Root for Illini: Show support for your University sports teams

University+students+in+the+Orange+Krush+fan+section+cheer+for+the+Illini+basketball+team+during+their+match+against+Iowa+on+March+8.+In+the+fall%2C+there+will+still+be+opportunities+for+sports+fans+to+support+Illinois%27+teams+while+keeping+up+social+distancing.

Cameron Krasucki

University students in the Orange Krush fan section cheer for the Illini basketball team during their match against Iowa on March 8. In the fall, there will still be opportunities for sports fans to support Illinois’ teams while keeping up social distancing.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Welcome to the University of Illinois! Sports at a Big Ten university are a pretty big deal. Even if you aren’t the biggest sports fan, attending or watching any game or match can still be a very fun and memorable experience. In your time here, you probably will have the opportunity to attend an Illini sporting event, so here’s a primer on what to expect.

Most of the sporting events are free to get into with an i-card; the only ones you have to pay for are football and men’s basketball. When the team hits the road, you can catch games on BTN, BTN+ or occasionally ESPN; it all depends on the team.

In the fall, the sport on campus to watch is volleyball. Illinois’ volleyball team is one of the best in the country and Huff Hall is routinely sold out. Every year, the volleyball team hosts Stuff Huff, where the fans pack into Huff Hall and proceed to be as loud as they can. Usually, the Illini are facing off against Nebraska or Wisconsin and it’s an awesome experience.

Other fall sports to watch include tennis and soccer, and you can catch those games at Demirjian Park or Atkins Tennis Center. Men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s gymnastics and wrestling will all compete before the end of first semester as well. Both basketball teams compete at State Farm Center while the gymnastics and wrestling teams compete at Huff Hall. 

If you want to go out to watch the game, here’s a whole host of places on campus to go:

  • The Illini Union: Usually, they’ll have a watch party for a football, basketball or volleyball game in the Courtyard Cafe, and occasionally they provide food. My friends and I went to the Illini Union’s watch party when the volleyball team went to the Final Four in 2018, and it was a good time.
  • KAM’s: KAM’s is the ultimate spot to watch a game. Everyone is all decked out in Illini gear and enthusiastically supporting their team.
  • Legends: It’s like KAM’s but less college bar, and more sports bar.
  • Have a watch party at home: Get a bunch of friends at an apartment or house party and watch the game. It’s a lot easier to maintain social distancing, and you’re not standing around a sweaty dance floor.

With the ongoing pandemic, sports are going to look different. Illinois is in Phase 4 of COVID-19 recovery as of July 1, so stadiums can have up to 20% capacity. You’ll have to wear a mask and stay six feet away from other fans, but BTN+ should have you covered if sports proceed.

[email protected]