Things Only Sports Fans in College Will Appreciate
Let's make one thing clear: Legally speaking, college students are adults.
They are free to vote, gamble and dodge bullets for their country. Half of them can even legally drink adult beverages.
They are not true-blue grownups, however, and most readily admit that. Until you've graduated from college, got rejected from a crappy job and otherwise joined the shin-kicking-hailstorm-of-misery called "the real world," you have yet to fully cross the plane into adulthood.
Being only a couple of years out from graduating, I miss college dearly: the 10 a.m. wake-up, the '80s parties and the sports. You have so many sports at your fingertips! They're practically free!
The problem is that once you graduate, you get a job and start turning into a different sports fan. You are jaded, tired and not making a sign unless someone presses a Walther to your head and screams, "Get coloring!"
In this spirit, I've compiled a list of things only sports fans in college can understand (and the exception to the rule, where applicable). We did some crazy stuff, and we'll never find the energy to do it again.
The Crowd Pushup
Adults help as few people as they can. That's just the way it is.
At a certain point in life, you realize the more you go out of your way for other people, the more likely your kindness will be ignored or used against you.
College students don't have this pessimism yet. They're still all together in this "humanity" thing. Groups of freshmen who've known one another for two minutes can band together like the Permian Panthers just to do goofy things like crowd pushups. It's amazing.
But ask an adult to hoist up a random stranger at a ballgame? He could have the SARS or sue me for an inadvertent hand slip into the five-gap.
Exception: None. I can't think of one time I've seen adults doing crowd pushups.
Losing Your Voice at the Game
Dehydration plus team spirit multiplied by four hours equals snapped vocal cords.
Being an undergrad sports fan means doing the hard work THAT older adults are unable or refuse to do. You have to wake up early, stay to the final whistle and cheer every chant. You bend over backward for other students—students who then pour bottles of Hershey's syrup and peppermint schnapps into your face. It's not easy.
On top of all this, you must yell. If you still have a voice by the final whistle, you're not doing it right.
Exception: Seattle Seahawks fans.
Camping out for Tickets
"C'mon, bro. We're going to Krzyzewskiville! We'll sleep on concrete and sweat Keystone into sleeping bags! It'll be fun!"
I never camped out for tickets in college (we weren't allowed to), and I sure as hell wouldn't do it now.
Sleeping on the ground for tickets is a young fan's game, and once you're out of school and have made a little money (not much, trust me), you'll find yourself dropping holier than thou sentences like "[Bleep] that. I'll pay $300 online. I'm not freezing in a shanty town all night."
Exception: Weird, adult Harry Potter fans.
The Tailgate Struggle
"Righty-o! Time to walk competently into the game! Two beers, no fears! Standing isn't a problem for me!"
Alumni tailgates have no issue packing it in and going to the game—if they go to the game at all.
Most parents roll up to fields, pitch a respectable tent, set up their respectable flat screens and break out the respectable Tupperware. They have a setup. They have an exit strategy. They have potato salad.
This is not the case for college students. They do not have potato salad.
Undergrads who tailgate are like locusts passing through a wheat field. They consume everything in their path and move on before undercover cops can bust their underage friends. After so many stops, however, their mobility is retarded by the liters of alcohol and burnt meat they've consumed.
Thus begins the Tailgate Struggle: the moment when one bro turns around and announces to no one in particular: "I don't know if I can make it, man."
Exception: NASCAR fans.
For the most part, adults don't want any violence.
We just want to get through life with as little car damage and as much Netflix as possible. College students, however, want to do things. They want to celebrate life, grab it with their hands and wring every drop from it.
Thus the rioting. Huge sports victories mean rioting for college students. Something big has happened, so it must be commemorated. We're inside, but we need to go outside. The world feels like it's ending in a good way, so let's flip a Hyundai.
Adults are willing to watch riots, if only for the weird schadenfreude. Someone else's possessions are being ruined, and just tallying the dollar count is exhilarating.
Exceptions: The city of Vancouver; Turkish soccer fans.
The Bliss of Student Discounts*
Here's something most college students don't appreciate until they've graduated: You practically get to go to games for free.
While the rest of us are scanning Craigslist and pawning our kid's insulin for tickets, you're skipping through the door at $20-35 a pop. If that.
Must be nice.
Exceptions: Senior citizens. They get a mean discount at some venues.
The Student ID Pass-Back
The one stipulation to receiving cheaper tickets as a student is the student ID requirement, which most (if not all) universities requires these days.
The school will not stand to see kids turning around and selling their discounted tickets at a profit to alumni and scalpers. Thus they require a university ID to enter the game with a student ticket.
Getting around the system is possible, however. All that's required is a "pass-back," which some adults may remember from their underage bar-going days. Get inside and then pass that ID back through a chain-link fence. It's not like the security guards look at it.
Exception: Recent college grads who are too cheap to buy full-priced tickets.
The College GameDay Congregation
Few experiences are as highly anticipated or life-affirming for college students as having College GameDay come to their campus.
You break out your best costume and spend hours coming up with the most clever sign possible. Probably something about Lane Kiffin. That'll kill.
Soldiering through a raucous GameDay broadcast is a labor of love that requires hours of screaming and waving outside of a stadium. Older adults can understand this phenomenon but reserve their willingness to stand half-drunk in a wild crowd for Jimmy Buffett concerts.
Exceptions: Lee Corso.
The 4 a.m. Pregame
College Student: "Got a noon kickoff tomorrow. Want to start pregaming at 4 a.m.?"
Adult: "Is the world ending or something?"
There's a telling difference between college kids and adults. Christ has to be descending from the heavens on a chariot pulled by winged Gila monsters for us to drink that early in the morning. They say money over everything, but it's not true.
Dreaming rules everything around me. D.R.E.A.M. Get the REMs, keep on pushing snooze, y'all.
Exception: Your crazy uncle.
Wearing Ridiculous Game Outfits Around Campus/to Class
You've never known what it means to be a college sports fan until you've turned in a political science paper on drone warfare wearing a full-body banana suit.
Sorry Doc, we've got a game after this.
Exceptions: Pauly Shore, probably.
Did U.S. reconnaissance storm the Gendarmenmarkt after beating the Nazis at the buzzer? No. They carried themselves like two-time World War champs! They acted like they'd been there before!
A solid majority of college basketball's old guard has a beef with court storming. It's dangerous, too frequent and embarrassing to the program.
They have a point. There is a time and a place for court rushing, and every unranked victory over a ranked opponent isn't grounds for students annexing the hardwood like it's Ukrainian territory.
With that said, one of my fondest memories from college—no, life—was being shoved down a flight of stairs at Assembly Hall after IU beat No. 1 Kentucky in 2011. I ended up going to the hospital the next day to have my knee checked out, but not before my friends Saving Private Ryan'd me to the hardwood to celebrate one of the biggest wins in program history.
Exceptions: None. Adults do not rush the floor. They leave early to beat traffic. College wins.
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