We all know that 2020 has been anything but normal. The world has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and since March, the U.S. has been at the forefront of conversation regarding the proper handling of the virus.
One of the bigger changes University of Wisconsin students have been adapting to this semester is the lack of Badger football games.
Freshmen don’t have a clear understanding of game day besides the countless stories, photos and videos they have seen prior to their time in Madison, but for everyone else, we know what we are missing. Waking up for a game day in Madison just feels different. Everyone radiates a completely different energy on Saturdays.
“There’s nothing like a Badgers game day in Madison. The city comes alive every Saturday, I’ve never experienced anything like it anywhere else,” UW senior Dani Mohr said.
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Badger football and the Madison game day experience are synonymous with countless traditions.
Most people start their day early with a huge breakfast before making their way to what seems like an endless amount of house parties and tailgates. People are everywhere, and State Street is absolutely flooded with Badgers fans.
“I wake up, roll out of bed probably a little too close to game time and as soon as I walk out the front door, I just feel energy,” UW junior Mark Kutschke said. “Everyone is up and ready to go and in a rush to get after some game day festivities. There’s no other way to describe it than by calling it an electric atmosphere. I’ve never had a bad game day and I think it’s really hard not to have a good time.”
Similar to Kutschke, UW senior Jack Hatton also misses the energy everyone has waking up on game day.
“I would say that I wake up on game day with just as much, if not more, excitement than I do on Christmas,” Hatton said.
When tailgates wrap up, everyone makes their way to the stadium, where most students have to walk through the Camp Randall Memorial Arch before making their way to their seats. This is known as the Arch March, and it has been tradition in Madison since 2003.
Mohr said one of her favorite game day traditions is the walk to the stadium.
“Before the game, everyone walking from the Southwest campus has to enter through the Camp Randall Arch before entering the stadium,” Mohr said. “It’s a sea of Badger fans dressed head to toe in red and white.”
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After everyone makes their way through the gates and to their seats, the energy is unmatched. Over 80,000 fans, all in one place, wearing the same colors and rooting for a Badgers win is one of the coolest things you can lay your eyes on.
“Walking into the student section feels like a massive family reunion every time you take to the benches,” Mohr said. “Simply nothing compares to cheering and screaming in your section where nobody is ever a stranger.”
This is just the start of the traditions every Badgers football fan has come to know and love. Once everyone is in their seats and the game is underway, the student section takes part in a variety of chants, some directed at the other half of the student section, others directed at the opposing team and of course, a multitude of chants directed at pumping up the Badgers.
As the game progresses, chances are that the wave has made its way around the stadium multiple times already. If you’re unfamiliar with the wave, it’s when successive groups of fans take turns standing, raising their hands and shouting when their turn comes around, then immediately sit down.
While the chants and cheering are some of the best parts of being inside Camp Randall on game day and continue throughout a majority of the game, four of the best traditions associated with Badger Football come later in the game.
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Everyone who has seen a Badgers game, whether that be on TV or live at Camp Randall, knows about “Jump Around.” At the end of the third quarter, a section race is displayed on the jumbotron in the stadium.
Every student who attends the game is in a section, lettered from I to P, and each section has a letter represented in the section race. Once the section race concludes, the entire stadium holds up four fingers to represent the fourth quarter, and then chaos ensues.
The loudspeakers in the stadium blast House of Pain’s hit song “Jump Around,” and the whole stadium starts jumping.
Personally, this is one of the coolest things I have ever experienced and it is something that I am going to miss the most once I graduate, but I know I’ll always be able to come back to Camp Randall for Badgers games and take part in the tradition.
Following “Jump Around,” during a timeout in the fourth quarter, the loudspeakers also play “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations. The entire stadium screams the lyrics while the song is blasting, and continues to sing even when the song is cut off in order for play to resume on the field.
The best tradition comes at the end of the game, or during the “Fifth Quarter” as Badger fans like to call it. The band takes the field and plays various songs, including the Wisconsin alma mater “Varsity,” where fans join together and sway back and forth while singing the lyrics.
Mohr said one of her favorite traditions besides the Arch March is “hugging everyone surrounding you and screaming ‘Varsity’ entirely off-pitch.”
Stefan Grbic, a sophomore at UW-Madison, explained what he misses most about game day are social gatherings, which are strictly limited and borderline forbidden this year given the severity of the coronavirus.
“I miss being able to celebrate my school with all of my friends. The energy is still there this year, but it’s nothing like what it used to be,” Grbic said.
Badger fans are still able to enjoy watching games from afar this season, but the experience just isn’t quite the same. Hopefully next fall we can all jump around together once again.