College sports and school pride in the US

The value of school pride and why I feel so lucky to have experienced US college sports for a year


Coming from England, I had no previous knowledge about the fact that college sports were a huge deal in United States. Had someone suggested watching a University of Edinburgh soccer match on TV, I probably would have laughed. This is not out of spite, or me demeaning the standard of the play, but because it simply doesn’t exist. Equally, the idea of wearing a University of Edinburgh sweatshirt would probably have had me and my friends in fits of giggles. 

Fast forward a few months to Saturday night in Boylan, and I am surrounded by a bar full of people who cannot tear themselves away from the screens — all clad in exclusively blue and orange clothing. In September, this might have fazed me but after months of being indoctrinated with the University spirit, I firmly believe that it is impossible not to get hooked. I found myself watching and reflecting on the value of college sports and the school pride that comes with it.

College sports here has been one of the biggest differences that I have found coming from the U.K. Reflecting on why it is that the same does not exist in the U.K., it is hard to ignore the obvious. 

The sheer size of the U.S. makes this amazing pool of talent possible, whereas in England, it seems to me that if you are going to be a professional soccer player, then that is all you do. You do not go to college and play soccer. You go to a soccer academy when you’re 16 and pursue solely that. This means that at the University of Edinburgh there is a good crop of high-level players, but not of the sort of caliber who will be playing for their country like in the U.S. 

This lack of international-level players in the U.K. makes a huge difference. However, the standard of play is still high and certainly high enough to warrant allegiance and support — yet it still not does exist. Certainly, U.K. university-level matches are not televised on a regular basis, and I am quite sure that they wouldn’t be watched by anyone other than the close friends of the players. This lack of television makes a cult following difficult, and results in diminishing support for the teams.

This absence of college sports-hype meant that I was totally out of my depth and taken aback by the frenzy that surrounds the University’s sports. It has struck me while being here that when I hear the phrase “A Wahoo for life,” this does really resonate truthfully. While I do feel an allegiance to the University of Edinburgh itself, it is the city that I will remember and feel attached to, rather than the university itself. This could not be more different for the University — I hope that a year here has qualified me to always consider myself part of this amazing community.

The power of sports teams to pull together a community is truly incredible. From those who follow every match-day statistic to those who accidentally find themselves in Boylan on game day, everyone is able to join in and there is simply nothing more uniting than a mutual allegiance to a sports team. Whether it is wearing University school colors or attending a sports game every weekend, there is an undeniable connection established by sports played for the University.

As March Madness approaches and the sense of camaraderie is bound to reach fever-pitch levels, I will be leaving the University as an ACC Champion of sorts, I will never forget and will be forever lucky to have experienced the school pride here. 

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