So you’re coming to Iowa City for a football game. Welcome! Enjoy your stay. Would you care for a beverage?
Great, now that you’re comfortable, let’s have a talk about what, or rather who, to expect as you make your way from wherever you’re staying to the college football Mecca known as Kinnick Stadium.
Though it holds under 70,000 fans now, the cities of Iowa City, University Heights, Coralville, etc. take on well over 100,000 visitors on gameday weekends. With that many people, you see Hawkeye fans of all shapes, sizes and types. I mean ALL.
But it’s Friday afternoon and you don’t have all weekend for me to run through them. You have only a few agonizing hours between you and Hawkeye football. So instead of all that, here are the seven Iowa fans you’ll see on your trek to Kinnick Stadium.
We’re going to start you off gently here. This one is far and away the most innocent of the fan types and the one we should all strive to be. This is the literal child. Maybe they’re walking with that pep in their step on the way over or maybe they’re throwing the football with a friend or family member at a wholesome tailgate. Whatever they’re doing, they’re excited about it. They can’t wait for Hawkeye football. Nothing is ruining this day.
We should all aspire to be this fan. But alas, we are no longer kids and we won’t.
The next best thing for those of us who are no longer kids is the parent. No, not any parent. We’ll get to some not so great ones in a bit, but this particular fan type is one I aspire to be - some day.
The parent is usually accompanying the kid (but not always) and shares some of that youthful enthusiasm. They may be throwing a ball with the kid, or manning the barbecue. They may even be partaking in a beverage or two. But they aren’t overdoing it and they aren’t really bothering anyone.
Sure, the parent is going to ask you five times if you’re sure you don’t want a brat and they’re going to talk your ear off about how great it was when they watched Rob Houghton kick the game winner against Michigan as a freshman back in ‘85, but they’re generally having a good time and someone you want to be around.
You can spot them by the tucked in shirts, crew socks with sneakers and dad bods.
This next one is bordering on someone you don’t want to be around. They share some of the characteristics of the parent, but they take them a bit further. Mr./Mrs. Over-prepared isn’t asking you four times if you’d like a brat, they’re insisting you have one since they made too many. You also have to have a burger. And some coffee. And Gatorade. Oh, and some of that taco dip they made. Oh, oh, and don’t forget to grab a water, it’s going to be a hot one you know!
If you get them to stop shoving food and drink down your throat, they’re sure to tell you all about how that bag you have won’t make it into the stadium. Here, take their extra clear bag that is the perfect size! Also, they noticed you’ve already had two adult beverages, are you sure you want another one? Why don’t you have one of their waters? You should probably take one with you too. You can take them into the game, you know?
Spot them on the street with their perfectly sized clear bag shoved full of unopened water bottles and snacks. Consider walking on the other side of the street.
This is where we start to cross the line from helpful, if overbearing, to annoying.
We all know this person. Maybe they were the star quarterback in high school. They’ve told you all about it. Maybe they were in the band. They’ve told you all about it. Maybe they weren’t in anything, but they used to tailgate with the best of them. Boy have they told you all about it.
The problem with Glory Days is that they haven’t just told you all about it, they’re still trying to re-enact it. They’re rocking their jersey, slinging the pigskin around. No, they aren’t just playing a friendly game of catch, they’re sending the 6 year old and the 8 year old on rub routes and screaming at them when they drop the easy touchdown.
They’re playing their old instrument (encouraged) and harping on those around him for being out of step, or out of tune, or for not seeming to care anymore (not encouraged).
They’re playing flip cup with the 20-somethings and can barely stand, but damnit they still got it and you can’t tell them otherwise.
Don’t be Glory Days.
Ok, this one may be confusing. Overzealous guy could be masquerading around as someone else. I mean really, he probably looks a lot like Glory Days. Overzealous Guy is very into everything (s)he’s doing. Playing catch? Better warm up the arm first, they’re putting everything they have into this. Grabbing beer and ice at the gas station? It better be the exact beer every person at the tailgate is going to want and I swear to all that is holy if you don’t get that ice spread evenly...
Want to just hang out and chat about the game? THIS IS GOING TO BE THE MOST EPIC WEEK ONE MATCHUP OF ALL TIME!! Seriously, between Stanley and Fant and all the offensive weapons this team is going to be so great! Don’t agree? YOU’RE AN IDIOT! How could you not agree? I mean sure, Sutton Smith is a stud and yeah we are missing both offensive tackles in this one, but we have our best running back... OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO LOSE TO NORTHERN ILLINOIS!! Do you have any idea what this means for the rest of the season?!? WHY DID I EVEN COME???
Overzealous Guy is unbearable. Everything has to be perfect because everything IS perfect. Until it isn’t.
This is where the corner really gets turned from annoying to dangerous. Sloppy Joe isn’t just out here making a little mess, they’re out here making a mess out of themselves, the tailgate area, everything.
Sloppy Joe remembers their college days. Maybe they were glorious and like Glory Days, they’d like to re-live them. One game of flip cup turns into three. Did you say you have a Hawkeye beer bong? Sure, why not?!? Wait, did someone say Fireball?? All of a sudden that 6am start time seems like it was forever ago and it’s only 9.
Worse yet, maybe Sloppy Joe isn’t looking to remember anything at all. This isn’t an accidental stooper, it’s an attempt to forget the last week. Or month. Or year. Beer Pong? Why don’t I just chug the beer instead? You’re shotgunning beers? Amateur.
Whatever the reason, Sloppy Joe isn’t just having a good time, they’re having a good time for everyone. And all of a sudden it isn’t a good time for anyone. Steer clear of Sloppy Joe.
The Freshman should look familiar. Why? We’ve all been there. Also, they look a lot like Sloppy Joe, just younger. Much younger.
The Freshman will be most prevalent for week one, when several thousand young guns get their first true taste of freedom. Mom and dad are often hundreds or thousands of miles away and peer pressure is a b*tch.
You can spot the Freshman by their disheveled look as they walk away from the stadium anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours before kickoff, often assisted by some good Samaritan.
“Iowa F*ckin City” Guy - You know, the guy selling the shirts on every f*ckin corner of Iowa f*ckin city. Oh, you’re wearing one already? Right on bro! Your friends needs one too. Oh, you aren’t buying one? F*ck you!
I Need Tickets Guy - First, he doesn’t actually need tickets. Sure, he may be willing to take your tickets, but he’s paying you $10 for your 50 yard line seats because it’s Northern Illinois and it’s only 3 hours until kickoff. But he’s really there to sell you tickets. Lost your student ticket/ He’s got one for $60. What do you mean that’s way more than you paid for it the first time? It’s 3 hours until game time and you don’t have a ticket! F*ck this guy.
Game day is nearly here! Enjoy yourselves responsibly, have fun and don’t be that guy/gal!