Texas A&M University has played host to multiple new student experiences over the years. People often graduate, learn new subjects, fall in love, and learn how to play music for the first time in this glorious institution. However, when it comes to football, the experience is ingrained in American blood and it is almost never a first for anyone. Yet, for many international students, this amazing sport is a first time experience. I had grown up on cricket, soccer, and tennis but never football. So, you can imagine my excitement when I got my hands on the tickets for the first game of the season. Or can you? Well, fasten your seatbelts, because I will take you on a ride, and you will see game day with my eyes.
Texas A&M was playing UCLA on 3rd
September, 2016. It was an exciting day. I had woken up with exhaustion because I had been screaming my throat out at the Midnight Yell the night before. I had a quick bath, got dressed in my beloved maroons, and rushed over to the tailgate. I was attending the MBA Association Tailgate, more commonly known as The Hitch. As I stepped down from the bus, along with the several other maroon-clad folks, it felt like I was swimming in a sea of people. The school was unrecognizable, with people dressed in just one color, and tailgates, trucks, and RVs all around. Everyone was in a happy mood. It was as if there was electricity in the air. To top it all off, there was the sound of the yell constantly coming from one tailgate to another.
I joined my friends at our tailgate, and ate a breakfast of burgers and beer. Tailgates are an amazing way of socializing and getting to see the funny sides of even the most serious people around. It was an entertaining time and before I could soak it all up, two hours passed and it was time to head out to the game. That proved to be an ordeal in itself, what with the thousands of people in extremely long lines. I kept hearing snippets of conversation from the junior and senior year students, “I saw all the A&M games last year,” and “I never miss A&M games in spite of any work that I have”. Yes, we do bleed maroon in this campus! It was entertaining to observe the people, so much so that even the dry and raw heat of the day did not bother me. Half an hour of waiting proved worthwhile because the moment we entered Kyle Field, it became even more exciting. It was almost as if we had earned our right to be inside the field.
The game was preceded, as usual, by the marching band, the yell leaders, and the several important officials who took to the field. It was beautiful to see Kyle Field filled with people in white and green attire, and then, the field went silent. It was as if everyone was anticipating something big. Then came the players, in maroon and white, like knights coming out to protect the kingdom in battle. The crowd erupted. I could only imagine what the UCLA crowd, in one blue corner, must have been feeling. The yell went on and one, “Fights, Farmers Fight,…” and there was no stopping the crowd. The crescendo continued and we, the 12th
Man, continued to stand. Then, it was time for the actual game.
The game started slow and it was not in our favor. UCLA scored early on and no matter how much we shouted, waved our towels. However, I shall not describe the game in detail, because I know you all are “Red-Ass”-es who attended the game yourselves, and even if you could not, followed it on television. What I shall say, however, is that the 12th
Man is indeed real. We kept on chanting, shouting, singing, and standing until A&M started to score. It had been a slow game but as we neared the end of the first half, it felt as if the game was under our control.
At half time, the band took to the field again. There is a certain beauty in watching marching bands perform. When it comes to our Corps of Cadets, this beauty is magnified multifold. Texas A&M University put on a great show for everyone and we could not wait for the next half to start. And what a half it was. We pummeled UCLA in the third quarter and the crowd went wild. Not a single person kept quiet. I almost felt sorry for the UCLA crowd and the cheerleaders because, surely, they could not have expected such spirits from our supporters. As the third quarter gave way to the fourth, UCLA came back in the game. With severe effort, they were able to tie the scores. The crowd, for the first time, was tense. We continued the yell as we went into extra time. Everyone was tense. The towels kept waving like a million fans. The game started. The Aggies won. As simple as that! Plain as day! Then the crowd erupted. We shouted and screamed. People cried with joy. The maroon passion was evident.
As we left the stadium, we felt everyone’s happiness all around. Men, women and children celebrated, joked, laughed, drank and had fun. I had had the best day ever. As I walked back to the bus, I started thinking. This is what football does to us. We do not care about race, gender, religion, economy and class. What we care about is Texas A&M. We care about our school, our Alma Mater and the maroon and white colors. We are aggies for life. Football unites. Even as we finish school and go out into the world, Aggies keep coming back because of the spirit that we are ingrained with. For there’s a spirit that can ne’er be told!
Arjun Chakrabarti | MBA
is an MBA student with an intense love for music, travel, scuba diving, tattoos and public speaking.