The Freshman Vol. 1: Hitting the Road – A College Sports Fan’s Dream

Posted on October 1, 2011

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By Steve Goldberg

Jeremy Sickel and Geoff Ratliff, Editors

There’s no place like home, but traveling to see your school play on the road is an experience like no other. Last weekend, I took a bus trip down to Norman, Oklahoma to see my Missouri Tigers play the Oklahoma Sooners. I made the most of my one night in Norman, soaking up the game day atmosphere of 85,000 diehard fans, all with a passion for college football. It was unlike anything an East Coast guy like myself had ever seen before.

Although Mizzou lost the game 38-28, it was still one of the greatest scenes I have ever witnessed. This might sound crazy, seeing as how I have been to a World Series, a Stanley Cup Final, a Winter Classic, and even saw Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit live, but it’s true. These all compare to the college football game I went to Saturday night, not because of the significance, but because of the atmosphere surrounding the event.

It was just a regular season college football game that will be forgotten by most people by the time the season is over, but it is a night I will remember forever. It was an incredible experience, and all college sports fans should make a trip like this at least once in their lifetime. So find a road game on your team’s schedule, buy some tickets, pack up your car, and get ready for a weekend of insanity. Here is a little advice to help you make the most out of your trip.

1. Choose the right game:

When deciding which game to travel to, there are some things you should take into consideration. Try to keep travel time to no more than a day, but find a game that is more than just a few hours away. Missouri plays other opponents much closer to home, but traveling to Oklahoma allowed me to see a new part of the country and experience a different culture.

Also, consider which of your team’s road opponents play in an intense college sports setting. For example, if your team played road games in Tulsa and Norman, I would pick the latter. Excitement of the crowd on game day helps make for a better overall experience and a more memorable trip.

2. Be creative:

Before you leave for the game, come up with a clever way to make yourself stand out in the crowd. Make a sign or banner supporting your team, paint your body in your school’s colors, or make cardboard cutouts of your favorite player or the broadcasters, like I did. These are just a few examples of different ways to show your passion for the sport and your team.

3. Soak up the atmosphere:

Arrive at your destination early and spend time walking around the parking lot to different tailgate setups. Have conversations with fans of the home team to see if they share the same passion as you and discuss their experiences. Ask questions like, do they go to games frequently or do they travel with the team on the road? Just a little something to view the insight of rival fans to create a bond you won’t soon forget.

Home fans may also have suggestions for you to make the most out of your short stay in their town. Maybe there is a historic landmark to check out before the game, or a good restaurant to chow down at after the game. By chatting with the opposing fans, you may actually learn something new about their school, their traditions, or their town.

4. Be loud:

Once the game begins, don’t be afraid to support your team. Remember your school’s game day traditions and do everything you would normally do at a home game; stand up and sing your team’s fight songs, start team chants with other visiting fans that made the trip, and make noise when the home team has the ball. There is no greater feeling than being one of few people chanting in a huge stadium.

5. Explore the town:

Before or after the game, spend time exploring the college town. Take a walk around campus and see how it compares to your school. Check out some restaurants, shops, historic landmarks, and other popular places in and around the city. This will help give you an idea of college life in that particular town, although I would never dare transfer because I bleed Black and Gold.

These five steps helped me make the most out of my short stay in Norman, Oklahoma. I would recommend a college road trip to anyone who is passionate about their school and the sport. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I hope to have the opportunity to travel more during my four or five years as a student at the University of Missouri.

Steve Goldberg is a freshman sports journalist at the University of Missouri. You can follow him on Twitter @SG_Mizzou15 or find him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bostonfan93.

Posted in: The Freshman