September 24, 2008

Counting Down Football's Cathedrals

If you're like us at We Is ND, then college football is in your blood. Saturdays are holy days of obligation, not simply to rejoice or wallow with the outcome of the Irish, but an opportunity to join a greater congregation across the country. The palette of conferences and regions that canvas the U.S. is a dazzling array of tradition and pageantry in the sports landscape. The experiential component at each school makes Saturdays an all-day affair that is much more than just 60 minutes of football between the lines. Gameday atmospheres combine campus pilgrimages, generations-old traditions and cheers, tailgate parties that transcend your typical get-togethers, young and old fans alike basking in the opportunity to celebrate the love affair each shares with the school and team.

If the games are the service that we attend to witness the drama unfold, then the stadiums are the cathedrals, standing monuments that open their doors to the ticketed masses. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and quirks. Some are built with the architectural intention to contain the cacaphony of clapping hands and cheering voices within its structure, giving rise to true home field advantage. There are few greater natural highs than walking through the gates of any stadium, sitting down and basking in the spectacle that surrounds you. The pomp and circumstance of the college game sets it apart from its corporate counterpart, the NFL. Student sections dominate the decibel readings, imploring the rest of the crowd to join them in the art of disrupting the visitors.

Thanks to Notre Dame's independence (which has been questioned on these pages), we have had the opportunity to visit various locales and enjoy other tradition rich schools. I conducted a poll among the We Is posse to compile a ranking of the stadiums we have been a part of. In fairness, only those stadiums at least two of us had been to were used for the ranking. This is an ongoing quest to travel to all parts of the land and join in as many traditions as we can. Just because your favorite stadium wasn't ranked doesn't mean it's not on our list of places to go.

A rundown on how the stadiums were scored. There were 6 categories to score a school, 1 - 10, 10 being the highest. I averaged the score of each category and added up the 6 averages to get an aggregate final score. The six categories:

Campus Vibe - basically a "cool" scale on what it's like to be at a given school - what's to like, or not like, about campus?

Fan Factor - pretty self-explanatory, but how passionate and loud are the fans? Also, are they welcoming or obnoxious to visitors? Educated or ignorant football fans? The people make the place, so how do they stack up?

Tailgate Scene - rising early to join the pre-game festivities and winding down after the game, some fanbases can write the book on tailgating;

Tradition - the goose bump factor: pre-game, during game, post-game; you know when you're a part of something bigger than the game, and it makes a difference;

Surrounding Area - the bar scene and direct area around campus that makes the preceding night and post-game fun to be around...or not around;

Intangibles - what happened on the trip that made it unique; this either makes you rehash the fond stories every time you're together, or you've pushed the awful memories into the farthest recesses of your mind;

Stay tuned for the countdown.........

1 comment:

Doug said...

Looking forward to seeing how these results played out. There are 11 stadiums to be previewed from what I am gathering??