Pepperdine University has no football, and I attend Pepperdine University. It’s an unfortunately short chain of facts.
Those tailgating Instagram photos that all my USC friends regularly post are like stabs to the gut. And how much press USC and UCLA receive for football alone is killer.
Meanwhile I’m over here, an aspiring sports journalist, in Malibu trying to make do with the smaller market Division I sports. I’m not saying they aren’t great — both men and women’s volleyball teams and our women’s golf team in particular are consistently stellar — I’m just saying that hype-wise our student body usually lacks the school spirit that the larger football schools possess.
But there is a silver lining. I attend Pepperdine University and over 40 percent of the student body are from out-of-state, which means that we have many students who have grown up closely following college football powerhouses — my roommate is one of them.
Almost every single weekend, without fail, she’ll be cheering on the Auburn Tigers from our apartment. According to Google Maps, Auburn, Ala., is 2,138.2 miles away from Los Angeles. Yet come Saturday, my roommate is rooting for the Tigers with more enthusiasm than I’ve ever seen from fans at the Staples Center.
With Auburn 10-1 this season, a sharp season-to-season improvement coinciding with the hiring of their new head coach, it has been fun hearing about the wins. And with her team facing off against rivals Alabama next Saturday, Nov. 30, she’s hyped.
I lend the excitement to the culture of collegiate football — it’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle. I admire it. As a girl born and raised in Southern California, the closest I got to that fandom feeling was when USC had Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. My uncle graduated from USC and my dad dropped out, so I was sort of connected by a very thin thread.
Recently I covered a local high school football game that was the first live football game I had attended in a long while. It was actually the first ever Friday night football game I have ever attended (my high school didn’t have football field lights — I’ve been deprived of the game my whole life, be sad for me). The excitement of the boys running on the field and the parents pacing the bleachers made me fall in love with sports all over again for the hundredth time.
No matter the score or the level, when the people in the stands are passionate and the players on the field are doing their best, there is nothing like it. It’s a beautiful thing.