Husker football is hands down one of the greatest experiences of the fall semester. As a member of the Cornhusker Marching Band, I have the privilege of fully indulging in the game day atmosphere in a way others can only dream of. Yet, no matter how much I love being a small droplet in the sea of red, I will always hate the Thanksgiving games.
For the past 32 years, we’ve played the Friday after Thanksgiving with the last 11 games being against Iowa. While I’m all for traditions, I can’t help but despise the sport taking away from my family and food time.
I’ve been spinning on the flagline for three years now, and this Friday will be my second time performing the day after Thanksgiving. As a marching band member, we are required to be at Memorial Stadium five-and-a-half hours prior to kickoff, with practice starting at 7 a.m. Before practice can even begin, however, I’m awake in my apartment just before 6 a.m. packing my bag and getting ready for the game.
I’m not a morning person, to say the least, but I can handle the early morning dreadfulness of every other home football game. The day after Thanksgiving though? I would rather lay in bed from my food coma until three in the afternoon. Perhaps getting up would be a little more enjoyable if we actually had a chance for a bowl game.
Nearly every other game of the semester, we get a full week of practice leading up to the game, with occasional four-day weeks. While this will by far be my favorite performance of the season, we are also missing out on the final two days of practice before showtime. This time away from school is supposed to be relaxing and an opportunity to forget about college responsibilities. Instead, you’ll catch me in the corner running through choreography to make sure it doesn’t slip my mind.
With it being the final game, there’s a lot of expectations to make it our best show yet. There’s quite a bit of pressure when you’re swinging a 6-foot pole in the air in front of 90,000 fans and dozens of cameras projecting you on the big screen. In addition, our final show always features our graduating seniors. Many family members try to attend this game, but with it occurring on a Friday, that’s not always an option.
Growing up, Thanksgiving often took place out of state for us. We usually traveled up north to see my extended family, and once we even vacationed down to Arizona for a wedding. However, with only Wednesday and Thursday off from classes, traveling is no longer a viable option.
Even when my family chose to remain in Nebraska, our Thanksgiving meal was followed by a couple hours of sleep before hitting up the retail stores for Black Friday. I’m always a sucker for great deals and I would much rather shop in person than online, but with football games requiring me to wake up before the sun rises, this is no longer an option either. This Thanksgiving, I’ll have to say goodbye to my family to head back downtown for a good night’s rest before our early morning rehearsal.
I’m lucky enough to have my family in Lincoln, but many band members are from out of state. With only two days off before the game, they don’t have an option to spend the holiday with their family. Those who have to stay on campus also have few options for food with dining halls and Husker Hero’s locations closed Tuesday night through Sunday. The only opportunity for food is at Selleck Dining Hall for a short three-hour lunch period.
I understand that traditions are a huge part of what makes Husker nation the fanbase it is, but this one has to go. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching all your friends and roommates pack up to leave for home knowing that you’ll be stuck alone on campus for the next two days. Even if we postponed the game until Saturday, some more students would have the option to travel home Tuesday after classes and spend quality time with their families until returning to campus Friday night.
Personally, family is one of the most important aspects of Thanksgiving, followed closely by the feast. With commitments to marching band, many students won’t get either one of these this year once again. As much as I love the atmosphere of Memorial Stadium on a gameday, I would much rather spend the time with my family Black Friday shopping and kicking my feet up for a few days before finals.