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My 100,000 Closest Friends

We may not be in the same place but we are together.

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It has been hard for some fans to think about sports during the events that have unfolded over the past couple of months. I have not been able to watch past games or think much about the coming season until recently, since there was so much uncertainty in the world in general, not just the world of sports. While there remains a great deal that we do not know about the coming months, it is looking more and more like there will be college sports in the fall.

Anyone reading this is likely a fan of Penn State sports. We enjoy following the programs and players as they compete, oftentimes making us more proud to be connected with them for how they carry themselves off the field and later in life. Some fans have been around long enough to see the children of the players that they grew up watching on the field become players themselves, taking part in a family legacy.

The people in the stands are in many ways a family through their love of sports and the community. It is hard to say when Beaver Stadium will be full to capacity and since no one truly knows at this point, there is no sense in speculating. While we may not be together we are still going through this as one collective unit.

With the countdown to kickoff starting tomorrow I thought you might enjoy watching the countdown to the start of the game against Michigan last season. It was a very important game and the atmosphere was amazing.

If you can spare the time, watch the 5-minute video in its entirety. The payoff at the end is much better that way. You probably won’t need any coffee to pick you up for the rest of the day. It runs through the first kickoff of the game to when the Michigan Wolverines attempt to run their first play.

Watch closely to see which player or group makes the first impact play of the game. Was it a linebacker? The defensive backfield? Maybe it was a great play call by the defensive coach.

Or was it the collective power of 100,000 voices raining down from the stands?

Before the Wolverines snapped the ball for the first time, five yards were already gained by the Penn State fans. The players on the field reacted and the crowd support put a spark in them that helped along the way to the 28-21 win.

You could say that had the game been played in Ann Arbor last year, Michigan may have won, with the advantage that the home field would have given them. While a familiar field is nice, and sleeping in your own bed is better than traveling, that is not what gives the home team the edge.

It is the fans in the seats. If you took the 100,000 fans inside Beaver Stadium this past October to Ann Arbor, while the same two teams played, the advantage would have been on Penn State’s side. With so much focus on home field advantage we sometimes lose sight of why that is. It is not inanimate objects such as the turf or the seats that make it a friendly place to play, it’s the faces in the crowd, the voices encouraging from above.

One day we will again experience the full force of the crowd, all back together inside of Beaver Stadium. Until then, we share the wait together, separated physically but always linked with a common bond that never seems to wear off with time; a love for Penn State sports, the players that compete, and the people that enjoy supporting them.