Editor’s note: This “article” first appeared in 2011 and has not in any way been updated at all since then oops. We’ll call it a flashback or something and many of the lessons still apply.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that when you chose to come to Northwestern over the University of Crapcago, you did not decide to do so because of NU athletics.
See, this one time, Northwestern football decided to lose 34 straight games just for fun. And then, this other time, Northwestern basketball decided to never make the NCAA Tournament. As a joke. And it’s really fucking funny.
But there is some good news! Northwestern football is on the best tear in school history—having made (and lost) three straight bowl games—and this year we even have a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender/all-around-stud at QB. The basketball team had their best season ever last year, making it to the “elite” eight of the mediocrefest that is the NIT. On top of that, our women’s lacrosse team is pretty much the best thing to hit women’s sports since Hope Solo.
With these shining beacons of hope in mind, it may be even more important than ever this year that you understand the necessary procedure for attending sporting events.
Most years, football games start promptly at 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings. This means you have to be ready to catch a bus to Ryan Field (they’re free all along Sheridan) by 10:30. That means you need to be up and pregaming by about 9:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. That’s right: you need to be doing shots hours before noon. And while this may sound dreadful, some of your fondest memories will be made sitting on a desk killing a $15 handle of vodka eight hours before it begins being socially acceptable to do so.
But this year the scheduling and Big Ten Network gods have smiled upon us and granted Northwestern two night games. This should make things significantly more manageable. You’ll have time to sleep, eat, study and then either head to a tailgate or pregame in your dorm.
Once you’re properly imbibed, you can take the bus to the stadium and—with your WildCard—enter the game for free. You’ll soon find, however, that NU football is not like most of the college football you’ve seen on TV. It’s in a smaller stadium that’s often less than half full, and has a nasty tendency to become infected with fans of the road team. (Warning: Michigan State fans seem to think that chanting their school’s colors somehow is worthy of admiration. They fail to recognize how many baby seals will die as a result of their atrociousness). But it is still certainly a fun experience, particularly when the team is good. We here at The Ave highly recommend that you attend many many games and yell really loudly about how good Northwestern is. If you don’t, Rick Perry will come shoot your coyote.
Fortunately, these games usually come at night. Unfortunately, they also often come on weeknights. You’ll find, however, that the concept of a weeknight is much more of a vague notion than a strict rule in college. As such, you will want to once again begin pregaming well in advance, then catch the bus to Welsh-Ryan Arena, which is attached to the football field. Students also get into basketball games for free, and while the arena is pretty small, the proximity of the student section (located behind the baskets) to the newly redesigned court makes for a pretty good atmosphere.
You’ll quickly find, however, that Northwestern basketball is absolutely determined to break your heart. The team is pretty talented and has a tendency to exceed expectations just enough to make you believe — to make you actually think for just that one moment — that anything is possible, and that if you just suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride your wildest dreams could actually come true. Then they lose by 40 in Champaign and you go back to your Chem midterm.
Still, you’ll want to attend a healthy number of basketball games, if only for the truly awesome halftime entertainment. Plus, this team has as good a chance as any in NU history to finally make it to March Madness. Which would be cool I guess. Except the fucking tournament’s during finals week so we’d all just ignore it anyway. Whatever. Go ‘Cats.
While football and basketball are the two biggest spectator sports at Northwestern, it’s worthwhile to look into the others as well. As I previously mentioned, NU Women’s Lax is to women’s field sports as Petra Ecclestone is to lavish, ubercapitalist weddings. The laxin’ ladies won their sixth national championship in seven years this spring and thoroughly pwned all n00bs along the way. I’ve been told their games are even more fun than a Mudford and Sons dominationfest on a Sunday afternoon. That said, pregaming is highly recommended……Have you noticed a theme here?
Of course, there’s also soccer, baseball, hockey and a whole host of other games you can attend. Rumor has it that the women’s club hockey team really appreciates belligerent fans banging the glass and screaming the fight song for the entirety of a 5-1 loss.
So go out there and show those big state schools just how much spirit we really have. Learn that fight song. Put your hand up in a weird sort of claw/paw thing and yell incoherently when we’re on defense. And never forget the apostrophe: Go ‘Cats.