Pregame rituals prepare BYU fans for gameday

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Jacob Cook
BYU fans paint their faces and wear coordinated white shirts to get ready for games. Some fans even camp out for days to get good seats on gameday. (Jacob Cook)

How to prepare for a BYU football game:

  • Check team statistics and updates.
  • Coordinate outfits and face-paint with the crew.
  • Don’t eat beforehand.
  • Hope and pray for a win.

There aren’t too many sponsored pre-game activities for fans, aside from handing out free T-shirts on campus before a game, so some fans have invented their own traditions and rituals.

The ritual of camping out days before a game started at basketball games, and has carried over to football games.

Taylor Sumsion, a self-proclaimed diehard BYU fan, frequently checks statistics and lineups before games. He had a popular Twitter account before his mission dedicated solely to talking about BYU sports stats and matchups.

“I think I had 760 followers before I left on my mission, and I only had the account for a year,” Sumsion said. He gathered statistics and player information from places like ESPN, byucougars.com and a few Facebook pages dedicated to BYU fandom.

Sumsion grew up in Provo, but moved to Idaho Falls when he was nine. When he was little, he and his father would try to wear matching shirts to the games.

“He’d wear the adult size and I’d wear the kid size of the same shirt,” Sumsion said. “So it’s something I’ve tried to keep going.”

Now Sumsion carries on the tradition by coordinating gameday apparel with a group friends before the games.

“If we don’t have something all in common, we all go to Wal-Mart and get shirts because we have to match. It’s a necessity,” Sumsion said.

He also heads to the west parking lot of the stadium two hours early to stock up on free BYU memorabilia, and even gets custom-designed face paint to wear with his friends.

BYU junior Riley Bray’s pregame ritual includes drinking a “Randal,” a secret diet soda concoction that includes half a lime. She also wears a hair tie on her left wrist and avoids saying negative things about the team.

“During the game, I’m really superstitious,” Bray said. “If BYU makes a good play, I have to make sure I’m standing in the exact same spot and doing the exact same thing for the next one.”

(Kyle Adams)
BYU students camp out before a football game. Many students have pre- and post-game rituals to celebrate Cougar sports. (Kyle Adams)

Sumsion admits that he loses his voice by the end of the first quarter.

“I used to come to the games with one earphone in and one out so I could listen to the radio broadcast and watch the game at the same time,” Sumsion said. “Greg Wrubell is one of the greatest announcers of all time.”

While Wrubell speaks to thousands, two BYU students speak on the ground level to student sports fanatics.

BYU alumnus Sam Hiatt and current student Derek Jacobs are friends that have teamed up to create podcasts about a topic they are both passionate about: BYU athletics. They met their freshman year in Helaman Halls and bonded over their mutual love of sports.

They call themselves the “Y’s Guys” and have been recording and posting podcasts weekly since July 2015. Hiatt and Jacobs keep their content under 30 minutes, and their target audience is BYU fans.

Jacobs said producing podcasts is his and Hiatt’s pre-game ritual now.

“With social media, it’s easier to know more about the other team well before the kick-off,” Hiatt said, “Whereas in the past, you wouldn’t know star players until the pre-game show right before the game. Now pre-game is a whole week. So one of the traditions is just being fully immersed in content.”

Greg Wrubell and post-game stats on the radio played for three hours straight when Sumsion and his father drove home to Idaho after games. But when BYU loses, the car ride is long and silent.

Yevi Perelman
Fans got their happy ending on Sept. 12 when BYU beat Boise State. A Cougar victory makes students’ post-game rituals more energetic and exciting. (Dani Wyson)

“After a Utah loss, I give everyone the silent treatment for a few days,” Sumsion said.  “I’m in my own zone. I have music I go to. It’s like I’m ‘hangry,’ but I’m not hungry. I lose my appetite and I can’t eat. I lose my focus in school. I’m a total disaster after.”

Pleasant Grove native Tyler Callaway, who is studying chemical engineering, also considers himself a diehard BYU football fan. His pre-game ritual consists of watching college football right after waking up. The buildup to the Cougars’ kickoff is a day-long waiting game for Callaway.

“I’m just so nervous (that) I can’t eat anything all day before the game,” Callaway said. Gameday anticipation has also affected Callaway’s sleep. If BYU loses, Callaway says he can’t eat and stays up all night. If BYU wins, he eats everything in the house and goes to bed at midnight.

Callaway prepares for a BYU football game the same way he would for one of his basketball games.

“I’ll listen to the same kind of music,” Callaway said. “I’ll get pumped in the same kind of way like I’m going to go out on the field and play.”

Callaway joins his father and uncle in analyzing the game by reading fan’s comments on cougarboard. They also meet before games to talk about suspensions, injuries and predictions.

The Y’s Guys podcast covers predictions as well. “As a podcast, we always give predictions,” Jacobs said. “We like to break down the game. What are the things you should look for during the game? Who has the better quarterback and who has the better defense?”

When the Cougars win, Callaway and his father end the night at Burger Supreme, the same place where Callaway’s father ate when he was a BYU student.

“I have a frequent diner number there that goes back 20 years, and I still use it,” the younger Callaway said. “I’m still carrying on the rewards that my dad started 20 years ago.”

The Callaways leave home if they have to watch an away game. On one occasion, they checked three different sports bars before finding one that was showing the game because it was on such an obscure channel.

The Y’s Guys offer a different kind of channel through their podcast to those who want game recaps and commentary.

“My first impression of Sam was the BYU–Oklahoma game,” Jacobs said. “After we won, he got up on the table and started dancing around, and I thought, ‘wow, this kid is cool.'”

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