Fans are the most important players off the field
Sports fanatics, or fans for short, come in all shapes and sizes. Some appear as grizzled veterans, having been there for their squad at its best and its worst, ready to represent and defend their team, city or school against anyone. Others come across as innocent, blissfully unaware of the mountainous highs and the frustrating lows of being a sports fan.
Fans and athletes share a unique relationship. When athletes are in the zone and performing their best, the fans are there, ready to erupt in the stands for the next beautiful display of skill or athleticism.
Likewise, when the going gets tough, true fans are still there. Down one bucket, one run, one goal, one touchdown or trailing by a fraction of a second, the fans are there to help. They will aid their team and its players to victory by cheering, screaming, shouting, cursing, praying and sometimes even dancing.
Fans bring an infectious energy with them that can sometimes turn the tides in favor of the hosting team during a losing situation, a reason home-court advantage is often sought after.
Whether they are current students or alumni, people come out in droves to support the University of Houston.
“I find the football games a lot of fun because it’s a lot of school spirit and energy,” said chemical engineering freshman Nikki Hammond. “I’m not usually a very spirited person, so coming out and being able to scream and shout and get all that energy out around other fans is great.”
Hammond is a member of the Bleacher Creatures, the official spirit group of the Honors College, which offers students the opportunity to “paint themselves up and get rowdy” at Cougar home games.
While not a member of the Bleacher Creatures, history junior Patrick Garza still took it upon himself to wear face paint, a red onesie and a Texas flag as a cape in support of the Cougars on game day.
“I like getting crazy with all the other fans around me. I love embracing the school spirit and getting everyone else around me to do the same,” Garza said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get others involved, but I always try and invite a bunch of people to come with me to the home games.”
There are often specific memories that stand out to fans, moments that can range from a thrilling buzzer beater to the satisfaction of your team finally reaching the promised land. Cougar alum Andrew Monzon, a fan since the early 1980s, has enjoyed many of these experiences throughout the years.
“My favorite thing is being there for victories and sharing that with other fans. The Peach Bowl and defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in 2016 were great moments I am glad I got to see in person,” Monzon said.
Having graduated from the University in 1993 with a degree in history, Monzon has been a football season ticket holder since 1995.
Houston is a city rich with sports history, and there are countless moments fans and athletes have shared with each other over the years.
Witnessing Phi Slama Jama here at the University of Houston, which featured future NBA Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. Believing in the Rockets as they went from Choke City to Clutch City.
Celebrating Cougar alumni like decorated Olympians Carl Lewis and Shannon Miller.
Cheering for the “Killer B’s” from inside the Astrodome to Minute Maid Park, and watching the Astros’ first World Series victory just a year ago.
While not every game is a win and not every season ends with a title, for a sports fan, it is not about the destination. It’s about the journey.