Devils Den Blog

Blast from the Stands: Don’t Leave Early

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Guest contributor Jenna Brooks shares a bye week special from a student perspective on Sun Devil football.

“Come on, Jenna. There’s no way we’re going to win, and a bunch of us are going to Sierra’s to hang.  It will be more fun.  Let’s go.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard or been texted some version of this at a football game, usually by friends who don’t exactly share my enthusiasm for the game.  Honestly, many times I’ve almost done it too.  In the time I’ve been a student, there have been more games than I would have liked where it even makes sense to leave.  But I learned something even before I came to ASU, something that keeps me on that bleacher every time.

Don’t leave the game early.

Ever.

It was a Thursday night in late October of my freshman year.  My roommate and I had a 9am class the next day, and neither of us had done the reading.  We thought we’d get back to our rooms around 11:30pm and have plenty of time to finish Gulliver’s Travels.  About a half hour before kickoff, it started raining.  Oregon was feeling right at home, but ASU kept fighting.  When we went into the first overtime, we didn’t even talk about leaving.  It was so close, we just had to stay.  Besides, it was Oregon, we hadn’t beat them in 11 years.  When the game went into the second overtime, we started talking.  It was raining again and getting late.  Then we hit the third overtime and just gave up.  Was part of it procrastination?  Probably. But we’d gotten this far, we were going to stick it out.

Photo by Marc Blagg

Photo by Marc Blagg

For those of you that know your ASU football history, ASU lost that game.  It was pretty depressing having to go to class the next day after a loss and not having done our reading.

But Jenna, you say.  I thought you said you learned not to leave a game?  This doesn’t exactly seem like a convincing argument.  It’s not.  Because we have to go further back for that.  For the real reason I decided to stay at that Oregon game.

The Coliseum.

I was still in high school at this point, and honestly couldn’t care less about ASU football.  I usually just watched it on TV when I didn’t have anything better to do.  Mostly because I was, at this point, trying to find somewhere else to go to school.  Even though all my friends were nagging me about going to ASU because my mom did.

Let me be clear.  I don’t hate people.  But I despise USC.  I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand the hate in the Territorial Cup, since I didn’t grow up in the feud.  But I did grow up watching the kids of USC and UCLA grads duke it out in my middle school classes.  I learned to side with the Bruins simply because they were nicer.  My very first experience at the Coliseum was probably the first time I heard cuss words for real, by some intoxicated old men who clearly didn’t have the intellectual capability to get into the school.

So after being forced to park in a sketchy garage that smelled like human excrement.  We trudged our way through the lively crowd up to our nosebleed seats.  You know, that classic USC view that requires a yoga pose with your neck to see the field.  With just a few minutes left to go in the game, and the score at 27-18, we decided to bail out early.   Side by side with the many other ASU fans just to avoid the unnecessary mocking.

By the time we got out of our seats and started walking around the outer edge of the Coliseum, ASU scored.  We debated running back up to our seats, but USC scored before we could decide.  So the score was 34-25 with three minutes to go as we continued our walk out of the Coliseum.  From the time that we left the stadium, to the time we got into our car, the Sun Devils had won the game.  The date?  October 4th, 2014.

Photo by Euno Lee

We missed the Jael Mary.

I was at THAT game.  The away game with, arguably, the most iconic play in the last ten years of ASU football.

And we left early.

Flash forward to today.

After the first couple of games, we knew this season could be rough. So naturally, the solution was to do Camp Fargo, because you have to make it fun somehow.  Especially for a game that you really believe you’re going to lose.

Except that we didn’t.  Because on September 23rd, ASU finally defeated Oregon.  I hadn’t slept in two days or eaten in eight hours.   But I was in the front row of the South Inferno, and it was glorious.  As of the time of writing this article, I have yet to take off my wristband.

Looking back, I had more fun at that triple overtime Oregon loss than I did at the USC Jael Mary win.  Not just because of which stadium we were at, but because we STAYED.  Because I lost my voice screaming when Oregon was on offense, and because my arms hurt from holding up pitchforks when we were.  Because you could tell the team was fighting just that much harder knowing that we believed in them.  We stayed even after the end of the game, high-fiving the players from the top of the old Tillman Tunnel.

My roommate and I often stayed after games to interact with the players as they headed into the locker room (which may or may not have something to do with football crushes on quarterbacks) especially after loss.  There’s one starter who attends my church, and while I don’t know him personally, I do see him around and have interacted with him a few times.  I always cheer extra loud when he makes a big play, and seeing him sitting a few rows behind me really makes me think.  He’s just a kid, like my friends and I.  Just a kid who’s frequently put on TV and analyzed, criticized, and scrutinized.  I couldn’t imagine dancing every week on national television and having my every move watched and recorded by thousands of people.  I put myself in his shoes, and it makes it awfully hard to think about leaving behind my support just because we are losing.  Or, because the game is almost over and I’d rather get back to my apartment a few minutes earlier.  As the season winds down, ask yourself that same question.  Is leaving early really worth it?

Photo by Kevin Camp

Jenna Brooks is a Junior at ASU studying Secondary English Education with a Dance minor.  She is a Barrett Honors student and also a member of the ASU Dancing Devils dance team.

About Kevin Camp

Kevin Camp

Kevin is a '96 Sun Devil grad of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contrary to his last name, Kevin is not one to stay in one place too long. Kevin has called Washington, Arizona, Utah, and again Arizona home since his days at ASU nearly 20 years ago. A passion for photography in his spare time turned to a great opportunity to shoot Sun Devil sporting events. He has photographed Sun Devils football at Camp T, Tempe practices, Utah, and Colorado while shooting some basketball and baseball as the teams visited Utah. Now that Kevin resides in Flagstaff, he is looking forward to reigniting the family tradition of Camp T with his wife and son. Kevin is also the VP of the ASU Alumni Association Flagstaff club.

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