Why collegiate sports are such a big deal in the United States


IU men's basketball plays the Iowa Hawkeyes in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Dec. 4, 2017. Evan De Stefano

To many outsiders, it may seem like a cult.

On game days, fans dressed head-to-toe in cream and crimson attire go to whatever stadium around campus is having a game that night, sometimes lining up outside for hours before game time. They pack in to the stands, scream at referees, chant along with cheerleaders and sing along to the IU fight song with thousands of other people. 

They're surrounded by strangers with one common interest — they're all fans of the same team.

This is a common scene on college campuses all over the United States, and IU is no different. Collegiate sports have been a big deal in Bloomington for decades, especially major sports such as basketball and football.

Even though the state of Indiana is widely known for its love of the game of basketball, that's not the only reason thousands of people come out in droves to cheer on the Hoosiers.

Hoosier fans sing the IU Fight Song at Memorial Stadium. The 2018 IU football season kicks off on Saturday at Florida International University.  IDS file photo

Plenty of fans attend athletic events simply for their love of the respective sports, but just as many people in attendance aren't fans at all and only go to the games when they're with friends at school.

Going to games gives students an opportunity to not only spend time with friends on the weekend or a free night during the week, but it also gives people from all backgrounds and walks of life a reason to come together and cheer on their school as one collective group.

Camaraderie is key when singing the IU fight song or clapping along to the men’s basketball team’s tradition of playing the "Martha the Mop Lady" video on the big screen before home games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

The festivities of game days can also give students a chance to simply unwind and take time away from school for at least a few hours. Many people see it as a chance to de-stress and take a break from homework by socializing and having fun.

All sporting events at IU, other than football and men’s basketball, are free to any student with a valid student ID, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about sports such as volleyball, baseball and more.

No matter how big of a sports fan you are, games at IU give new students a chance to learn some traditions of their school, have some fun and maybe even make a few new friends.

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