I had always wanted to watch a football game [college football, not pro-football] live to get a feel of the atmosphere in such a giant stadium. Even here in Karnes City there’s quite a bit going on at the games of the high school team(s), but it IS – and that’s not meant deprecatingly – small town football. There usually are 200 – 300 spectators on a Friday evening. Well, actually I think that’s quite amazing for a small town of ca. 3,500 inhabitants. And the background is quite remarkable. But as said before, what I wanted to see was the real “big league” football, even if it wasn’t pro-football, and as Mary is a self-confessed football-fan – of the Longhorns, the team of the University of Texas at Austin – I had given her two tickets for the first game in the season [Longhorns vs. Wisconsin Cowboys] in Austin this Saturday as a present for our 3rd wedding-anniversary. And that’s where we went yesterday.
Mary wanted to be there fairly/very early, so as not to miss any of the preparations, which resulted in our being there as early as 4:15 p.m., with the game beginning at 7 p.m. only. We had parked ca. 15 minutes on foot away from the stadium [on a church parking-lot, btw, – the proceeds were meant to go to this church’s charity], and even that far away from the stadium we had to pay $20. But it really is a mass event and that makes parking-spots well sought-after. If I’m correct, there are no really big parking-lots close to this stadium, as it’s situated on the Campus – at least not parking-lots big enough to take this amount of cars , for a stadium of 100,000+ seating-capacity. Well, as said, in spite of the heat we strolled to the stadium.
Aside: no “big” cameras, i.e. with interchangeable lenses, were allowed in the stadium. And only small bags. Also not allowed were any type of beverages. Most probably they wanted to sell their own. But the good side of it: absolutely no alcohol in the stadium. And generally: with all the exuberance, which is sometimes considered really excessive to Germans like me, the fans are absolutely disciplined, something German soccer fans could copy. Oh, btw, not only the stadium but all of the Campus is a tobacco-free zone.
When we approached the stadium, this is how it presented itself to us:
The “Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium“, as it’s officially called.
Our seats were in section 8, immediately next to section 7, i.e. about level with one of the end zones, row 24 – which was really not bad a seating at all. The tickets, btw, had been $105 each – quite stiff for a single/simple ticket, isn’t it? [I checked the prices for next Saturday’s game, and they range from $25 to $650!] And well, in spite of the fact that they are not sent by mail but that you have to print them yourself, they charge you $4.25 for “delivery services”, in addition to an unspecified “service fee” of $25! Those guys know how to make money, don’t they?
The north side of the stadium, named after one of the sponsors, “Red” McCoombs:
Gate # 8
Long before the beginning of the game the band plays in the street, among others to greet the team upon their arrival:
The most important ;) male spectator of a crowd of over 100,000, befittingly in “burnt orange” colour, and with the Longhorns’ logo on his shirt and cap:
The stadium is still fairly empty, but it’s more than 1 hour to go to the beginning of the game anyway. But it was going to be filled nearly to its full capacity of 100,119 seats. Hard to believe to me, how many spectators come to such a game.
The most important female spectator ;) is still looking quite sceptically, but later she would brighten up as the Longhorns dispatched the Cowboys 37:17.
A view from our seats directly across the stadium really shows that enormous dimensions of this stadium [it is, btw, the only open stadium in the US with a capacity of more than 100,000 seats].
What has to be at every game of the Longhorns is “Bevo” [the present one is # 14 in a long row of distinguished steers], the Longhorns’ famous mascot, …
… as well as “Smoky, the Cannon“.
Smoky, btw, is being fired whenever the Longhorns score. Bevo used to be lead around the stadium, but nowadays is confined to his spot at the side of the stadium, and from there watched the game and the fans in complete stoical patience, as behoves a longhorn.
And then, more than 1 hour before the game begins, the teams start their preparations. The opposing teams loosens up:
The home team practises kicks:
… the twirler and the flags
Finally, the band itself appears …
… perfectly lined up:
No game without cheerleaders, of course:
And as is befitting for Texan cheerleaders for a team called “Longhorns”, these young ladies are wearing chaps, not made of leather, though, but of (a lighter) fabric.
The Marching Band plays “The Eyes of Texas Are upon You” while a absolutely gigantic Texas flag is presented, and more than 100,000 people join in that song, all of then showing the “Hook ’em, Horns” sign.
Some videos well worth seeing can be found here:
- The Eyes of Texas Are upon You
- The UT Longhorn Band
- Longhorn Band Halftime Show
- University of Texas Band
The precision with which this band marches is really remarkable.
One more remark about Texan self-image:
Even at the funeral service for Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the 36th president of the United States of America, Lyndon B. Johnson, this hymn was played/sung in church with everybody, the ministers included, showing the “Hook ’em, Horns” sign.
After every goal, which, as said above, is celebrated by firing “Smoky, the Gun”, the flags are run around the stadium …
… while the cheerleaders do somersaults: one for each point, and “Big Bertha” is also sounded once for each point.
And in the end it was 37:17 for the Longhorns:
A few final remarks:
Frankly, American football really isn’t my kind of team sports. I can’t get used to the basically limited number of possible different moves. I know, there are ever so many different variations, and a former student of mine, after having studied as a high school in America for a year, explained to me that you need to know every single one of the possible plays to be able to appreciate the game, but to my mind there are only tow basic moves: either you try to attack your opponents’ defense head on, attempting to muscle your way through, or the Quarterback throws a wide pass and the “Wide Receiver” catches it an runs towards the end-zone as if all the world’s devils were chasing him. It reminds me quite a bit of the former “kick-and-rush” system, practised by English teams. Football is, to my mind, limited by its rules, because, e.g., the Wide Receiver cannot, once he has got hold of the ball, throw it to one of his fellow players. Thus no nice combination such as in soccer is possible.
In addition to that, plays quite often only last for a few seconds, with much too long a break after that, while the teams form up anew. There’s not play that lasts really long – and “long” means just a minute or so. And the breaks are much too long, especially as there’s need for a TV commercial to be inserted – which means every 10 minutes. Then the game is quite simply interrupted for the duration of the commercial. All of which means you sit in the stadium for 3 to 4 hours for a game that has an actual playing-time of just 60 Minutes. I certainly prefer soccer: 90 minutes – maybe with a few additional minutes of injury time – plus a 15-minute break and that’s it, nearly no interruptions and plenty of playing. But then, that’s why soccer will never really catch on in the US as a team sports for the masses: no TV station will be interested in broadcasting soccer games as there’s not enough time for commercials. And that’ the Catch-22: as there’s not TV broadcast of soccer games, there’s no real interest by the public, and as there’s not interest by the public, there will be no broadcasts.
What I personally didn’t like yesterday: I could barely see anything. Well, Mary had warned me before that the spectators would be standing (nearly) all through the game. But as I can’t stand for much longer than 5 minutes at a time because of my back, I was sitting all the time without anything but a short glimpse of the playing-field once in a while. I couldn’t even see the big screen. It’s a pity, but what the heck. I could, of course, have got up once in a while. But I didn’t really want to as I wasn’t that much interested in the game. But in spite of this: I’m happy I went. The atmosphere with 100,000 spectators and all the bells and whistles was a worthwhile experience and very impressive. To have be there ounce is a must, but it doesn’t really have to be more than just once. So Mary will very likely have to go with friends, if she wants to go again, but very likely not with me. But she bear it.
Having said this, all that remains is “Hook ’em, Horns!”
Um diesen Artikel in deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.
- Wyoming vs. Texas: Final Report Card, Player Grades for the Longhorns (bleacherreport.com)
- Breakfast with Bevo: Texas-Wyoming, History 101 (statesman.com)
- Texas Longhorns Football: What to Watch for in Longhorns’ Season Opener (bleacherreport.com)
- Breakfast with Bevo: Wiki, Wiki, Wyoming (statesman.com)
- Kirk Bohls: Despite big victory, Texas Longhorns have plenty to work on (newsobserver.com)
- Breakfast with Bevo: First impressions (statesman.com)
- Texas’ defense solid after early wake-up call (newsobserver.com)
- San Antonio Scorpions: Addendum (pitstexasexpatsblog.wordpress.com)
- San Antonio Scorpions 4 – Tampa Bay Rowdies 0 (pitstexasexpatsblog.wordpress.com)
- Soccer (pitstexasexpatsblog.wordpress.com)