This article is going to hurt a little to write.
Every April, the Penn State football team hosts its annual spring scrimmage at Beaver Stadium. Blue vs. White, starters vs. hopefuls. This tradition, which happens to be this upcoming Saturday, is not unique to just Penn State. Every major college football team puts on a similar scrimmage. Clemson has their Orange & White game, Auburn has their A-Day game, and Pitt has their Blue & Gold game. It’s a chance for the coaches to catch a glimpse of the work ahead for the season, and it’s a chance for the players to either cement or earn a starting job in a game-like atmosphere. These games have even been the deciding factor in quarterback competitions. Spring games are an incredibly important part of college football, despite only being a glorified practice. However, I’m not here to talk about what’s happening in Beaver Stadium this upcoming Saturday. I’m here to talk about what happens outside the stadium.
As a graduating senior, I’m kind of dreading my last Blue-White weekend. It’s one of my last hoorahs before graduating in May. As I’m typing this, I’m getting a little sentimental about it, as much as I hate to admit it. Sure, Blue-White is a great excuse for alumni to come back and enjoy the tailgating scene. And trust me, they come back in droves to relive their heyday. But enjoying tailgates of the college football persuasion as an actual student of the school just has a different feeling to it. And it’s this feeling that I’m going to miss most of all, even when I come to visit as an alumnus.
Let me give you, the audience, a glimpse into what Blue-White weekend is like if you’ve never experienced it.
It’s an April Saturday morning. You wake up to the sound of the alarm you forgot you’d set the night before on the way back from the bars. You notice it’s only 7 A.M. You hit the snooze button before realizing, “Oh yeah. It’s Blue-White Saturday. It’s time to do hoodrat s**t with my friends.”
You shake off the impending hangover by hitting the shower. Once stepping under the water, your mind begins to race with things like, “Where’s my wallet?” and “Wow, that dad last night looked better on the dance floor than I ever have or ever will.” As the shame of the night before begins to set in, you towel off and get dressed.
You pull on your go-to game day jersey. The grass stains never quite came out in the wash, but that’s okay. It’s more like a badge of honor than a stain anyway. You throw on your worst pair of shoes because you know for a fact that new white pair simply won’t survive the day. You also grab a pair of sunglasses since you know that’s the one thing you need to survive a day’s worth of tailgating in the sun. The word “sunscreen” isn’t in your vocabulary yet because it’s only April, right?
You head over to your buddy’s place before making the walk up to the tailgating fields surrounding Beaver Stadium. Your friend is about as sorry a sight as you. You really wanna mock him, but your splitting headache is preventing you from doing so. You wait for him to shower, and once he’s done you start on your trek up.
The walk seems long, but in reality, it could be a lot worse. At least you can actually walk to your team’s stadium within a reasonable amount of time without having to use public transportation (cc: Pitt Football).
You finally arrive at your destination, the tailgate your buddies have set up. They haven’t cracked the first case of s****y beer yet because they were waiting for your. You’re a little touched. The first beers are passed around. You grab your apartment key from your pocket, use it to punch a hole near the base of your can, and wait for the rest of the degenerates to punch their holes as well. “Cheers boys.” It’s 8:30 in the morning, and the first beers have been shotgunned.
You check your phone… it’s 4 p.m. You see the tent that was put up at the start of the tailgate trampled and broken on the ground. You try to remember if there was another helicopter incident this weekend. You’re covered in mud, your vision is blurred, and your face is pinker than a raw filet mignon. You think, “Jesus, why didn’t I put suncreen on today?” while also thinking “You’re fine, that’s a tomorrow problem.” You take a second to reflect on how many times you’ve awkwardly answered the ridiculous question of “You going into the game?” You then finish the flat Natural Light in your hand, say goodbye to your alumni friends who made the trip back to Happy Valley, get your composure, and begin to make the long trek back to your apartment.
Once arriving, you stumble into bed. Before finally passing out, you think to yourself, “I love this school. God bless Penn State football.”
I’m sure this isn’t an experience unique to Penn State students. Spring games, even just tailgating in general, is one thing that is universally loved. It gives you one last taste of college football before the end of the semester, or in my case, the end of your collegiate career. It’s the memories of being idiots with your friends in a giant field that you’ll always remember about being in college, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s to Blue-White Weekend, here’s to college football, and here’s to being a college student. It’s been a ride I’ll never forget.