings, chanting to “saw ‘em off,” referring to the horns of their arch-rivals, the Texas Longhorns.
One crazy Texas A&M event is now known as the “12th Man Jesus.” The 12th man is a tradition that celebrates the crowd, as they become the “12th player” for the team. In 2017, a man closely resembling Jesus, touting a “12” shaved into his chest hair, appeared on the jumbotron. A petition was quickly created, gaining over 10,000 signatures almost immediately, and later that season, 12th Man Jesus led the team out onto the field to play juggernaut Alabama.
Located in Tallahassee, Florida, Florida State University is known for its fans. A source at the school was shocked to see hundreds and hundreds of campers and trucks in the tailgate section. These weren’t even students. They were people who were simply obsessed with Seminole football. People would come dressed in crazy outfits, homemade hats, bedazzled clothing, red and gold paint everywhere. “The crazy thing was,” one of my friends, a FSU student said, “we sucked that year.” Clearly, college football isn’t only about the game, it is about the experience of the day. FSU fans also create one of the loudest stadiums, with tens of thousands participating in the “tomahawk chop.” The chopping motion of the arm is performed constantly throughout the game to throw off opposing teams.
My own school, Sacred Heart University, is not known for its football. However, I still participate in the game day experience even if I’m not passionate about the team. It’s always fun to see body paint everywhere, drunk people doing crazy things, and to just spend a Saturday afternoon having a good time with friends.
Football in America is more than the game. Every week, college students post hundreds of videos online, displaying the funny signs or sheets hung from their fraternities and sororities, documenting drunk shenanigans, or showing off crazy, spirited outfits. A few weeks ago, Indiana fans even tore a bleacher, yes, a bleacher out of the stadium and held it over their heads, reveling their insanity. Even if you don’t like football, or don’t enjoy crowds, you can still find your place to participate on Saturdays. The bars are always packed with people watching the game, or you can instead enjoy a simpler party with your friends at home, cheering on your team over appetizers and drinks. In my opinion, your college experience is not complete without at least one Saturday celebration. So, if you’re looking to get involved in a community on campus, why not try the college football scene?