Four massive venues rest amid a concrete desert just above the Philadelphia Navy yard. These stadiums house four of this city’s best-known sports teams – the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies and 76ers.
These teams are often highlighted on TV, covered in the news pages and discussed in the talk-radio airwaves, just like most professional teams.
But let’s face it. It’s likely you’ve already experienced most, if not all these franchises have to offer (aside from winning a championship).
Plus, many college kids cannot afford the price of admission to an Eagles game. A few too many appearances at Citizen’s Bank Park or the Wachovia Center can quickly burn a hole in one’s pocket as well.
So, welcome to the world of college sports, a haven for cheap, authentic fun. Listed below are eight experiences to do before 2011 rolls along and you’re suddenly turning your tassel. Most can even be enjoyed without having to stray off campus.
Visit the Ambler Sports Complex. Sure, it’s a trek, especially if you don’t have access to a car, but some of Temple’s finest sports facilities reside at the university’s Ambler Campus. The best day to visit comes each April – Cherry & White Day. The festivity, which features home games by the baseball and softball teams, is capped by the football team’s annual scrimmage.
Sit in the Student Section. The loudest and most enthusiastic fans cheer on the men’s and women’s basketball teams from the Liacouras Center’s student section. It’s where all the spirit – the band, cheerleaders, chanting and cursing – occurs. To get in, you’ll need to purchase a Cherry and White pass from the athletic department. It also helps to know the fight song.
Attend a Temple Football Game. If taking in a game at Lincoln Financial Field is the only reason you come, so be it, but there really is nothing like the experience of Temple football. To many upperclassmen, the football team remains a running joke. Al Golden appears to be as good a candidate as any to change this stigma, but that won’t happen until a few W’s appear. Expect a few victories this season, but in all likelihood, this program is still a couple years from flourishing.
Check Out a Women’s Basketball Game. Seriously. Don’t join the Temple fans who whine that they don’t have a legitimate winning team to support. The women’s basketball program has thrived under coach Dawn Staley and it’s disappointing the team draws such a miniscule crowd. Many Temple students skipped out on watching one of the country’s best female basketball players – Candice Dupree, now a two-time All-Star with the Chicago Sky. Don’t miss out on the next jewel Staley uncovers.
Cheer at the Penn Relays. Each April, Penn hosts one of the most historic track and field competitions in the world, the Penn Relays. Hundreds of athletes – high school, college and professional – come from across the country to compete. Every level of competition is thrilling in its own unique way. You might even be lucky enough to watch a record fall. It’s track and field at its finest. Note: Tickets can be a bit pricy for the college budget. Plan accordingly.
Join an Intramural Team. The Temple recreation department offers a wealth of intramural athletics for casual athletes to enjoy. Football, softball and basketball are extremely popular, but don’t be afraid to give soccer, hockey or volleyball a try. Find a sport you like, grab your buddies and form a team. If you’re good enough, your team can represent Temple in the city’s inter-school competition.
Catch a Big 5 Game at the Palestra. The Palestra, located on Penn’s campus, is one of the most historic venues in college basketball. Equally historic is the Big 5 rivalry, an annual competition among five of Philadelphia’s basketball programs – La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova. The banners, sound system, bleachers and cramped quarters present a nostalgic feel.
Experience March Madness. The men’s basketball team is in a bit of a drought. It has been six years since it last appeared in the NCAA Tournament, and many Temple students have unfortunately missed out on this experience. But Coach Fran Dunphy is constructing a team around a few freshmen who have the potential to return Temple to its glory days.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.