An all day affair of fun and food centered around a three hour football game full of cheers, school colors, and yelling (lots of yelling)
An imaginary day not filled with football and instead consumed by Wa milkshakes and burrowing oneself into the depths of Firestone
Football (and sports in general) are an excellent opportunity to unite our community. When I was walking to rehearsal on Homecoming, I went to eat some breakfast at the Nassau Street Panera. As I opened the door, I was met by a swarm of people dressed from head to toe in orange and black. As I was waiting for my green smoothie and bagel to-go, I talked to the lady next to me who was waiting for her dozen bagels for her family. As an alumna, she and her family always returned to Princeton for the Homecoming game. Her face lit up with joy as she talked about the fun she had at each Homecoming game, both as a student and now as an alumna. Her fondest memory was going to the Princeton-Yale Homecoming game her senior year. She could not remember the outcome of the game, but she did remember looking around the stadium and seeing an orange and black sea.
If only our sports and gameday culture were actually like this. I have been at Princeton for over two months, and my Saturdays have consisted of studying, rehearsals, eating, and more studying. Gamedays are not gamedays for the entire campus. Rather, they are mostly seen as an oversight: a forgotten notification from Scorecenter or a shrug when you read about Princeton sports in the next day’s 'Prince.' (yes, this is a shameless plug).
Unlike stadiums at other schools, Powers Field (the football stadium) is not packed with over 100,000 cheering students. (Granted, Princeton’s Powers Field can only hold 27,773 people, so it would take at least four sold-out games in order to reach 100,000 fans.) From what I have seen, the closest feeling to a typical gameday was during the Princeton-Yale homecoming game. Even then, I was in rehearsal during the entirety of the game.
Here’s a different story, for context. I recently went back home to Michigan for Thanksgiving break and was able to attend the biggest football game in the University of Michigan's calendar, informally known as “The Game.” The Michigan vs. Ohio State rivalry dates back to 1897, when Michigan won 34-0. This year's game had extra meaning for the Buckeyes, as a dominant game against Michigan could possibly put them into the Top 4.
Regardless of Ohio State’s and Michigan’s current records, “The Game” always provides an thrilling and entertaining three hours of football. The moment I saw the sea of yellow and red in the “Big House” (the University of Michigan football stadium), I could tell it was gameday. For over 250 consecutive games, the “Big House” has had over 100,000 fans per game. The atmosphere and energy of a University of Michigan football game is an unforgettable experience. People don’t just stand for a single offensive possession — they stand for the entire game.
The stadium is filled with constant screaming, cheering, and, of course, the occasional yelling at the referees. It’s a culture – one centered around football, but mostly about the community. It creates a community that is united over its mutual love of its team. Although the people in the stadium don’t know each other, I have never witnessed the making of a close-knit group in such a short time. It truly is something special, and I feel honored every time I am able to be part of it.
Regardless of the record of the football team (it finished 5-5 this year), I believe you should still go to the games. Being back in Michigan reminded me of the tailgate culture and the beauty of Saturday gamedays. Let’s bring this to Princeton.
Let’s go to the games. Let’s experience the culture. Let’s make a community.
Maddie Wu is a first-year student from Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.