Sports columnist shares game day rituals off field


Jonathan Bonaguro

Illini fans watch the game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Illinois’ game against Nebraska Saturday marks the beginning of the Big Ten regular season. The game will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.

By Tatiania Perry, Staff Writer

I love the ritual of game day and the preparation that starts days in advance and the almost mechanic way we prepare for games.

For me, game day begins about three days before kickoff. As a student, I have access to the football players’ social media, most importantly, Instagram stories and Snapchat. They go on these social media platforms and make videos of themselves, hyping each other up and talking about how much they’re going to dominate on game day.

It’s become part of my routine because seeing how excited they are for their next match up, no matter the outcome the week before, is always inspiring and exciting to watch. Usually, they’re in their world-class locker room doing odd things together, but it’s awesome to see how well the team connects with one another.

Next up, I look at the competition. I look up whatever team they’re playing. I  look up their stats. I look at their biggest players — if it’s not something I already know. I keep up with teams like Iowa or Michigan regardless, but for example, this week, Nebraska is a team I usually don’t care about until game week.

I’ll know their record, but I won’t know their star.

Next, I always ask my roommates if they want to go to the game. We won’t be sitting together as I’d be in the press box, but I always ask. Of course they say no because they don’t like sports, but every once in a while they surprise me and say, ‘yeah.’

Then, boom, it’s game day.

Due to Illinois’ unfortunate record the past few years, most of the games have been morning games, meaning my ritual doesn’t have a long-standing day off.

I usually roll out of bed about two hours before the game, grab my press pass, put on my business casual and mosey my way to the stadium.

I try to stay off social media so I don’t see pregame speculations. I don’t want to see them, and I don’t want to know what the fans are saying because y’all are mean sometimes, and I can’t start off my morning with such bad juju.

Fast forward to the stadium, I go straight up to the top, set up my spot, make my plate (yes, they feed us in the press box, and free food always tastes better) and make my perfect mix of raspberry iced tea and lemonade to sip on throughout the game.

I settle down at my station, fire up Twitter and allow the sarcasm to flow through my fingers.

Once the first tweet is released, I am fully in I’m-a-journalist-not-a-fan mode, but I’m only partially objective because I’m only human.

I love my game-day routine, but I’d love it more if it ended in wins more often than not.


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