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Everything You Need To Know About Attending The HBCU Classic

Everything You Need To Know About Attending The HBCU Classic

As Football season kicks off that has always meant something different in the HBCU Community!  This is the start of Band and Classic Season!  I am the proud father of an HBCU graduate who marched in the Band at Kentucky State University(Kentucky State Marching Thorobreds).  I looked forward to seeing my son march and perform.  I honestly can’t remember the score or who won or lost any of the games.  I do remember the halftime shows.  I remember the bands battling in the stands.  I remember the game against Clark Atlanta when the game was over and bands would not stop playing.  They even turned out the lights in the stadium in an attempt to get them to stop.  The two bands played in the dark and did not miss a note!  That is talent!


What to expect at an HBCU Football Classic

If you have been to an HBCU Football Classic, then you know it is always a weekend to remember.  If you haven’t, well let me describe the weekend for you.  The football game is not the main event.  The weekend starts with Alumni Parties thrown by each HBCU.  Usually, at an upscale location with a chance to meet, mingle and network.  This is a wonderful opportunity to interact with positive Black People in almost every age range.   From 24-65 with the sweet spot being 40-55.  The day of the football game there is usually a breakfast hosted by one or both of the schools.  It is yet another opportunity to see old friends make new friends and network. Next, come the Tailgate Parties.  The game may not start until 3 or 4 PM.  However, the Tailgate Parties start around 4 hours before the game.  This is where people represent their teams.  You wear your school colors or the school you are supporting.  Sounds of Smooth R&B, Classic Soul and Hip Hop can be heard in every direction.  You will see tents, chairs, grills, fires, bars and more.  You can smell the food cooking.  The fabulous aromas and fragrant smoke fill the area outside of the football stadium.  Even though you may have already eaten, your body will ache to at least sample some of the goods.

Outside the stadium

Around the stadium, you will find droves of vendors selling all of the things you need and many of the things you don’t.  Vendor wares usually include hair, t-shirts, videos and music, fashion and accessory items both real and knockoff.  There is an opportunity to buy food and drinks as well as HBCU paraphernalia.   Truth be told, the Tailgates are often more popular than the game.  I went to the Florida Classic one year in Orlando, FL.  There were 80 thousand people at the game and over 100 thousand people outside of the game.  That was a fun weekend!

The football game starts but there is no rush from the Tailgaters to get inside.  No, not at all.  They are still reminiscing about their days in college. Catching up on where people are and “Whatever happened to him or her?”  Somewhere around the 2nd Quarter, the stadiums begin to fill up.  Just in time to get something from the concessions, run to the restroom and be back in your seat in time to see the Halftime Show.

The Halftime Show

Now the moment we all have been waiting for!  It is time for the great bands to hit the field.  These bands have some great nicknames such as The Sonic Boom of the South, Showtime, The Human Jukebox and The Marching 100. The bands don’t come alone.  They bring the majorette dancers with them and they have great names too.  Like the Golden Girls from Alcorn, the Prancing J-settes from Jackson State, Alabama A&M University’s Dancing Divas, Hampton University’s Ebony Fire and the Howard University Ooh La La Girls.  This is a sight to see!  They dance, they buck, they prance and all with grace, fire, and fury!  Your heart will pound and your eyes will try to keep up with all of the action in an HBCU halftime show.

At the end of the game

After the game is over the fun doesn’t stop.  Usually, the Battle of the Bands continues as the bands play on.  Sometimes for an hour after the game is over the Bands are still playing and the Ladies are still dancing.  I have seen them turn the sprinklers on, make PA announcements, and even as I mentioned earlier turn the stadium lights off.  Yet the Bands play on.  Often the real winners are the Fans, Family, and Friends that stay watch and listen.  Meanwhile, outside the stadium, the tailgating continues.  The vendors are open and the lots stay full for hours.

Time to Party

Those who left may be racing back to the hotel or wherever they are staying to shower and change for the after parties.  You can easily find many After Parties the night following an HBCU Classic.  Some official, others just taking advantage of the crowd that has come to town.  Hotels, Radio stations, local clubs, restaurants, Strip Clubs, VFWs and American Legions generally get in on the Party scene.  You can party all night long or as long as that particular state will allow you to. If you check the hotel lobbies of the host hotels you will see people all night long.

Sunday rolls around and you would think it’s over. Well, now it’s time to worship.  Each School worships at different Churches.  Both have a Prayer Breakfast or Brunch.  Sometimes a Luncheon/Banquet is held.  Many times the Banquet is Thursday or Friday evening.  The Banquets are usually semi-formal and are quite the showcase for Women’s Gowns.  Football Classics provide a great reason to spend a weekend partying, participating and reuniting with old friends and acquaintances.  It is also an opportunity to make new friends and network.  As Football season kicks off again we know that means something different in the HBCU Community!


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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 34 different Countries mainly concentrated in Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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