Illini faithful lack creative flair

Illini faithful lack creative flair

first_imgThere’s just something special about going home: seeing the family, going grocery shopping, doing laundry, sleeping in your own room.But there’s a different home Badger fans are looking forward to returning to next weekend: sections J through P. After a pretty shaky effort last week in Champaign against the Illinois “I-L-L-I-N-I!” coming back to Camp Randall Stadium can’t come soon enough for the one-time fifth-best team in the nation. And while members of Bret Bielema’s squad surely need to come back to their sea of red, it’s those of us who went to watch them play the Illini who can’t wait to jump around once again. Seven friends and I were among the delegation of Badger faithful to drive the most boring stretch of highway down Interstate 39 through the Land of Lincoln consisting of fields of nothing. We blasted “On Wisconsin” upon entering Champaign in hopes of intimidating the enemies as much as possible.The next morning, we got up and made our way to a Memorial Stadium under renovation. With sleepy, quiet Illinois fans surrounding us, we naturally high-fived every Badger fan we saw, sharing pride in our team.But there was just something about these Illini fans that was a real downer. With high expectations over the rowdiness of Camp Randall, I expected to hear some of the best Illinois had to offer.And it wasn’t much. The big sea of bright orange started off on Wisconsin’s first third down of the game by clapping in syncopation with their hands over their heads. This continued on every Badger third down of the game.Mildly amusing.Then, during the 4th quarter, the student section jumped to the left and right — not around — to the tune of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Dudley Do-Right. They might have done it a second time, but I was too busy watching Tyler Donovan throw his second interception that I wasn’t paying attention.Finally, throughout the game, the student section would yell “I-L-L” and the rest of the crowd would respond “I-N-I.”“Hey, you can spell!” my friends and I yelled.And that was it. Unless I missed something — which is entirely possible — there were three cheers the entire game. Thank God I go to Wisconsin. The trip to Illinois made me and my friends appreciate what being a Wisconsin Badger is all about. I know this might warrant a big Full House “awww” after saying it, but it’s the truth. While profanity has caused UW a bit of trouble in the past and some unruly fans can be an embarrassment, the passion of Wisconsin’s student section is something to be proud of. Between jumping around, singing “Build Me Up Buttercup,” rowing, doing the wave and counting Bucky’s push-ups for every point we score, the Badger enthusiasm is clear.“Hey, you can count!” an I-L-L-I-N-I fan yelled after we finished counting in Champaign. “Between our reading and your counting, we’ve got everything covered.”And that was as much wit as Champaign had to offer. The joy of being in Wisconsin’s student section is enough proof of Wisconsin’s pride, but Badger fans have also historically traveled with their team in the masses. Between dedicated students and passionate alumni, thousands of people traveled to Pasadena for the Rose Bowls in 1994, 1999 and 2000, to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl the past two years and even this year, to Las Vegas for the UNLV game. And with today’s generation, the sea of red always means a full sea of red. The attendance at last Saturday’s game at Illinois was about 58,000, which was the “second sellout in a row,” the announcer proclaimed. I can’t remember the last time Camp Randall wasn’t sold out for a football game. The passion for Badger athletics isn’t limited to football, either. The Athletic Department announced that Wisconsin’s hockey attendance last year was the most in the NCAA and even beat out several NHL teams. At the end of the day, fans of Wisconsin athletics have been, are and always will be passionate about their teams.So next Saturday, I’ll throw on my Bucky T-shirt, go into the stadium, listen to Gary Cannalte’s game day forecast, watch “Ask the Badgers” and witness the Badgers get another win on the season.The best part, though: Next week I get to walk down Regent Street to get to the game instead of driving through fields of nothing.Tom is a junior majoring in journalism. If you would like to complain to him about the Illini, he can be reached at tschalmo@badgerherald.comlast_img

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