The Coolest Traditions in Sports
There are many “hallowed” traditions in the world of sports.
And sure, they’re all respectable traditions, but honestly—get that weak stuff out of our face, man.
The best sports traditions are ones that really pull on us, and strike that rare and powerful “I must do this, I must be there” chord deep down in our hearts.
The events and customs in the following list are those kind of traditions—the special ones that make us stop and recognize how cool it is to be a sports fan.
20. The Milwaukee Brewers’ Famous Racing Sausages
I like to imagine Bud Selig walking into the outfield and issuing that challenge to the crowd at Miller Stadium right before unleashing the first “Running of the Sausages.”
The less whimsical truth, however, is that the Milwaukee Brewers’ “Famous Racing Sausages” tradition began in 1991 as a promotion for Klement’s Sausage company, whose dogs and brats are sold during games.
It’s not one of the most intimidating or meaningful traditions in sports, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ Famous Racing Sausages is as spellbinding and entertaining a custom as any pep rally or halftime show out there.
19. The University of Tennessee Vol Navy
Where most alumni tailgaters set up a tent in the parking lot, crack a beer and call it a day, the Vol Navy says “(Bleep) your little tent, we have a regatta.”
Complete with hot tubs and team-color Bimini tops, the Vol Navy is literally a mobile tailgating flotilla of yachts whose sole mission for every Volunteer home game is to cruise to the Knoxville boardwalk and revel in booze and gridiron glory.
At the end of the day, the Vol Navy tradition is less of a tailgate party, and a lot more like the F-ing Catalina Wine Mixer.
18. Oregon Football's Uniforms
Oregon football doesn’t always wear cool uniforms, but when they do, they’re pretty damn great.
Style differences aside, the revolving door of uniforms the Ducks don every week in the fall is one of the newest and most unique norms in the world of sports.
It’s a non-traditional “tradition,” but it’s working for the football team in Eugene.
17. The Haka
“Prepare yourself... this is the hairy man... I die, I die, I live, I live.”
The “haka” is a traditional Maori war dance that the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team has been performing prior to matches since 1905. The team’s particular version of the haka is called “ka mate,” and features light-hearted Maori lyrics such as the one you read above.
They’re no Globo Gym Purple Cobras, but the All Blacks New Zealand national rugby team’s pre-game “haka” psych-up will make you deeply question the wisdom of tangling with these men.
16. The Steelers' Terrible Towels
It’s simple, iconic and makes for a helluva camera shot during home games at Heinz Field.
You may hate the Steelers, but you have to admit—if your team had a tradition like Pittsburgh’s Terrible Towels, you would be out there every game sauced up and hellbent on getting tennis elbow from waving that rag so hard.
15. The Cadets Presentation at the Army-Navy Football Game
“But mommm, it’s just guys standing around and walking in straight linessss!! So boorrriing! I want froyooo!!”
I hear you, dissenters. And I understand why the cadets marching in and out of the annual Army-Navy football game might seem a little solemn for your taste.
But you’re wrong.
The Army-Navy game is an iconic moment in sports, and unless Tom Clancy is elected to Secretary of Defense, it’s basically the closest we’ll ever be to seeing full-on combat between different branches of our military.
14. Taylor University's “Silent Night” Basketball Game
No one claps. No one cheers.
Nope, no one participating in Taylor University’s “Silent Night” tradition makes so much as a peep until their team scores its 10th point.
Then it’s all lung-popping screams, Gangnam Style and viral video gold. Talk about a good way to blow off steam during finals.
13. Liverpool’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” Song
12. Colorado’s Running of the Buffalo
We have a rule here in America—the bigger and the more dangerous the animal mascot, the more it needs to be released onto the field.
That’s where Ralphie the Buffalo comes into play.
The mascot for the University of Colorado weighs 500 lbs, runs a sub-4.0 second 40-yard dash and her trip around Folsom Field takes only 40 seconds all in all.
But what a 40 seconds it is.
11. Wisconsin Likes to Jump Around
It’s just what it sounds like, and it’s completely out of control.
The Wisconsin Marching Band’s “Fifth Quarter” performance may be fun, but it’s nothing compared to watching Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin turn into a jumping House of Pain during football games.
10. Indiana University's Little 500 Bike Race
Every spring a fever begins building in Bloomington, Ind.—Little 5 fever.
And the only prescription is more bicycle.
Known as the “Greatest Weekend in College,” the Little 500 bike race at Indiana University began as an excuse to raise money for school scholarships, but has evolved into a nationally televised event attended by 30,000 or more every year.
Put it this way—a movie has been based on the Little 500. Not bad for an intramural sporting event.
9. The Lambeau Leap
Refs respect it. Other teams imitate it.
Its been mocked and stolen by franchises all across the National Football League, but the traditional celebration that is the Lambeau Leap can never be duplicated or done righteously by any outside a Packers uniform.
8. Detroit Fans Throwing Octopi on the Ice
Or at least that’s the metaphor Red Wings fans Pete and Jerry Cusimano were trying to express when they tossed the first octopus on the ice at Joe Louis Arena in 1952.
The Red Wings needed eight playoff wins to take home the Stanley Cup and the two brothers—who owned a fish market—decided to mix work with pleasure and begin side-arming the eight-limbed cephalopods into the rink.
And it stuck.
The team went onto to clean-sweep their way to a Stanley Cup victory in eight games, and Detroit Red Wing fans have been slinging playoff ‘pus on the ice ever since.
7. Ohio State Marching Band's "Script Ohio" Routine
“Don’t run into each other, don’t run into each other...”
I don’t want to think about how many hours it took them to get this down, but I will say that the Ohio State Marching Band is probably “The Best Damn Band in the Land,” and the “Script Ohio” halftime routine is one of the more jaw-dropping traditions in all of sports.
I don’t know how I’m going to make it happen, but I do know that one day I will “dot the i” in Ohio Stadium. And I will be looking “suspenders-cane-monocle-top-hat” fancy. Until I get tackled.
6. Slapping Notre Dame’s “Play Like a Champion” Sign
The original “Play Like a Champion” sign hung over one of the entrances to Notre Dame’s stadium but was taken down, according to former head football head coach Lou Holtz. Holtz then decided to have another one made and put up near the exit of the team’s locker room.
And while many other programs have adopted the practice of touching a plaque or emblem prior to taking the field, Notre Dame’s “Champion” sign is the most recognizable, and tops the rest with its simple, unmistakable motto.
5. Chief Osceola Slams Burning Spear in the Ground
When your ritual involves charging the field on a horse named “Renegade” and slamming sharp, flaming weapons into the ground, you my friend, you win all the marbles.
Florida State’s tradition of a student dressed up as “Chief Osceola” riding his unfairly cool painted horse named “Renegade” into Doak Campbell Stadium and planting a burning spear into the ground at mid-field has been going on since 1978.
4. Harry Caray and the 7th-Inning Stretch at Wrigley
Music you can crack a tall, cool Budweiser to.
It might be sung at every other major league ballpark in the nation, but Cubs announcer Harry Caray and his rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field cannot—and will not—ever be topped.
3. The Flight of the "War Eagle"
Traditions don’t get much more heavy-metal than taming a big damn bird-of-prey in the name of school spirit.
They’re fierce and proud creatures, eagles are—and I can only imagine how many poor Auburn fans and bird handlers have fallen victim to wrathful fly-by raptor poopings in the name of this old and grand “War Eagle” tradition.
But their sacrifice is our gain, and if many souls must be clawed and defecated upon for a moment of beauty such as this, then so be it.
2. Clemson Football’s Run Down the Hill
1. Texas A&M’s “Midnight Yell"
I lost my voice at literally every football game I ever attended as an undergrad.
So I have to give Texas A&M’s students a lot of credit—their “12th Man” didn’t get his pipes by watching Gossip Girl and calling it lights out at 9 p.m. on a Friday night.
Nope, Texas A&M students continue to earn their notorious 12th Man status by showing up at Kyle Field for “yell practice” at the crack of midnight every Friday before home games.
It’s loud. It’s nuts. It’s tradition. And we’re not about to question it.