Amanda Blagg

Outside the Tines with Amanda


Enjoying ASU football games with your little Sun Devils may sound stressful but it can also be a lot of fun for the family. Perhaps chaotic fun, but great memory making nonetheless.

Whether you’re looking to watch a game at Sun Devil Stadium, a restaurant or a rival stadium, both you and your little Devils can have an enjoyable time if you keep a few things in mind.

First and foremost, you have to give up on the idea that the experience will be perfect. You will not see every play, you might hear more of your child’s babble than the game; you will make several trips to the restroom and snack counter. While you may not see the game as you’re used to without the kids, sharing the experience with your little Sun Devils is priceless. If your family is like mine, our kids knew the importance of ASU football in their parents’ lives since toddlerhood. So, when you let them share something they know you value so much, it’s exciting for them and even though it may not seem like it during an intense play when they’re talking or when you miss an amazing touchdown catch because you’re in the restroom, we know that their joy is what fulfills our lives.

One option is taking your little Devils to a home game at Sun Devil Stadium. In my experience, this is likely the most exciting for my son, as he knows mom and dad have gone to every home football game together since they met (other than when we’ve lived outside AZ). So, getting to join us at “Sparky’s house” as he called it a few years ago, is super exciting.

My best advice is to begin with a Spring game. I suggest this for a few reasons. It’s free, so if it turns out that you or your kids are not ready for this experience, you can leave early and you’re not out the ticket price. Additionally, there is no assigned seating, so you can move around the stadium as your kids wish. When our daughter was a couple months old, we brought her to the Spring game in a stroller and it was easy and convenient. Other excitement at the Spring games can include tours of the inside of the stadium, where the players eat, workout, etc. This was very exciting for our son when he was younger. And, most exciting, fans are welcomed on the field after the game. Kids flock to the field, getting to meet players, run around, take pictures, etc. The experience is just an easy introduction to ASU football game going to test the waters before you try a game in the fall.

If you’re looking to take the kids to a game this season, there are a few considerations before making the trip to Tempe. First, do you typically tailgate before games? We always tailgate with a group of our Sun Devil Section 40 Family. Typically, kids will love these gatherings. Food, drinks, games and throwing the football are the usual staples and all things kids will be on board to experience. The caution here is the location of the tailgate…is it somewhere the kids are contained or can they run off? Is there vehicle traffic? Is there a restroom nearby? If all things seem safe, then the tailgate with friends in the grass or parking lot might be a great option. If that’s not the right fit for your family, there is always the option of going to a restaurant before the game. We took our son to Rula Bula pre game and he loved it. Patio seating works well with the the little ones. At Rula Bula, the food was kid friendly and the beer list, parent friendly. Many other places on Mill Avenue would also be family friendly for pre game festivities. This brings us to another way to enjoy the game with children: watching it at a restaurant.

When ASU has a big away game, what better way to watch it than with other Sun Devils? Often the Alumni association will put on watching events or suggest places to view the games, but they might not be the most kid friendly venues. The best options with kids will often be the big name restaurant/bars like Buffalo Wild Wings and Zipps. Both are great options with the little ones and for the sports lover. A plethora of tv screens, good selection of beer and a loud atmosphere where people aren’t as bothered by a less than happy child make these perfect places to catch a game with the Little Sun Devils. And, they have plenty of alcohol for the parents of those less than happy children.

Likely the most daunting way to share the ASU football experience with your kids, but also the most memorable, is a road trip to an away game. We have traveled to road games every season without the kids, but last year opted to take the five year old to Utah. We had already done the Notre Dame game in Dallas last season, so we thought a road trip to a close game would be a great way to share Sun Devil football with our son. We made it a long weekend and one of our section 40 Sun Devil family joined us, as well. We are Jeep people, so we packed up the Rubicon and headed out for natural beauty and some Sun Devil football. Like any road trip with little ones, having things to keep them busy in the vehicle is the first key for success. Snacks and screens are what motivate my kids right now and since both are limited at home, the kids get to take advantage of extra screen time and a little more junk food than usual on road trips. Another key for a successful road game trip with the kids is making a mini vacation out of it. Stop places on the way and explore. We chose the Utah game based on driving proximity and also the ability to explore some of the desert beauty in both AZ and Utah on the trip. Our five year old loved hiking through Antelope Canyon on the way to Utah and then Jeeping in Moab at Canyonlands and Arches National Park on the way home. These were just an added bonus to the football game. More adventure, more memory making and more fun for everybody. Think Disneyland tied into a UCLA or USC game for a long weekend vacation.

The game itself could have been at Sun Devil Stadium for all our son cared, but he was happy to watch ASU football; that was all that mattered to him. It’s always fun to be a visiting fan and experience the way other stadiums celebrate football. After the Utah game, we waited for the players to walk to the team bus and our son was super excited to see Coach Graham, even more than any of the players. In typical fashion, Coach Graham was excited and friendly to the ASU families and fans and grateful for the attendance. He happily obliged our son with a photo of him with our family. Our son was grinning from ear to ear after meeting Coach and my husband and I, no less excited than our five year old, immediately tweeted the photo. The memories we made, both ASU football related and just the good old fashioned family road trip experiences, were priceless. So, even though it might be stressful to think about taking on a road trip with Little Sun Devils, I urge you to take on the challenge…and, the sooner, the better. In my opinion, seeing the road trip through my five year old’s eyes was like seeing him at Disneyland. For me, it’s something I’m grateful to have done at a young age. There is just some level of magic watching a younger child experience something that I feel like is lost as they approach those later elementary years. Ask me again when my kids are 10 or 12 and perhaps I’ll have a different view point.

Whether you choose to take on the challenge of a trip for a road game, watching at a local restaurant or experiencing the excitement of Sun Devil Stadium with your little Sun Devils, I assure you that sharing the passion and Sun Devil Pride with your kids will be far more memorable than the actual game. Well, unless there’s a JaelMary type moment.

About Amanda Blagg

Amanda Blagg

Amanda is a 2002 Arizona State graduate. When she began at ASU in 1998, so began her love of Sun Devil football. She and her husband, also an ASU alum, have had football season tickets since then and travel to road games every season. They are currently raising two little Sun Devils. Her eight year old son was born a Devil; he began singing the fight song before bed when he was two. Some of her son's happiest moments have been on the field at the spring games; when Coach Graham tweeted a photo of him and when he got to meet Coach Graham at the Utah game in 2013. The Sun Devil Pride & Passion runs deeply in the Blagg family and Amanda strives to share her passion with you in Outside the Tines.

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