Getting the most out of your college's sports

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Getting the Most Out of Your College's Sports
It's the fall semester of a new school year, and college sports are in full swing. Although there are plenty of great college sports to follow, almost the entire country gets swept up in the top divisions of college football and basketball. Need some proof? Some college football stadiums are filled and attended by as many as 90,000 people per game, and there is the traditional annual announcement of President Obama’s bracket picks for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball championships.
Whether it is state or regional pride, alumni loyalty or the admiration of heart and dedication displayed by college athletes, there is no doubt that the country is in love with its college sports. In case you are a new fan or are trying to dedicate yourself as a more spirited spectator, here are five tips for getting the most out of your college’s sports:
1. Become a Fan
Choosing a school to root for should be as easy as showing up on orientation day. Perhaps you grew up rooting for a parent’s or sibling’s alma mater, but unless you followed in their footsteps, your school should probably be your team. But there is the question of how college teams are divided up and rated. For this, you can check out this introduction to college sports . It will give you the basics of the NCAA and its conferences, as well as the basics of college football and basketball.
2. Follow Teams
Learning the names of every member of a team’s roster isn’t necessary for following your team. But you will want to keep up to date on which teams they will be playing in the future and also what their current record is for the season. For this, you can go to your team's website, check the school paper or even watch some ESPN.
3. Go to Games
This is your chance to be a spectator of the spectacle! Going to your school’s stadium on game day is a major regional event. Alumni and fans from all over come into town wearing their colors to tailgate and catch the game. There is almost always a pep rally involved, with homemade banners and mascot cameos. Most colleges have a lively tailgating scene complete with regional food and beverages.
4. Become Part of the Local Sports Community
If there is no home game that week or if you’ve graduated already, you can always check in with local bars or student/fan organizations to go to game viewings. Sometimes these are in student centers, in outdoor venues on large screens or even broadcast in the team's stadium for the full experience of cheering along with your team's dedicated supporters.
5. Play Video Games
Video games can really deepen your knowledge and comprehension of a sport. Today’s video games bring a level of realism that is utilized by the athletes themselves as a training tool. The EA Sports NCAA titles feature update-able rosters with real life statistics and rating systems to give you a better understanding of which teams and players to watch. You will also learn more about the terminology, strategy and play development, which will make you a more informed and in-depth spectator.
By Joshua John -- he currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Virtual Master of Social Work program, which provides social workers the opportunity to earn an online social work degree  and apply for a social work license . He also loves gadgets, movies, and all things Batman. Follow him on twitter  @joshuavjohn.

It's the fall semester of a new school year, and college sports are in full swing. Although there are plenty of great college sports to follow, almost the entire country gets swept up in the top divisions of college football and basketball. Need some proof? Some college football stadiums are filled and attended by as many as 90,000 people per game, and there is the traditional annual announcement of President Obama’s bracket picks for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball championships.

Whether it is state or regional pride, alumni loyalty or the admiration of heart and dedication displayed by college athletes, there is no doubt that the country is in love with its college sports. In case you are a new fan or are trying to dedicate yourself as a more spirited spectator, here are five tips for getting the most out of your college’s sports:

1. Become a Fan -- Choosing a school to root for should be as easy as showing up on orientation day. Perhaps you grew up rooting for a parent’s or sibling’s alma mater, but unless you followed in their footsteps, your school should probably be your team. But there is the question of how college teams are divided up and rated. For this, you can check out this introduction to college sports. It will give you the basics of the NCAA and its conferences, as well as the basics of college football and basketball.

2. Follow Teams -- Learning the names of every member of a team’s roster isn’t necessary for following your team. But you will want to keep up to date on which teams they will be playing in the future and also what their current record is for the season. For this, you can go to your team's website, check the school paper or even watch some ESPN.

3. Go to Games -- This is your chance to be a spectator of the spectacle! Going to your school’s stadium on game day is a major regional event. Alumni and fans from all over come into town wearing their colors to tailgate and catch the game. There is almost always a pep rally involved, with homemade banners and mascot cameos. Most colleges have a lively tailgating scene complete with regional food and beverages.

4. Become Part of the Local Sports Community -- If there is no home game that week or if you’ve graduated already, you can always check in with local bars or student/fan organizations to go to game viewings. Sometimes these are in student centers, in outdoor venues on large screens or even broadcast in the team's stadium for the full experience of cheering along with your team's dedicated supporters.

5. Play Video Games -- Video games can really deepen your knowledge and comprehension of a sport. Today’s video games bring a level of realism that is utilized by the athletes themselves as a training tool. The EA Sports NCAA titles feature update-able rosters with real life statistics and rating systems to give you a better understanding of which teams and players to watch. You will also learn more about the terminology, strategy and play development, which will make you a more informed and in-depth spectator.

By Joshua John -- he currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Virtual Master of Social Work program, which provides social workers the opportunity to earn an online social work degree  and apply for a social work license. He also loves gadgets, movies, and all things Batman. Follow him on twitter  @joshuavjohn.

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