Life is But a Game
Jocktastic! Top 10 Schools Where Sports Rule
The camaraderie, the rivalry, and the thrill of the game are not only appealing, but often believed to be an essential part of the All-American college experience. Sure, there are some students who chose to observe sports from afar (or not at all), but for most, being obsessed with college sports is a way of life. We scored 30,000 student votes to identify the Top 10 Schools where the Big Game is a Really Big Deal.
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is all about football. “If you absolutely abhor football, you might want to hide between the months of September and December … when Tuscaloosa becomes overrun with tailgaters, and high-pitched shouts of ‘roll tide’ constantly fill the air. School spirit, meet overdrive … it is hard to resist joining in with the other 92,000 people singing the fight song whenever our team scores a touchdown.” “My favorite thing about this school is the football games. Just seeing everyone in crimson and white, all those tailgaters out on the quad…” “There is so much school pride here around sports, even an out-of-state kid like myself (who had no UA affiliation before college) becomes a raving lunatic when football season rolls around. Students can literally walk up to a random person's tent on the quad, and they'll let you sit with them and watch the game. I met one of my best friends randomly at a home football game because we got so excited towards the end of the game that we were jumping up and down and hugging each other. Being a die-hard Crimson Tide fan is honestly one of the most exhilarating experiences I've ever had in my life.”
University of California-Los Angeles
At UCLA, “Athletic events are king.” “Football and basketball games are always huge hits.” Students report “it is definitely true that we are all sports obsessed…athletic events are the most popular events on campus, bar none.” And it helps to have an enemy right next door: “You have to check out ‘Beat USC’ week, when we have the football game against USC and there are events all weekend to support our school and to show school pride.” “We are one of the country’s elite athletic schools, and our rivalry with USC is second to none.” “I will always remember…being at the USC v. UCLA football game when we beat them 13-9. I will always remember that.” As a final student notes, “I can definitely tell you, UCLA loves its athletics.” We’ll say.
University of Florida-Gainesville
The University of Florida – Gainesville is home to two remarkable sports programs. These two programs are so remarkable that the decibel level they regularly inspire amongst students and fans is a point of pride: “93,000 people fill the stadium for every football home game in the fall, and they make enough noise you can hear it all the way across campus. Basketball isn’t any different. Even in bad years, the arena is one of the loudest buildings you will ever set foot in in your life.” “Athletic events are hugely important, and everyone is a Gators fan.” “Professors and students alike love this school, and love the sports teams like no other. You will never forget any of the (up to) 28 Saturdays you'll spend watching football at the Swamp.” “Sports at UF are life. The Gators dominate, they are amazing, and they have three national titles to prove it. Go Gators!”
University of Georgia
The sometimes-sleepy town of Athens, Georgia springs to life for the Georgia Bulldogs football team. “This is one school that is positively obsessed with football. Over 90,000 fans flock to Athens every single Saturday in the fall.” Think football isn’t your thing? If you come to the University of Georgia, that will quickly change. “Football is just HUGE here. There is nothing like a fall Saturday where there is a football game. Even if you are not a football fan, you will fall in love.” “I’ll always remember learning how to bark for the Bulldogs for the first time. GO DAWGS!” Basically, “the football games and school spirit are amazing! It's a lot of fun. It’s so, so great to be a Georgia Bulldog.” “My ultimate favorite thing about UGA is football season, it is my favorite time of the year. I always wanted to go to a bigger, southern state school, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed every aspect that comes along with that.”
Louisiana State University
At Louisiana State University, football serves as a sort of regional religion. As one sophomore explains, “the Florida football game this year made me cry, and I walked away from the stadium (after being there for 6 1/2 hours) without a voice from cheering.” In 2007, the Tigers took home the BCS National Championship for the second time in four years, so it’s no wonder the LSU community has so much Tiger pride – and undergrads love the game day culture that dominates campus life every fall. “There is nothing better than spending the day tailgating with 100,000 of your closest friends, followed by a Saturday night in Death Valley for a Tiger football game,” remarks one sophomore. Sports life is inescapable here, even when students wander into nearby Baton Rouge. “Baton Rouge is definitely a college town – and life centers on sports, drinking while watching sports, and tradition. No matter where you look, whether it is on stores' signs, banners, T-shirts, advertisements, etc., there is a huge display of athletic and school pride.” Sports are so ingrained in the LSU culture that “many people say LSU stands for ‘Louisiana Sports University.”
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan’s Wolverine’s are a powerhouse in the Big Ten, with 11 national titles to their name. As such, it’s no surprise that their stadium, the “Big House”, draws “2/3 of the student body” to “every Saturday home game.” “The fall in Michigan is amazing!” explains a sophomore. “You'll never forget your first football Saturday...Even if you're not a huge football fan the spirit is unreal! Everyone is decked out in maize and blue - I would definitely say there is a lot of school pride.” “Michigan fans are very energetic”, and “everyone from the overweight tuba player in the band to the drunken frat boy cheers their hearts out. It unites everyone.” This isn’t to say football is the only game in town – “at U. Mich, hockey and men’s basketball also have their fair share of fans.” Overall, if you’re a college sports junkie, Michigan may be the place for you.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
While many of the schools on this list are football havens, UNC – Chapel Hill shines most brightly when it comes to a different sport: “When I tell people I go to UNC, they immediately ask if I go to the basketball games.” “UNC is all about basketball. Tickets are hard to get. The entire town is consumed with our basketball teams, with (peaceful) riots on Franklin Street after our big victories. The UNC-Duke rivalry is arguably the most intense rivalry in the nation, and watching the game anywhere in Chapel Hill is an incredible experience.” “Carolina basketball is to live for! It is amazing to get to go to the games for free as a student (or, for the fee your parents play…” While “all athletic events are wildly popular on campus,” and “intramural sports also get some love,” when it comes down to it, “at UNC, basketball reigns supreme.”
University of Notre Dame
“For most students, whether you grew up with it or not, Notre Dame = Football,” writes a junior business major. “In Fall, football is all you do on the weekends. Win or lose, there will be a massive party to celebrate (or drown your sorrows) every Saturday night.” Another students says: “Football season is just insane.” “Notre Dame is not in a college town, but even the town comes alive for football games.” “Because sports are so big here, almost all of the students who are attracted tot his school are athletes themselves, or at least interested in one kind of sport or another.” “But mostly, it’s about football. If you don't like football, at Notre Dame, you'll learn to love it. Or you’ll be shunned. One or the other.”
Ohio State University
“How can you come to Ohio State and not be a fan of our football team, the Buckeyes? I bet there are a lot of people who came here just for the Buckeyes, shallow as that is. But look at the bigger picture—people come here because they want to be known as Buckeyes, they want to be known as being part of the school with the best damn band and the best damn football team in the land.” One student says: “Football season here has students pouring themselves into all kinds of football traditions. Everything from jumping in Mirror Lake to yelling ‘O-H! I-O!” at each other around campus.” “Academics are sorta secondary at OSU. They come after sports.” Another student agrees: “A lot of people here have sports superiority complexes. If you don’t like football, prepare to be ridiculed.” “Even if you aren’t a sport fan, chances are you will still enjoy a great game of Buckeye football at OSU.”
University of Texas at Austin
Sports culture dominates the social scene at UT Austin, especially during football season. Football games are always sold out, packed full with students and alums (who tend to continue to support the Longhorns in large numbers long after graduation.) “Much of campus life revolves around the events of the Longhorn football team. From tailgating to road trips to national championships, UT football unites the entire student body,” writes an alumna who majored in communications. “Home football games are especially crowded – they facilitate a lot of the UT social atmosphere. There’s a lot of school spirit that comes from sports. This is even truer when it comes to games against neighboring Texas schools, not to mention the University of Oklahoma.” “Game days are always full of activities, starting with tailgating and (really often) ending in victory parties.” For more than one student plowing through the intense workload at UT, the sports scene helped keep them sane. “The best thing about UT is the sporting events. Without having them as a release, I probably would have gone crazy.”