There’s something different in the air during football season at Cal. Students show off their blue and gold colors just a little bit more—Yale blue (after our founders) and California gold (after the California Gold Rush). They get incredibly defensive about any ranking that contradicts us being the number one public university. And last but not least, they lose all productivity on Saturdays.
The pre-game festivities begin at an unholy hour. Music from Greek row makes its way into open windows and the smell of alumni tailgates spreads throughout the entire Southside. It’s the one day of the week when students can forget about upcoming midterms, paper deadlines, and internship interviews. My high school had 3pm Varsity football games that no one but the parents of the players attended. We barely won games in any sport; needless to say, school spirit was not common. My first Game Day at Cal was incredible. I was surrounded by thousands of peers who loved Cal as much as I did—who were actually excited about the football game. And the games did not disappoint.
The student section is called “The Bench,” because even though we aren’t on the field, we’re on the bench—supporting our team. You’ll find the students standing on the benches, yelling their hearts out. We’re a sea of blue and gold, of engineers and English majors, and of dancers and athletes. One day each week we all come together to support our Bears. For a girl with an atypical high school experience, home games are incredible. There’s a whole team of “micmen” that lead the entire student section in cheers. The Rally Committee leads The Bench in card stunts. And of course, the Cal Band performs each half-time. There’s hot chocolate and popcorn for purchase; there’s chicken fingers and French fries for sale. And to state the obvious, there’s the complete uncertainty of how the California Bears will play.
Attending a large university has its perks, and football games are definitely one of them. They bring the entire student body together and raise school spirit more than I ever could have imagined. I’m proud to wear blue and gold, and I can’t wait to lose my voice cheering on the California Bears.