Indiana University Overseas Study

AKARAKA!

I have never been to an IU sports game. I know, I’m an awful Hoosier. It’s just that there are a lot of things I’d rather be doing than watch a bunch of sweaty guys run around on a field. One time I went to a Wabash College football game to see the half-time show, so that is my only point of reference when it comes to these things.

But everyone keeps telling me that I need to go to a sports game while I’m in Korea so I can experience the cheering culture. I was reluctant to waste a Saturday, but if there was any good time to go it was the huge sports weekend between Yonsei University and its rival Korea University. It is known as the YonKo Games at Yonsei and the KoYon Games at KU because each university insists on having its name written first. There are five sporting events that last two days: basketball, baseball, ice hockey, rugby, and soccer.

I attended the second day of events to see rugby and soccer. It was held in the Olympic Stadium, and as I walked in I was already overwhelmed by the spectacle. There wasn’t a single student who wasn’t dressed in their school colors. A color guard and a team of bizarrely dressed cheerleaders were already flailing and gyrating to the music that was blaring from the stage at the edge of the field.  People in the crowd were going absolutely nuts. I got to my seat and tried to learn some of the cheers as I waited for the rugby game to start. I have to say, I was kind of excited for it considering I had never seen a rugby game played before. Though, I’m still not sure if I can say that because I don’t think I watched a single minute of the game.

I expected the cheering to die down at the game started but it just got more fervent. I didn’t actually see the game even start because I was too busy trying to follow all the dances. Through the entire game and half time show not a single person in the crowd stopped moving, let alone sat down. I have never seen anything like it. But Asian sports games are often this way – it’s more about cheering that it actually is about the game. It’s about coming together as a community. A lot of the cheers involved putting your arms around each other and singing about being friends or brothers. United against the other team.

I actually had fun.  It was much more like being at a concert than being at a sporting event.  I could dance and sing and look like an idiot and that’s just what I did.  The cheering didn’t even stop after the games.  After it was all over the whole crowd rushed the field and continued singing and dancing there.  The event ended with a concert headlined by K-pop girl group f(x), where the cheering continued into the night.

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