It’s what we do to kick off the game; it’s what we do between quarters, at half time, on third down conversions, and when touchdowns are made; it’s what we do that makes us proud of our college and our team. It sets us apart from all others in our league and gives us a unique branding of who we are and all that we represent. It’s called tradition, (a state of mind, a state of inner being and outward display of emotional spirit) or simply put “pride and joy”!
Whether you display your devotion to a college team by the apparel you sport or the gear you accumulate over time, one matter of certainty is that every fan is bound to know, at best, a handful of the many traditions upheld on campus or in the football stadium. From adrenaline rushes to hair raising goose bumps, from moments of solitude and silence to moments of deafening chants and stadium rumbles, there isn’t a college campus or college stadium anywhere where you won’t find a student body or fan base steadfast and enthusiastically involved.
Speaking of stadium rumbles, this calls to mind a Metallica favorite. The Hokies of Virginia Tech are known for their “Enter Sandman” explosive entrance on to the football field as the crowd jumps up and down the moment the music fills the air, causing a rumble effect throughout the stadium. If you are a college sports fanatic and haven’t visited Lane Stadium for this experience, make it a bucket list item. School mascots representative of live animals escort their team to the field like Uga, the bulldog from the University of Georgia and Ralphie, the enormous buffalo from the University of Colorado. Warriors like Tommy Trojan and the Travelers from the University of Southern California and Chief Osceola riding in on a beautiful Appaloosa with a flaming spear take center stage to commence their performance on the field.
Others may rub their hands for good luck on significant tokens or symbolic structures prior to leaving the team’s tunnel or stepping foot on the field of play, like Clemson University’s Howard’s Rock and the University of Maryland’s Terrapin. Infamous arm motions like that of the University of Florida’s notorious gator chomp and hand gestures symbolizing bullhorns for the South Florida Bulls and Texas Longhorns, or the outburst of chants such as, “We Are… Marshall” or “Let’s Go… Tigers”! And then there’s a bit of history to be noted in things like the “Ramblin’ Wreck” of Georgia Tech and the “Sooner Schooner” of Oklahoma. Regardless of what any college or university embraces with tradition, those values interject a deeper inward feeling of pride and spirited exuberance.
Invariably, acts of traditions are not limited to fight songs, sporting school colors, game day chants, body motions, team spirit cheers, and scoring rituals, but they are certain to be learned by newcomers and carried out faithfully game by game, year after year, and decades to come. Many times over, countless traditions seem to have been magically, or accidentally, whimmed up on the spur of the moment with no real reason or purpose in mind. They may have just begun as an unintentional moment of joyous expression, even sometimes perpetrated as a joke of sorts. Be it coincidence or persistence, these college feelings happen to have all the right stuff that dwells in the hearts and minds of students and parents, fans and spectators, players and coaches, staff and faculty members to the point where you might hear one say, “The color orange is in my blood” or “I bleed purple”. You can’t get any closer to the heart than that.