Yannick Mitchell is on a year abroad in America and will be reporting back on the culture of college sports in comparison to university sport in the UK. In Part One, he tackles American Football…
‘The most fun you can have with 93 000 of your best friends’ is what the purple and gold t-shirts say that surround the Tiger Stadium on game day at Louisiana State University- not far wide of the mark. Having spent last year deciding whether or not I can justify spending £50 on a day out watching a mediocre Ipswich Town side playing a poor quality Championship fixture, spending $80 on a season ticket watching one of the best college football (American) teams in the US was not such a dilemma.
The atmosphere generated in a 93,000 capacity stadium is completely insane with the student section in particular enjoying themselves after a day ‘tailgating’ which involves drinking a lot of beer and cooking a lot of food. The pre-match build up includes fireworks, cheerleaders and the team mascot, Mike the Tiger – not a grown man dressed as a tiger, but a real tiger.
This in itself is a massive difference between college sports and University sports in the UK but one of the other major differences is the extent to which the whole city of Baton Rouge is involved with the team. Walmart sells the team merchandise, billboards across the city show LSU colours and I even saw a Lamborghini in purple and gold tiger stripes. The extensive media coverage is another huge difference. College football games are often on ESPN or other sports networks so you can watch your college team play when they’re away from home.
I even saw a Lamborghini in purple and gold tiger stripes
LSU are 4-0 this season with the toughest fixture so far coming up this weekend away to Alabama. The last 3 games have seen confident performances from the Tigers spark talk of a championship winning season. With 8 games still to play including Alabama, who are ranked first in the country, it is definitely going to be an exciting time in Louisiana. Zach Mettenberger is the quarterback that the whole state hopes can continue his solid early season form.