I thought that I would include this in my previous blog however I think it’s best it has its own separate section.
So yeah, sports in college are a big deal. And sports at UNC are an even bigger deal. Known as the Tar Heels, UNC is one of the top Universities in America when it comes to varsity sports. Our Basketball program is incredibly successful, winning the NCAA national championship 6 times and producing the great Michael Jordan. Our Football team is also decent however we did have an off year when I was at UNC. The baseball team made it to the final four and produces many MLB stars. The most successful team is the women’s soccer team. They have won 22 out of 36 championships and produced stars such as Mia Hamm. So yeah, you can say that the Tar Heels aren’t too bad.
If you go during the fall semester, you will be experiencing the Football season. While UNC isn’t known to be a Football school, it still plays at a very high level. Home games are played at Kenan Stadium with a capacity of 60,000 people.
Gameday is a big affair. Tailgates are set up all over campus, with BBQs, drinking and games. Alumni meet up with old friends, and the marching band parades around campus. Frats normally host day parties (Darties) and many students like to cake themselves in Carolina blue. The game itself is a great experience. There is lots of noise, especially in the student section, and lots of colour. At the end, the crowd links arms and everyone sings the alma meter “Hark the Sound”, it truly is a special moment. Even if you dislike American football, it is a great idea to at least stay for one quarter as it is a great way to immerse yourself into the school spirit.
But whilst Football seems like a big deal, it does not come close to Basketball. The season is longer, and games are more frequent, yet the interest and support never dwindles. Games are played at the 21,000 capacity Dean Smith Centre and can be a bit of a trek since it is located on south campus. Most games are open general admission for students if you have your one card, however for the more important games, there is a lottery system. Basically, you apply and hope that your name gets selected for a ticket. I personally think it is rigged since I went 0-12 in the lottery. That did not stop me from finding tickets however and more importantly, I was able to watch the Duke game.
On the topic of basketball, we have this huge rivalry with another successful Basketball School called Duke (better known as Dook) who happen to be 9 miles down the road from us. Every year, we play them twice, home and away. Before coming to UNC, I had already heard of this rivalry and I was so excited to experience it. It began with lining up with other students for two hours to get into the stadium, such was the occasion. The noise inside the stadium was unlike anything I had experienced. It was constantly loud. When Theo Pinson dunked to seal the win, the place erupted. Next, we pushed our way out of the stadium and with thousands of other students, sprinted through campus towards Franklin Street. Within minutes, Franklin Street was packed with students celebrating the win. There was chanting, dancing, couch burning and fire-jumping, it was nuts! Beating Duke and rushing Franklin was probably the highlight of my time at UNC and must be experienced if you are there in the spring semester.
Franklin Street kicking off! Rushing Franklin is never complete without a jump over the fire. (Not responsible for any injury that may occur)
I hope you enjoyed this introduction on UNC sports and my experience in rushing Franklin. Funnily enough, you can probably catch UNC games on the telly if it is shown by ESPN. And also, go Heels!