Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you know college football is back in full swing. For Iowa students, that means tailgating in people’s front yards, tiger-hawk stickers on your cheek, screaming Mr.Brightside in the student section, Panchero’s burrito lifts, and of course, the Wave. (Can I get a g’awks??)
The 2019 season is off to a crazy start: two home games followed by (arguably) the biggest game of them all: the Iowa vs. Iowa State game. *Insert dramatic music here* The game is away this year, but still – the excitement is intense.
I have a confession to make: I was raised as an Iowa State fan. Gasp, I know. I’m from a small town in western Iowa, only an hour from Ames, so clearly everyone back home cheers for the Cyclones. My dad is an Iowa State alum, so please don’t come for me. Here’s one of the few remaining relics of my years as a Cyclone fan:
Obviously, I’ve converted into a Hawkeye fan. I love the University of Iowa and I don’t want to be that person who doesn’t root for the school they go to, but I do have a history attending Iowa State sporting events. Although we weren’t die-hard fans by any means, I still went to my fair share of basketball games, gymnastic meets, and of course, football games. I’ve been in Jack Trice Stadium almost as many times as I’ve been in Kinnick Stadium. Based on my experience there’s just no way around it: Kinnick is better. Without further ado, here’s a few reasons why:
1. Tailgating. This one is hard to compare because they’re basically two completely different types of tailgating. At Iowa State, there’s acres and acres around the stadium for people to set up camp, with parking lots full of RVs and game-day buses. Since Kinnick is nestled so close to downtown Iowa City and campus, there’s not as much room. Tailgating happens wherever it can – side streets, parking lots, and even people’s front lawns. And I love it. So many Iowa State fans hate on how there’s nowhere to tailgate in Kinnick, but that close-knit, squeeze-in-wherever-you-can kind of tailgating makes it feel more like a community rather than individual parties. Don’t even get me started on Melrose on game day. It is a must to see whether you are a visiting team or a Hawkeye fan through and through.
2. Our student section is rowdy (in a good way). Our school pride is through the roof. The second Hawkeye Athletics sends out the email saying the student season tickets are available, you buy them, because you know they’re going to sell out every year. You’re closer to the field in Kinnick than you are in Jack Trice and other stadiums. Visiting teams have said it’s hard to play at Kinnick because fans are so close the field. The volume can become overwhelming. And if you’re in the student section behind the end zone, you get to be under that massive tiger-hawk flag when we score. It’s definitely worth getting to the game over an hour early. You might even get your spotlight moment on TV!
3. The Swarm. Nothing gets me hyped like the opening chords of “Back in Black.” Iowa State may have “Sweet Caroline,” but being in the first few rows of the student section and watching the football team walk out of the tunnel to the tune of AC/DC can’t be beat.
Speaking of songs, our fight song is also far superior. If you’ve never listened to Iowa State’s fight song (called “ISU Fights”), go look it up on YouTube. In terms of excitement and hype, it pales in comparison to the staccato, energetic rhythm of “We’re going to FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT for Iowa.”
4. The Wave. This is a no-brainer. Does Iowa State have the “best tradition in college football”? Didn’t think so.
For those of you who don’t know, “The Wave” was started once the Stead Family Children’s Hospital was built. The hospital overlooks the stadium, so the kiddos can go to the top floor and watch the game without ever having to leave the hospital. At the end of the first quarter, everyone in the stadium turns and waves to them while the song “Wave on Wave” by Pat Green plays. The tradition went viral soon after it started, and now other schools “wave” from their states before games, too. It’s enough to bring a lot of people in the stadium to tears, even if they’ve done it several times before (and by people, I mean me!).
Even though none of these reasons have anything to do with the athleticism and the skill of the players themselves, when it comes down to atmosphere, school pride, and tradition, Iowa wins every time.