Assuming you’re like most people who are heading into their first year at Michigan State, you probably have purchased your season tickets for football or you are planning on buying a couple of tickets throughout the season off some friends or Facebook.
The Michigan State football game day experience is one that almost all freshmen partake in one way or another. But you might be asking yourselves, what am I supposed to do? What are the chants? How soon do I arrive? What if I want to leave early?
I’m here to help you. Not out of the kindness of my heart, but selfishly as I want you all to be on your best behavior, plus I want us upperclassmen to not immediately be able to pick you out as you awkwardly stand there with your phone in your hand as the alma mater starts to play.
Pre-game is perhaps one of the most important parts of the Michigan State football experience. Timing, activities and rate of your consumption of food and beverage are key. You may be going to a tailgate with your family or friends before. The key thing here is keeping an eye on the clock and watching what you eat and drink.
I’m going to tell a little story about myself here. Prior to Michigan State-Penn State in 2019, I ate way too many hamburgers at the Case Dining Hall with friends. I spent the entire time outside the gate to get in, running back and forth to the port-a-potty. I then spent the first half inside the Spartan Stadium bathrooms holding one of what is seemingly four toilets in Spartan Stadium.
Moral of the story, keep anything you’re eating … or drinking in mind before you go. You don’t want to miss those moments in Spartan Stadium in the bathroom.
Arriving at Spartan Stadium, getting your seat
Timing is everything when it comes to arriving at Spartan Stadium.
First, know who you are going with to the game. If someone in your group is going to dawdle, be sure they start getting ready sooner than usual. As a freshman, you might not know the personalities of your group, so be sure to plan ahead and communicate that to your group.
Upon entry, you will be given a wristband with a color. That color corresponds to your section. If it is the same as in previous years, the pink section is the closest.
An insider tip from a senior: If you want to sit nice and close in the pink section for a lower opponent on the schedule like Western Michigan or Rutgers, you will want to arrive somewhere between an hour to an hour and a half before gates open. For big games like Ohio State or Wisconsin, probably closer to three hours before the gates open.
Also, there is a part of the student section that is actually shaded with the overhang over the press box. For this, arrive near game time to avoid the sun on hot days or the bad weather in the late fall.
I won’t bore you with the words of the fight song or the alma mater because at some point you’ll get a keychain that will be attached with words to each. The fight song you will sing plenty and no, nine times isn’t enough.
You sing it every time.
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At the end of the game, win or lose, you stay and put your arms around your fellow Spartans and sing the alma mater. No exceptions.
There are two things that are the most important to the student fan experience. First, if someone says, “Go Green” to you, respond with “Go White” and don’t ask any questions. When the crowd is saying it back and forth, get both of your arms up and point them in the direction of the people you want to say the corresponding phrase to.
Second, bring your keys. Every third down the Spartans are on defense, I better see those keys jangling right in front of your face. I don’t care if you only have your room key, have them out.
Before the game though might be my favorite tradition. Prior to the game, the announcer will address the stadium with the weather forecast. Rain or shine, at the end you must yell with the crowd, ‘It’s aaaaaaaa beeeeautiful day foooooooooorrrrr football!.’ It does not matter if it is a blizzard or a monsoon, you say that every time. You didn’t go to a Big Ten school to complain about it being cold.
After every Michigan State first down, wait for the rest of the crowd to get into it and get into sync, but you must yell, “One, two, three,” clap, then, “First down, B----!” Again, no exceptions. Don’t miss it.
The new tradition at Michigan State is that when the team runs onto the field Fast Life Yungstaz’s Swag Surfin’ plays. Last year it drove me crazy to watch the student section with half energy partake in linking arms and shifting from side to side or Swag Surfin’ like they just woke up five minutes ago.
So please, do us all a favor in making us look good, put your phone down and Swag Surf. They got rid of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ after we complained enough, let’s pay it back.
The rest of the hand motions and things will come with practice and careful observation, but these are key.
When to leave
If you’re a football degenerate like me, you stay until the final whistle. I mean, you did pay for the ticket after all, why waste that time?
But let's be honest, most of you have plans after. Places to go, more important things to do than watching Michigan State get beat up by Ohio State for the sixth consecutive season. Sorry for the lack of optimism, but when the Buckeyes have outscored Michigan State 142-29 during your college tenure, you lose faith.
At a bare minimum, barring some type of immediate emergency, you stay at least until halftime. The only time it is acceptable to leave at halftime is in the midst of a large blowout. Some examples this year may be Western Michigan, Akron or Ohio State. However, it is only acceptable to leave if the margin between the two teams is 25 points or more.
In the case of a noon game blowout, I still believe it is unacceptable to leave before the third quarter ends as you have the entire day ahead of you. The other activities you are planning to partake in can wait until 3-3:30 p.m.
As for a fourth-quarter departure, you stay until the game is in hand. If you get under the three-minute mark in a game and Michigan State has the ball on first down and is up by 10 or more points, you’re free to go. Any more time than that or the other team having possession still leaves Michigan State in the danger zone of losing. This may be more of a feel-it-out situation, but stay until you feel the game is safely over.
Illinois in 2019 is the prime example of waiting. After going into the fourth quarter up 31-10, Michigan State lost in regulation 37-34 as now-incoming transfer Daniel Barker caught a touchdown pass for the Illini with five seconds to go to ice it.
Whatever you do with this information is up to you. All I can ask is that you show some pride, act responsibly and have a good time.
This story is part of our 2022 mail-home print issue. Read the entire issue here.
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