A new year means a new football season. A new football season means more games. More games means more spirit, and also, more craziness. Most of you may not know which game I’m referring to when I say “chaotic,” but in order to relive the wild occurrences of freshman year, and going off of my unexpected experiences in Expos, I go back to the night of October 24, 2015: the chaotic game against Ohio State.
Just to be clear, this post is not about the game itself, but rather my own personal experience in getting there and seeing it (well, part of it anyway).
To be honest, I didn’t really start going to football games in high school until my senior year, and I had a great time. The spirit, the excitement, and the overall vibrant atmosphere carrying away into the late hours of the night are all things I wouldn’t want to erase from my memory even if it were full. In fact, it was at those games where I met most of my closest high school friends and we became a group. The game itself, however, I don’t remember much of (sorry, hardcore fans).
That was high school. In college, I had expected a similar type of experience, just with a much bigger student count in a much bigger stadium and with new people that I hoped would become some of my best friends. Well, the OSU game did happen in a huge stadium, and there were a lot of people, so that’s… a start, I guess?
There was a plan and there was the reality, and I have yet to have another experience where both of those things could be further away from each other than they were then.
It all started at my house, not my dorm as it should have been, and already, I should have figured out that I was going to be late to the game because of the intense amount of traffic. It’s even more ridiculous considering that my house is 30 minutes away from Rutgers. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it would, and I got to College Avenue campus a good hour and a half before the game, which started at 8:00 pm. My advice for new students is to please make sure you either don’t leave campus the weekend you’re planning to go to a game, or come extra early the day of so you don’t run into heavy traffic. Unfortunately for me, “extra early” typically ranged from on time to an hour after.
Although I initially didn’t plan to go to the game with anyone from my dorm, I realized some people I knew who lived on Busch were going, so I decided to ask them. The people I was planning to go with that night were at the tailgate party that was going on in front of the stadium. I texted them telling them I’d meet them there. I realized that this might actually turn out to be a fun experience after all, and all it took for me to get there was a quick bus ride to Busch Campus from College Avenue, just like every other day when I try to get to classes. I smiled all happy and smug about it. What could possibly go wrong?
Wait a minute. My smile quickly faded when I realized that this was a football game on a football night! So many fans, so many people, so few buses! The sad thing was that I realized this while waiting to get on the bus across the Student Center after having already waited for over 45 minutes at the Student Activities Center bus stop for a bus that would come in the next hour, long after the game had already started! As I was struggling to get into a line that boarded one of the quicker buses, I looked at my phone: 7:30.
I got on and began searching for a seat among loud screaming fans who were throwing punches at each other, the seats, the air, or anything that took up space, and among screams and chants so loud that I was afraid the driver might pull over on the side of the road and walk away never to return. I would have.
But it was understood. After all, this was a college football game and the spirit is what keeps it exciting. However, I honestly did not expect “spirit” to mean screaming in strangers’ faces and slapping each other with facial tattoos. That wasn’t in the manual. Maybe I’d do the same to the people I meet at the tailgate, and we could all show our loud spirit together. But even though I don’t know much about football, I doubt the tailgate would still be going on at 7:52. I only had a short time to meet up with my friends before going into the stadium.
When we finally arrived, getting across the street and into the stadium wasn’t a problem, since all I had to do was present my $99 season pass for this game and I’d be in. What was a problem, however, was that by the time I climbed the steps to the large arena overlooking the field, it was 8:15! Game started, people sitting, screeching at touchdowns happening by the other team, and me trying to find where I could sit with the people I was supposed to meet. I texted them, and this was basically how it went down.
Me: I’m here where u guys at?
Friend: In the stadium
Me: Yea I kno but where?
Friend: In the stands with all the people
Me: Could u tell me where without describing the entire stadium?
Friend: Sorry man. We across the US flag
Me: That’s half the stadium
Friend: No idea man…
Me: Can u come up to the entrance so we can go to the seats together?
Friend: Nah too many people. Don’t wanna move.
Me: What’s ur row number?
(Loud screaming continues from the stadiums)
Me: Aight forget it let’s try to meet at halftime
It’s ok, I thought. They’re here at least, and I might as well try to find a seat so I can enjoy part of the game before we meet at halftime. I scrambled my way to the seat entrance, where an attendant asked for my ticket, which I had dropped on the way up there. By some miracle, I found it, and after waiting in a newly-formed line to show it to the attendant, I was finally getting to the seats. The details of this seat-finding adventure primarily consisted this: people refusing to move over, only doing so wishing they could punch me, and me finding one in the middle of two people who were with a group of twelve having the time of their lives. They must have thought I was an idiot. I certainly did.
The lights were on. The cheerleaders were cheering and doing cool stunts. The giant monitors showed replays and the events going on in the stands. The music blared over the loudspeakers as the fans continued to scream even before the down started. I could barely hear myself wishing I was with my friends. Still no touchdown from our team. Nothing too unusual. At some point from my very “comfortable” seat, I heard the chant, which I would say but I don’t want to include profanity in this post. Let’s just say I didn’t do it right during the game, much to the dismay of those around me.
After falling into the gap between the bleachers for the nth time (what do you expect? Those fans just wouldn’t move over), I gave up on trying to regain my footing and decided I was hungry. Climbing the long steps back up to the entrance, I found the line for food and decided to have a pretzel, chicken strips, and a soda. Not so surprisingly, a group of 5-8 people came and stood front of me like they didn’t have a care in the world. I was going to ask them to let me through, but all of them against me wasn’t a fair battle. So I just decided to wait, and pray that they weren’t waiting for ten or more of their friends to show up. Halftime would be soon, after all.
Then they all started laughing, I don’t know why, but all of a sudden they just randomly burst into roars and pointed at each other saying “Remember when” or “Like that time” or “Yo” and getting cut off by their own laughter. More laughing and more pointing and poking, none of which would have been a pain if they weren’t still doing it while it was their turn to order food. The guy at the counter looked at me, I shrugged my shoulders, he shook his head, and tried again to get the guys’ attention. When the guys finally stopped, only then did they start thinking about what they wanted to order, while laughing in between words. When they left, I wasn’t in the mood for chicken strips anymore, so I just ended up having the pretzel, which was cold because the man at the counter left the door open while trying to get the attention of the laughing jocks. The Mountain Dew was sweet though.
And after struggling to find another seat at over half the stadium, and seeing none of the touchdowns being scored by us so far, I was happy to note that halftime had finally arrived. I whipped out my phone in the hopes of seeing my friends for the rest of the game. In a nutshell, this is what happened.
Me: It’s halftime. Where u guys at?
Friend: Going back to our dorm. We left like 15 minutes ago. Sorry man
(No further response from me, even to this day)
It wasn’t just his group. Half the stands were empty by the time the game resumed. At least finding seats wouldn’t be a problem anymore. I tried to enjoy the game as much as I could, but all I saw was watching was people running, getting tackled, thrown to the ground, and being pummeled. There was also the main situation out in the field, where OSU was scoring all the touchdowns.
After watching more people pour out of the stadium, and remembering that the next day I had to study for a chem exam the next week, I decided it was finally time to call it a chaotic football game night. I left the stadium to get on the bus back to College Ave. Even though the experience turned out very differently than my high school football experiences, I was still happy for Rutgers when I finally heard the cannons fire as the bus left the stadium. Maybe it would get better for the fans still in the stands. Those of you who have not been to a game yet, I’m basically talking about how Rutgers finally scored a touchdown by the time I left the stadium.
All in all, this may not have been the experience I originally planned to have, but it was still quite a memorable one in its own way. College life is full of surprises, some pleasant and some not, but it was still nice to relive this experience so I could learn from my mistakes, and hopefully readers can too. I look forward to what experiences, or chaos I may face in the future. Unfortunately, this was the last football game I had gone to during my first year due to other commitments on the dates of the later games, but I have no doubt it won’t be the last one I go to in all my years here at Rutgers.
If I had a new school year’s resolution, I would ask people to go to the game with me in advance instead of the day of, and to actually get to the stadium before the game starts. For that, I might have to rethink my idea of “extra early…”