College football culture impressive

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Over the holidays, I was asked to make a pit stop in Toronto to attend the International Bowl at the Rogers Centre with four crazy football fans.

Now, football is not my thing. I can’t play, I don’t know most of the rules, and I have trouble following the game. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the experience.

The second annual International Bowl, held on Jan. 5, hosted the NCAA’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ball State Cardinals.

In the middle of a sea of red and white, I sat anxiously awaiting the start of the game; that meant it would be over sooner. I read the newspaper and browsed the program, knowing that anything was more exciting than the conversation occurring to my right.

But not long after I had wasted time hitting up the food stand (twice), the tides turned. I had been to a football game before, but there was something different about this one.

The teams stormed onto the field in perfect fashion and took part in a Remember the Titans-esque warm up, while the marching bands played their respective fight songs.

Following the aesthetically pleasing team stretch, the players headed to the locker room to prepare for the game. In the interim, the marching bands took to the field one after the other to play.

These were not your average marching bands " struggling to keep up with the music while they walk at a turtle’s pace. These bands danced, walked and ran in every direction, creating their school letters or team mascots with their bodies. I was impressed.

Aside from the on-field shenanigans, the stands were also an impressive show. The fans, hailing from all over Canada and the US were all equally enthused.

Both sides of the dome were filled with diehard fans cheering for their school, and I kid you not, most fans stayed standing for the entire game. Not only did they cheer non-stop, they sang along with the marching bands and danced with the dance team.

The fans were so invested in the game that they sometimes didn’t even notice when they were on the JumboTron. (Ignore the fact that I was clearly watching the JumboTron the entire time in order to notice this).

Although football still isn’t my thing, I admit that I may have cracked a smile at this game.

I still can’t play football and I still don’t understand most of the rules, but I definitely appreciate the excitement that accompanies NCAA athletics. Oh, and the football pants weren’t bad either.

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