College Gameday season is here and there is no better “official” start to freshman year than cheering on your football team in hopes of a memorable, victorious ending! At the University of Southern California, weekends in the fall are taken extremely seriously. The hype around USC football is truly impossible to fully understand until you find yourself in the middle of seas of cardinal and gold, walking to the Coliseum, shouting “fight on” at just about anyone and everyone and all coming together as one big, happy Trojan family.
Oftentimes students view the events and festivities surrounding the actual game to be the highlight of the weekend, rather than the match-up itself. For me personally, attending the games is a must as a big sports fan, and I fully recommend purchasing your school’s ticket pass where you have access to the student section for every home game, even if you decide not to attend all. There really is nothing more memorable, or more collegiate, than hearing the marching band proudly blast the fight song, surrounded by your friends and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself.
Football game times may vary throughout the season, however “pre-gaming” will occur regardless if sun has barely risen and the birds are still chirping. Until I actually got to USC, I did not fully understand the tailgate and party culture that was further amplified by a football game. Even for an 11 am kickoff time, students on campus were waking up as early as 6 am to start drinking. While it is definitely not necessary to consume any kind of beverage to enjoy the festivities (and no one should make you feel like you have to drink in order to have fun!), as a college student who is attending a large sports school, alcohol will be flowing freely all day. If you do decide to drink, the importance of drinking enough water and also eating a substantial breakfast for morning games is absolutely crucial. Alcohol on an empty stomach is never a smart idea, but it’s especially unhealthy if you need enough energy to cheer loudly for the Trojans (or any other school).
Another tip when it comes to deciding where to pregame, is to remember to attend a gathering that would be most suitable for your own comfort level. Gamedays are so special because they aren’t every weekend of the year. You don’t want to go to something just because you feel like you should or because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. The start of the day should be just as exciting as the game, so spend it the way you want. If anything, you can always meet up with your friends again at the stadium, go inside together and all sit as a group there. You shouldn’t feel tied to drinking, partying or socializing in any way beforehand that makes you uncomfortable just because of FOMO (fear of missing out).
2. During the Game
Try and actually keep up with what is going on! If this requires multiple Google searches on your phone throughout, that is completely fine! Understanding how the game of football is played or at least attempting to follow what is happening will not only make your own experience a lot more enjoyable, but also the experiences of the people you are with. No one likes to be around someone who is complaining of boredom or clearly would rather be elsewhere. Freshman year is full of learning new things and the rules of sports are no different! As a first year student who most likely has not attended many college sporting events beforehand, it is acceptable to ask questions. If you don’t know the fight song, don’t know the players or whatever they are doing on the field, just follow along the best you can and maintain an excited and interested attitude regardless.
In addition, try not to complain about anything once you get there. Whether this be the weather, where you are seated or who you are with - just make the best of the situation because the day probably won’t be perfect. As freshman, we tend to want everything to go the way we planned, or imagined it would be, and that is just not the case in college.
3. After the Game
You will most likely need to rest up or nap after three or more hours of standing up, but try and plan something fun to do that night. Your “gameday high” will still be in overload, where everything is super exciting, so make sure you leave time that night to have fun, even if it involves planning in advance. While workload can build up once school is in full swing, no one remembers the Saturday nights they stayed in studying, especially if your football team just scored a win! It doesn’t need to involve attending a party, it's just especially nice to continue your social schedule into the evening, as a way to celebrate with your fellow students!
I know my first Gameday at SC was incredibly memorable, fun and an amazing start to my Trojan experience! I had no set expectations, was incredibly flexible and I truly recommend enjoying every game you possibly can because unfortunately, before we know it, football season will be over.
Image Credit: Jane Iwanowski