Let me tell you a story. 
It’s more or less true, based on what I remember – I might have filled in some spots with other memories, but that’s how life goes; everything kind of blurs together after a while.

My first Badger football game as a student was a win over Washington State in 2007. It was the end of Welcome Week and in the middle of a Labor Day weekend where I was intent on making questionable decisions, so long as the opportunities presented themselves.

I was up at 8 a.m., still a bit woozy from the night (morning?) before. I trudged down to the 5400 floor of Liz Waters because Jon’s room was there. One of my best friends from home, Jon convinced me to come to Wisconsin. And he was about to convince me to drink Jaegermeister before breakfast.

I of course obliged, and began my liquid diet for the day. Facepaint was applied. We blared “Hot Time” and “Jump Around” and any other gameday song you can imagine on his iPod dock. If anyone on the east side of Liz didn’t know the words to “Cecilia” prior to that morning, they were quickly initiated, whether they liked it or not.

Jon’s sister’s boyfriend lived on Breese, so we weaved our way there after a few drinks named after hand tools and sea captains. His place was referred to as “The House of Sin,” for reasons you can probably imagine – and some you can’t. It’s a rust-red colored box of a home with a balcony whose railing looked ready to fall apart, a sunken garage and a front lawn full of beer-yellow grass.

We of course brought along a crew, as freshmen are prone to do. Some were lost in the sea of fans that scuttle up and down Breese and some disappeared to play flip cup in other yards or get shot down by upperclassman girls. But we eventually got there, received our cup and at times, enjoyed an eight-foot beer bong from the top of the garage. I wasn’t sure if I was willing to try to down a pitcher of Natty Ice through plastic tubing until I saw somebody’s grandfather do one. That may have been the point when I told myself, “I am proud to be a Badger.”

That sunny Saturday afternoon devolved into a routine: Drink, pee, refill at the keg, repeat. After all, these games go long and it would be a shame to sober up at halftime.

When we finally stumbled into Camp Randall, it was eight minutes into the first quarter. It took a while, but we were finally in. Jon made sure we got into Section O, because, well, it’s the best section, after all. After navigating the tunnels and emerging back into the blinding daylight, I looked up at the mountain of stairs we had to climb to reach open seating. Upper O meant upper O, I guess.

We reached our seats and began cheering whenever P.J. Hill got a touch and screamed every time Tyler Donovan threw an incompletion. There were all those distractions, too, of course. The Wave, like it or not, happened; the girls wanted to take pictures, partially because they were sentimental, partially because they knew they wouldn’t remember half of the day otherwise; there were cheers, some I followed, some I led. We coordinated the “We want more… beer” chant, and called out the assholes, which was appreciated at times and worked less at others. When you make your voice heard, it’s sometimes applauded, sometimes scorned; it’s a risk you take to get your voice heard.

The game itself, well, that was almost secondary. It was a reason to drink, a reason to enjoy the day, a reason to socialize. Not that it wasn’t important, but it was almost more of a framework upon which all the rest of the activities were based. Most of the plays were just minor details; a Luke Swan reception here, a Lance Smith run there. As long as the Badgers won, it was a success.

And of course, there was the Jump Around, the thing people knew about Badger games at Camp Randall. DJ Lethal cued up the horns and all of a sudden it was pandemonium. It was excitement and bouncing and by the time the first chorus rolled around, the tired legs and breathlessness meant it was a reminder of how out of shape and, well, old I felt.

The Badgers won, of course, 42-21, and ensured the Cougars would have a quiet trip back to Pullman. I made sure to note the final score, just in case Mom or Dad called to ask how the game was.

We filed back down those stairs and out of the stadium, just a few of the thousands who were headed for more drinking or naps or half-hearted attempts at studying. It was also time to wipe that damn metric ton of red paint off my face that I realized I never wanted in the first place. The long walk back to Liz meant there was plenty of time to recount the day and tell stories – except that the people who were still with you probably were there for the stories too, but you told them anyways because it’s fun to remember.

Those gamedays are special things, an excuse to forget about real life and enjoy some football. It’s always a little bit sad when gamedays end, but that’s how things go. The day is over and then it’s on to the next thing.

Adam is done. He also may have tried to sum up four years of college in one anecdote. In a week, he’s on to the next thing or whatever. Thanks for reading for the past two-plus years; it’s been a pleasure.