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Mizzou football traditions create team spirit, unity among fans

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA —You may have been to a football game before, but never as a student at MU. Missouri football games are unique experiences, filled with traditions, songs and cheers.

There is much more going on than just a football game. Here's a rundown.

Tiger Walk — Two hours before kickoff, the tradition known as the Tiger Walk takes place. Located on the west side of Memorial Stadium at the bridge spanning Providence Road, the team and coaching staff make the walk from the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex over the bridge and into the stadium.

The parking lot and bridge are lined with fans, cheerleaders and members of the band, giving the crowd a chance to see their favorite players up close before the game starts.

Seating — Once it's time to enter the stadium for the game, finding a prime seat  becomes a priority. The student section spans the lower bowl and two upper deck sections of the east side of the stadium, with certain sections reserved for certain student groups.

The south end zone to the 50-yard line is designated for general student seating. Anyone with a student ticket can sit in those seats. One section of this area is reserved for Marching Mizzou members, but the rest is fair game.

Two sections near the north end zone are for student groups, reserved for fraternities, sororities and other organizations that arrange to reserve their seats here. Any student group recognized by the Organization Resource Group with at least 10 members is eligible for group seating. These groups must complete and submit a group seating packet to the Mizzou Ticket Office by Aug. 24.

Tiger's Lair — Seats from the 50- to the 30-yard line are reserved for Tiger's Lair members. Tiger's Lair is the official student cheering section for Missouri football, with members receiving a special T-shirt and tickets to sit in that section. The section cheers and performs card stunts during home games. Tiger's Lair has an office in the Student Center, or call 882-4965.

Marching Mizzou — About 25 minutes before kickoff, after the teams have retreated to their locker rooms following warm-ups, Marching Mizzou takes the field for pregame festivities. The marching band runs through the routine of the fight songs, starting with the Missouri Fanfare and concluding with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. When they march off the field after the performance, it's almost game time.

Pregame introductions — As Marching Mizzou members are filing back into their seats, the announcer takes the mic and welcomes Tiger fans to Memorial Stadium. He reads the names of the starting Tigers, causing a roar from the fans each time a player is introduced. After all 22 players are introduced, the pregame introduction video is played,  whipping the fans into a frenzy with highlights and music. After the video, it's finally game time as the players run out of the locker room under a banner reading "Rip 'em up Tigers."

Truman's Taxi — While this is happening, a firetruck is parked in the southwest corner of the stadium with a big yellow tiger perched on the roof. This may seem out of place at a football game, but this is Truman's Taxi, a vintage Boone County firetruck.

It carries Truman the Tiger, the team mascot, around the track to pump up the crowd. The truck parks in front of Tiger's Lair, where Truman climbs down and soaks the section with water as he stands on the brick wall that circles the field.

Truman stays involved with the crowd throughout the game, walking around the entire stadium for photo ops and to occasionally cheer with the fans. Following every Tigers' score, Truman does a pushup for each point scored, alongside ROTC students in the north end zone.

Kickoff — After all of this, you might not remember that there's still an entire football game to be played. But when the teams line up for kickoff and everyone's hands are raised in unison, you'll snap back to reality. When the kicker's foot strikes the ball, everyone drops their hands and scream, "Go Tigers."

Chants cheers and songs — By now, you should know the basic cheers at a Mizzou football game. The most popular is the M-I-Z Z-O-U call and response between both sides of the stadium.

The students are responsible for the M-I-Z portion of the cheer. The rest of the fans shout Z-O-U. Most of the other popular cheers correlate with the songs the band plays, including "Every True Son," "Fight Tiger" and "Hey Baby."

The fight songs lyrics and music can be found at Mizzou.com.

Halftime — After a full 30 minutes of play, halftime rolls around and Marching Mizzou takes the field for an encore performance. This usually is centered around a certain theme and includes more popular songs as opposed to Missouri songs. This gives fans about 15 minutes to sit down and rest their voices to prepare for the second half.

Missouri Waltz — This is one of the most popular, fun traditions during a football game. Between the third and fourth quarters, the band plays "The Missouri Waltz," the official state song. Everyone at the game goes into an arm-waving, hand-clapping, cheering frenzy. It sets the tone for the fourth quarter, the final act.

Alma Mater — After the game wraps up and everyone starts to file out of the stadium, stick around a few extra minutes to sing Missouri's alma mater, "Old Missouri."

Wrap your arms around your neighbors, sway to the beat and sing along with the band as they play their finale. It's a great way to put a cap on a full eventful game that, hopefully, results in a Missouri victory.


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