How to get involved in a Big Ten school when you dislike sports


Quentin Shaw

Illinois quarterback Chayce Crouch runs for a touchdown in the game against Purdue at Memorial Stadium on October 8. The Illini lost 34-31.

By Jessica Bursztynsky, Interim Editor in Chief

Sports and I go together like an exam and Unofficial: not very well.

Going into one of the largest sports schools in the nation, I spent a solid amount of time with a puzzled look on my face as people talked about what famous alumnus lived in my dorm (Scott Hall) or who just got recruited to play what.

Each weekend, I woke up to my street closed off and the loud sounds of an announcer declaring some sports lingo during the Saturday morning football games.

I would usually spend that time on a run or at the gym, enjoying the emptiness of the space around me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good tailgating session. Alumni drinking mimosas in their fold-out chairs and current students getting acquainted with drink deals at Block makes for a fun, social event. But something about physically going to the game just did not appeal to me.

Eventually, my dislike caught up with me. My dad scored free, good-quality tickets to the Dad’s Weekend game against Michigan State, and I agreed to go. Was it for the guaranteed trip with him to Firehaus? Possibly.

And so there I was, headed in my gray University sweater to my very first game on campus.

If it’s your first time heading to a game, don’t worry about the actual game right off the bat.

Take a few minutes to look around Memorial Stadium and Grange Grove. It was recently renovated, so it’s pretty snazzy. Before the game is also a great time to grab a drink (family bonding?) or a snack from the vendors.

Eventually, you’ll make your way across the massive stadium to find your seat.

Try not to get too flustered when you realize you’ve climbed the entire set up stairs and realize you need to go back down and go up to the other side.

So you’ve gotten your 10,000 steps in, now what? The game starts, you’ve taken your photos, and eventually, the crowd will get you pumped up enough to realize maybe sports aren’t all that bad.

Heck, maybe you’ll even start to cheer along with the words on the screen.

Fighting Illini won against Michigan State that day, so maybe that’s what did it for me. It was nice to see all of the families bonding and friends cheering for the Illini, which helped my disdain a bit.

Even though I didn’t understand half of it, nor did I try to learn, I enjoyed the experience and would, maybe, go back again in the fall.

Going to a Big Ten school requires you to go to at least one game – whether that be football, basketball or lacrosse. Just try to go in with an open mind and be excited about the experience – these are your college years after all.

Jessica is a junior in Media.
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