You Americans love your college teams. This is a bit of a culture shock for me. Back home in the UK, whilst there is a sense of pride in supporting our university teams, religiously showing up to every home game or travelling to select away games is just something we don’t do. Perhaps once or twice a year for a particularly big rugby fixture at my university in Exeter, we’ll head over to Sandy Park, home of Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, to cheer on the boys. Well, actually, going to watch the game is really just an elaborate cover up for mates to get together and spend an evening drinking too many overpriced beers, shouting insults at the opposition, and, every now and then, paying attention to what’s happening on the pitch.
My experience of following the Bobcats in my short time here has been worlds apart from my experience of college sports back home. I sit in my Monday morning class watching people desperately trying to secure tickets for the weekends game, then I watch campus become a sea of blue and yellow on game day. It is a really eye opening phenomenon. In the U.K., you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows what team we’re playing each week, let alone someone who goes to every game.
The upcoming ‘Brawl of the Wild’ game highlights even more of a difference in attitudes between the U.K. and U.S. when it comes to college sports. I don’t think it’s best to compare the Brawl to university clashes in the U.K. To me, it seems more apt to draw parallels to much higher levels of sport. The ‘Brawl of the Wild’ to Montana is what the Manchester Derby is to us or what El Clásico is to the Spanish. If a university team in the U.K. was able to sell out a game in a stadium of nearly 18,000, chances are we’d all be dreaming—it just would not happen. The level of support college teams receive in the U.S. Some U.S. teams sell out their stadiums with a capacity way higher than that of Wembley Stadium, the national stadium in the U.K.
The game this weekend will be a real eye opener for me. My last experience of college sport back was standing in a muddy field in Devon with about 30 other people. This is miles away from what can be expected come Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. I’m far from knowledgeable when it comes to American football, but I have my fingers crossed the Bobcats come away with the win to make it four in a row. All there is left to say is— go Cats go!