Maybe the professional game of football has its knacks, but college football has got something the NFL will never have. On Friday night, as I stood on the field after Arizona State’s massive, season-changing win over Arizona, I got a glimpse at something so much better.
It wasn’t the constant tension of being in the fourth quarter of a college football game. It wasn’t the excitement of knowing that it’s among the biggest rivalries in sports. It was the magic of the game. From the field, one glance upward and it’s overwhelming: the seas of heads and arms cheering in some distorted unison for one cause.
Even after the blocked punt and the ensuing silence, you could hear a quiet murmur among the Wildcats fans as they strung together a drive for their attempted comeback. Even after the clock had dropped below two minutes, the Arizona faithful climbed to the edge of their seats for the onside kick and potential tie.
The roar of the crowd after every play, whether it was the Wildcat fans or the visiting crowd, was deafening. The silence as a pass floated in the air, waiting to find its target, was spine chilling. The disgusted grunts of Arizona fans being drowned out by the ecstatic cheers from ASU’s traveling student section after every Matt Scott turnover was an incredible fusion of sound.
It doesn’t get better than that. I may have been out there as a journalist, but I soaked in that moment as a fan. ASU’s win was not only the biggest Sun Devils’ game I’d been to, but it was the best game of any sport, at any level, that I’d ever experienced in person.
If you don’t understand the spirit of college athletics, find a way to give them a chance. You can find just as many memorable bowl games and moments in college as you can in the pros. Sure, that’s just my opinion, and if you don’t agree with it, that’s fine, but at least give these games a chance to effect in you what they have in me.
There’s magic in the air. From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, from the closest games to the biggest blowouts. The passion and ferocity at an NFL game is nowhere near that of a college’s student section.
College football is a world where you might be finishing 1-11, but if that one win is against your team’s biggest rival, it can be deemed a successful season in your books. It’s a world where anything short of an undefeated season will probably keep a team from playing for a title.
Give it a chance. Maybe the players’ names aren’t in every household, but they’re playing as hard as a professional player is, and for most of these players, this is the end of the road. They’re playing for pride, not money. It doesn’t get better than that.
If you didn’t catch ASU’s win over Arizona on Friday night, you missed out. Start believing in college sports, catch the next rivalry game, and prepare for the ride of your life. Nothing compares to it.