Packed like sardines, sports fans crowd into arenas to share super-charged experiences — experiences built upon deep-rooted traditions. Some traditions serve to intimidate opposing teams, while others serve to stir feelings of excitement and passion. These 5 sports traditions generate tons of fan engagement:
5. Ralphie’s Run, University of Colorado
Many schools bring their mascots onto the field during games, but there is something particularly intimidating about a live buffalo running around. At CU, Ralphie the Buffalo charges onto the football field before each half of home games. Ralphie follows a horse-shoe shaped course, led by a team of “Ralphie Handlers.”
4. Legend of the Octopus, Detroit Red Wings
This tradition originated in 1952 at the Stanley Cup playoffs when two brothers threw an octopus on the field. Each leg of the octopus symbolized one of the winning games required to make it to the Stanley Cup. Since 1952, fans have developed proper “etiquette” for octopus-flinging, including careful boiling as preparation (raw octopuses just stick to the ice). This tradition is usually reserved for home playoff games, but fans often throw them at other home games, too.
3. Midnight Yell, Texas A&M University
Aggies are so committed to their team, they meet at midnight before home games (and away games) to practice yelling their chants. Before away games against University of Texas, Aggies will meet at the Texas Capitol in Austin to perform their revelrous Midnight Yell.
2. Running Down “The Hill”, Clemson University
At Clemson home games, the Tigers thunder down a long ramp called “The Hill” onto the field. It’s a spectacular grand entrance that rallies Tigers fans to the core and sets the stage for an exciting game.
1. Chief Osceola Planting the Spear, Florida State University
This FSU tradition sets the bar for what all traditions seek to accomplish: it’s simultaneously intimidating and exciting, with a dash of firepower for good measure. Chief Osceola enters the stadium riding his horse, Renegade. Fans cry The War Chant as he gallops around, carrying his flaming spear. All falls silent once he spears the field, signaling the beginning of the game.
The one thing that all of these traditions have in common is how they engage sports fans on an emotional level. Traditions provide opportunities for fans to bond and compete with each other, whether they’re throwing octopi on the ice rink, cheering on their favorite mascot, or chanting at the top of their lungs at midnight.