I’ll admit that I wasn’t much of a college sports enthusiast, other than my years in college and during March Madness. It was watching the amateurs, when I’d rather watch the pros. My feelings about college sports have been flipped upside down in recent year as I’ve started taking my kids to college games. I am a now a big fan of college sports, and like a convert, I need to proselytize about why you should do the same and take your kids to college games.
Here are my five reasons:
1. Fun! College games are incredibly fun. The atmosphere is electric, possibly because the college kids are young and have tons of energy, but also they care pretty passionately. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the energy of the event. A friend who is not a sports fan told me she recently attended a college basketball game (of her own college’s rival, nonetheless) because a coworker was receiving an award. My friend surprised herself when she began cheering and rooting for the local team to win. Let yourself go and cheer for the college kids, with the college kids. It may just take you back in age a decade or two.
2. Much less expensive than the pros. Many college sporting events are free, but the ones that require a paid ticket, like football and basketball, are much, much cheaper than going to a professional game. The stadiums are smaller, allowing you and your kids to be closer to the action, delivering more bang for the buck. Many colleges offer family packs or other discounts, making it possible for a family of four to attend a college game for the price of a single pro game ticket.
3. Real action, up close. College athletes are good. This isn’t high school sports, and while it’s not professional either, the level of play is fairly close. A few of these athletes are a year away from going pro anyway. Plus, when a college athlete drops a pass or misses a basket, you don’t bemoan the multi-million dollar contract gaffe made by your team. No matter what your child’s sport – football, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, fencing, etc. – you can catch a college match. Let them see awesome soccer footwork up close or how water polo players earn those abs. It’s one of the most fun learning experiences around.
4. It’s a community builder. You don’t have to root for the biggest or best college around, just head out to the one closest to you. The options are plentiful in the Bay Area. You may not have gone to the school you are cheering on, but it’s about regional pride. Support the school closest to your backyard!
5. Kids meet colleges. It’s a fun, gentle immersion into thinking about college and the future. At a recent Stanford vs. Notre Dame game, my daughter asked about Notre Dame’s mascot, which led into a discussion of the Fighting Irish, Catholic schools, how Notre Dame began, and even Play Like a Champion Today. I don’t expect her to go to Notre Dame, but the exposure is still there. Her knowledge base was expanded.
Even if you don’t like sports, but your kids do, you will still have fun. And the next thing you know, you’ll be buying yourself a sweatshirt and some pom poms to go with your new spirit.