Sit down and cheer

Diane Newberry, News Editor

Potato Bowl, September 2015: I was young, wide-eyed, naive – it was my first college football game! Ok, so I didn’t care about football. And, ok, so maybe I was only there because all of my newfound college friends were going and I wanted to fit in really, really badly – but I was excited nonetheless.

Oh, cool, everyone’s standing up. I wonder what we’re standing up for?

The national anthem’s over and we’re still standing? This must be a quirky college tradition. I’m part of something bigger now. I’m part of a tribe! Look at me, fitting in, standing up with everyone else for no apparent reason.

All right, so it’s about 20 minutes in now and we’re not sitting down. I imagined we would be sitting down at some point.

First, I thought we would be standing until our team scored. Our team scored and we still appear to be standing. Then, I thought maybe we would sit down after the first quarter. We’re still standing. Why? Why? Why are we standing?

When I ask this question to the people around me, they seem as clueless as I am. They’re standing because everyone else is standing. We’re lemmings, except we don’t even have the agency to walk off a cliff; we’re just standing.

At my freshman year Potato Bowl, I was surprised by the UND tradition of the student section standing for the entire game. No one had told me about it beforehand, and at the time, I reconciled my annoyance with the situation by trying to be charmed by the tradition and ritual that it evoked.

By my sophomore year, I wasn’t putting up with any nonsense. I once again went to the game because my friends were going. This year I dared to hope that people wouldn’t stand. I thought that maybe last year was a fluke, not so much a tradition as a weird accident of no one wanting to be the first to sit down.

Nope – there I was again, unhappily standing for two hours watching a game I didn’t even understand or care about. Bored, I attempted a social experiment. You see, I hadn’t quite given up on the idea that nobody wanted to be the first person to sit down, but if someone else did it, they would then feel inclined to give their feet a rest.

I convinced two of my friends to sit down with me. I felt a glimmer of hope as a couple sitting in front of us also decided to sit down and I heard a few girls behind us debate on whether or not to keep standing. Would my social statement gain momentum?

No. Even my friends abandoned me after a while, wanting to see the game. The girls behind us never did sit down, and while the couple did stay in their seats, they seemed more involved with each other than the game, enjoying the private space allowed to them at waist-level rather than resenting their fellow classmates. Useless.

There might be some reason for this tradition, possibly. I could have researched it before writing this, but I wasn’t going to do that because I don’t care.

I understand that my input may not be welcome in the sports realm, as I am not exactly what one would call a “sports fan.” But I don’t think that this forced Potato Bowl standing is a sacred part of sports culture. I suspect that it’s a silly habit passed on by generations of people too awkward to say anything about it.

Maybe I’m off base here – but I don’t think we should be forced to stand around like prisoners if we’re already subjecting ourselves to a football game.

Diane Newberry is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  [email protected]