Sports and other forms of entertainment have always offered a measure of escape from day-to-day life.
Nowhere has that been more evident than now, especially the past two Saturday nights at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
The lights turned out. “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC echoed over the speakers. And the end zones blasted fire while stadium lights danced across the field. Not only were the players dancing on the sideline, but the crowd was at a fevered pitch for the stadium’s new fourth-quarter hype sequence introduced during the Northwestern game.
And this was something you couldn’t experience on television.
Plainly speaking, there’s something significant about the shared experience that’s simply absent when we’re atomized, fragmented, forced to be apart from each other. Perhaps that’s why Americans are going to Broadway shows, movie theaters, music concerts and Husker games in person — rather than watching on a television screen.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost called it the best home vibe he’s seen since the Akron opener in 2018 that lasted only a kickoff before thunderstorms canceled the game.
“We need noise, we need help,” Frost said. “Hope the fans are as excited as we are.”
And many are, judging by the crowd reaction at the stadium and the social media comments, videos and photos that followed the flashing lights, torches in the end zones and a glowing red light on the big screens boasting a simple message: “No place like Nebraska.”
There truly is no place like Nebraska, where the stands are full again for high school sporting events — unlike last year, when only family members were allowed in.
There are no 6-foot social distancing restrictions or vaccination cards needed. With the state football playoffs looming next month, expect to see fans huddling together even closer to make room for more, with nary a mask to be seen — except to shield them from the cold weather.
Even if no one knows when this COVID-19 pandemic really will end, the hustle and bustle of our lives appears to be back. Forget all of the division in today’s world, whether it be politics, COVID-19 and more.
Ready or not, our fun and games are moving forward, with full stadiums and, in many cases, few protocols. Having an audience there makes it all mean more — to those competing and to those watching, who are more than just part of the scenery.
They’re a character in the show.
And that’s a story that’s worth watching.