When it comes to HBCU football, the setting is just as important as the product on the pitch. Fans, groups, stadiums and more create a unique environment in which teams can play.
Here are some of the must-see atmospheres on game days in HBCU football.
6 must-see HBCU football game atmospheres
Jackson State home football game – Jackson, MS
60,000 and over. That’s the capacity of a Jackson State home football game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Tigers play in the largest stadium in any HBCU not used for professional sports. Jackson State led the FCS in terms of average attendance in 2018 and 2019.
Fans of a Jackson State home game combined with Jackson State’s side Sonic Boom of the South give the Tigers one of the best advantages on the field. The number of people cheering (or booing) around the stadium creates an incredible atmosphere on match day.
DASHBOARD: Follow all of Jackson State’s upcoming home games here
Labor Day Classic – Houston, Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas – and the Labor Day Classic is no different. Texas’ two biggest HBCUs, Texas Southern and Prairie View A&M, come together every Labor Day weekend to play their annual rivalry game. Just 50 miles apart, the two SWACs are playing for the Durley-Nicks Trophy and bragging about each other.
With usually a day off on Mondays, Labor Day Classic weekend is full of events that include support rallies, hatchbacks, and a group battle. When it comes to product on the court, Texas Southern is the all-time series leader after a dominant streak in the ’90s. However, Prairie View A&M has won the last six meetings.
36TH LABOR DAY CLASSIC: Follow Texas Southern vs. Prairie View A&M
A&T Reunion in North Carolina – Greensboro, NC
They don’t call it the Greatest Homecoming On Earth (GHOE) for no reason. North Carolina A&T homecoming, GHOE, is a comprehensive event that people from across the country travel to experience. The whole week leading up to the reunion game is filled with celebrations, performances and more.
North Carolina A & T’s recent success in the field only adds to the extravagance. The Aggies have won nine straight back-to-school games with an average margin of victory of 33 points. While the celebration would continue regardless of the outcome, a resounding victory gives players a party on the pitch and fans a party off.
GHOE 2021: Reigning Great South Champion Monmouth visits A&T North Carolina
Bayou Classic – New Orleans, LA
Since 1974, the Saturday after Thanksgiving in New Orleans has been the place to go if you’re an HBCU football fan. It’s for the Bayou Classic, an annual game between rivals SWAC and Louisiana Grambling State and Southern schools.
The Superdome hosts this game and creates an atmosphere like no other. Like the other events on this list, the Bayou class encompasses the entire weekend. Friday’s Bands Battle fills half the stadium with music filling the rest as Southern’s band The Human Jukebox take on Grambling State’s Tiger Marching Band.
As match day draws near, the excitement is at its height. Fans from both schools create a noisy atmosphere. Grambling State and Southern have played some of their best matches in the Bayou Classic, with the Jaguars winning the last three meetings.
Howard Homecoming – Washington, DC
Howard Homecoming is a landmark event that has been featured in pop culture on TV, in movies, and more. Kind of a reunion, thousands of people flock to Howard as the nation’s capital hosts events and celebrations.
The reunion ends with a Bison home football game right in front of the campus lawn. Fans pack Greene Stadium for the main event.
Florida Classic – Orlando, Florida
The Florida Classic features two of Florida’s top HBCUs competing against each other each year in a neutral venue game in Orlando, Florida. Longtime rivals Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman have played in the Florida Classic since 1978, with over 2 million fans in attendance at that time.
Fans of both schools travel to see their schools earn the state bragging rights for the year. The game is often hotly contested, with the Wildcats having an 11-10 lead over the Rattlers since 1997.
Bragging rights also extend beyond the football field. The halftime show between Florida A & M’s Marching 100 and Bethune-Cookman’s Marching Wildcats creates a competition in a competition as the groups perform in front of a thrilled crowd.
FLORIDA CLASSIC: the two new members of SWAC meet on Saturday 20 November 2021