I walked into the football stadium for last Saturday’s game against ASU ready for the intellectual challenge. The near four hours of play, complicated tactics and elaborate scoring system that I never fully grasped all could have intimidated me. I’m used to being confused in class, but a sporting event?
Nonetheless, I trotted over to section 105 in the Red Zone and found my rightful place in the game as an enthusiastic fan. Who cares if I did not understand the game? I was ready for a good time.
I know this routine pretty well– it started at the first game my freshman year. Even though I have never been partial to the technicalities of the sport, there is plenty of room for enjoyment among new and bandwagon fans alike.
Never quite understood the nuances of the sport past the touchdowns and field goals? Don’t let the die-hard fans scare you. Never joined in on the football hype before Stanford? Well, neither had I, and look how far I have come.
The first step to enjoying the game without having the rules under your belt is going through the motions. Show up to the game in Cardinal attire, enter the student section and never sit down. That’s right, a football game is an athletic even for everyone involved.
Jump when those around you do so during “All Right Now,” and have your keys ready for the distinctive jingle. Pretty soon you’ll be leading the charge. Others will look to you for the moment to hop or shake, a proud and important responsibility.
And if you came to Stanford for the engineering rather than the sport, you’ll find that the stadium rivals the newly renovated technical quad on west campus. The football players themselves are some of the finest feats of engineering that Stanford has to offer.
The Red Zone forms an ideal laboratory for their upclose observation– and the length of the game allows for a thorough analysis of the players’ mechanics. Go ahead, take it all in… And should you require more advanced imaging equipment, the stadium comes equipped with a fleet of state-of-the-art jumbotrons.
If you’re more into the liberal arts, look a football game as a cultural study. Considering the popularity of the sport in our country, it seems necessary to at least appreciate it as an intellectual exercise in understanding U.S. history.
Analyze the psychology behind the ultimate fan, listen to the poetics of the sports announcer, look for instances of mob-mentality. For those more interested in global studies, you’ll find worldly cuisines in the stadium ranging from sushi to polish sausage.
My next piece of advice is to develop an appreciation for the fellow Stanford fan. It’s not hard if you followed my first recommendation and stand in the Red Zone. You’ll find yourself surrounded completely by cardinal-clad supporters.
Consider the determination and tenacity necessary to line up with red body paint, nearly naked throughout the entire season. And think, what skill it must have taken to memorize the lineup and stats on the players. No wonder they got into Stanford!
And finally take a second to admire the emotional connection these fans have to the team; don’t you applaud the love they feel?
Take in excitement of the game, notice the energy within the crowd and check out the band. Make some noise. And if you are still iffy about the game, join in for the sake of showing excitement of for your school.
Be happy to be at a school where people care enough to go a little crazy at the games: You don’t need to be into football to be on board with that, and there is plenty of Stanford pride to go around.