By: Morin Mawhinney

She’s running, plowing down anyone who challenges her in the process! She’s halfway down the field, the crowd around me has their breath held. All of a sudden, down she goes, in a glorious display of brute strength, taking half the team with her! The people around me erupt into a vivid display of emotion that could be either anger or UPEI pride. Will I ever know which it was, or what was happening? Probably not. UPEI Women’s Rugby recently had their opening home game, and as a dedicated UPEI student, and a supportive best friend, I attended! This seemed like a fun, tumblr­y, and stereotypically Autumn idea, until I arrived at the vast expanse of field and had several things dawned on me.

  1. I was wearing a shirt whose colors exactly matched the opposing team.
  2. I had no idea how Rugby, or any other sport for that matter, works (and to be honest, I still don’t.)
  3. My ideas of what happen at a sports game were slightly romanticized due to watching The Blind Side too many times.

So to prevent these, and some other embarrassing mistakes I made at my first University athletic event, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help the non-­sporty people of the world. I might be sunburnt and still sweating from the heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.

  1. Wardrobe counts. Know the colors of both participants so you can dress appropriately in your team colors, or at least to avoid showing up in the colors of the opposition. In addition to that, remember that just because we’re back to school, that doesn’t mean it’s sweater weather yet! Jeans are not always a good idea.
  2. Be exclusive when choosing your companion. Go with someone who has a basic understanding of the game so they can tell you that even though that girl is being helped off the field in tears, it’s all within the rules. She might even have a feast in her honor, like the great warriors of old.
  3. Be cautious where you sit! Did you know that at most sports events each team will have a section in the stands? It’s like bride and groom sides at a wedding. Don’t sit with the groom’s family if you’ve known the bride since birth. It gets awkward when you start cheering at different times.
  4. Wear sunscreen, or you might end up sunburnt on only one side of your body. There is now a very distinctive ombre effect from my left side to my right.
  5. Play Sherlock Holmes. By paying close and deductive attention to events on the field, in correlation to when people cheer, you can hone a better understanding of the point system.
  1. Follow the leader. Even though you may not know exactly what is happening, it’s usually pretty safe to clap with the majority! The louder you cheer, the more a part of it you feel.
  2. Don’t be judgey, that’s the referee’s job. Prepare yourself for many people who are deeply emotionally involved in this game, and though you may not understand why, you do you and let them do them.
  3. Nutrition is necessary! These games can be lengthy so pack a water bottle, pack a lunch, and pack your patience. I believe Cracker Jacks are a classic sport snack choice…but that might be just for baseball.
  4. Remain sportsmanlike! I’m not sure how deeply you will become intertwined with the game, but keep it classy. Remember, yelling at the other team is not the same as supporting yours.
  5. “Remember who you are!” Primarily, I was there as a best friend, however the longer I stayed and the louder I cheered, I became a Panther. A bonus of cheering for a friend was even when I didn’t understand what was happening, I could yell her number and be sure I was cheering for the right team.

So there you have it, ten tips that will enhance your sports experience; now get out there and support your Panthers!