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A reflection on my first time watching university football

I learned a lot in those four quarters
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The Varsity Blues go up against the Queen’s Gaels. COURTESY OF SEYRAN MAMMODOVV/VARSITY BLUES
The Varsity Blues go up against the Queen’s Gaels. COURTESY OF SEYRAN MAMMODOVV/VARSITY BLUES

I was 20 years old when I went to my first football game.

I had just transferred to the University of Toronto from Laurentian University, where we did not have a team at all. Our homecomings consisted of hockey or basketball games, but we never had any interest in having a football team. Even my high school did not have the proper insurance to cover a bunch of teenage boys tackling each other in the middle of a field. So I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a school football game. 

But over the summer, I met a guy who practiced with the Varsity Blues and I became dead set on attending a football game. So on October 2, I went to watch the Varsity Blues play the Queen’s Golden Gaels. 

The Blues had started off their season strong, with a 11–10 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees, so I was excited to see how good the team actually was — not that I would be a good judge of that. 

Did I Google “football for dummies” before I went to the game? Yes, I did. Despite my previous research, I was still kind of confused when each touchdown was only six points, because I thought they were seven — that is, until the Gaels scored their first touchdown and then got an extra point from a try, which was the seventh point I was thinking about. I was satisfied with the correction to my original knowledge. 

It wasn’t until the end of the first quarter that the Blues scored their first point with 41 seconds left. The score didn’t move any unmotivated fans. Queen’s seemed like the stronger team so far, pressing the offense and doing a good job of keeping the play in our end, which gave us very few opportunities to score. It took until the end of the second quarter for the Blues to score their first touchdown, and they ended the first half at 26–11. 

I secretly hoped that the Blues would make a comeback. How great would it be if I went to my first football game and my college team won? 

Neither team scored in the third quarter. Despite the mascot, cheerleaders, and minigames for fans, no one really had any excitement anymore. So when the fourth quarter came around and we were losing 29–11, people began leaving, assuming that the Blues wouldn’t make a comeback. 

But then, when Queen’s scored their last touchdown to make the score 35–11, it ended in a dogpile. One defensive back for the Blues turned up injured at the bottom of the pile and was not able to get up again with all of the other players. Both teams automatically went back to their respective benches and kneeled in respect while the player recieved medical attention. 

With just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Beth Ali, the executive director of co-curricular athletics and physical activity, decided to call it. I got to talk to her after the game about the incident and she explained her process for handling a situation like this. She had to talk with the coaches from the Queen’s team as well as the officials and get their approval before officially calling the game. 

It just seemed like a better decision for everyone, especially so late in the game. I hope the player is recovering well and that I’ll see him on the field at my next game!

So the Blues lost 35–11, and all the fans were encouraged to leave as quickly and calmly as possible. It’s definitely not how I pictured my first football game ending, especially after how well it started. But despite that, I really enjoyed the experience, and I can finally understand why homecoming games and high-profile competitions like the Panda Game in Ottawa are so loved.