What’s The Difference Between Fans Of College and Pro Football?

Above are pictures of the packed venues for the respective football games, at Kenan Memorial Stadium and Bank of America Stadium. There are major differences of facial expressions and reactions for each game. (Photo courtesy of Matt Wiener)

This past weekend, on September 8-9, I had the opportunity to go on an intense football weekend with my father and his friends. On the night of September 8 (Saturday), we went to Kenan Memorial Stadium to watch the UNC Tarheels take on the Miami Hurricanes in ACC action. The following afternoon, on Sunday, we traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to watch the hometown heroes Carolina Panthers face the Los Angeles Rams, the Super Bowl runner-ups.

Though both games were exciting and fun to watch, the one factor of both games that intrigued myself were the different reactions fans would give to the game’s momentum. Each game’s fans were rooting for the home team more, but the fans from the away team made their presence known.

Both the college and professional game had their own atmosphere and I got a first hand look at the major and minor differences between each of the attitudes of the fans in attendance. 

As the Miami Hurricanes took the field to a chorus of boos in front of a sold out Chapel Hill crowd, there was a strong representation of the Hurricanes at the game as well. As we sat on the away side, near the south endzone, where most of the Hurricanes fans were located at the game,who made noise, but was drowned out  by the fans of the home team.

What makes a college football game atmosphere unique is the pure intensity favoring the home team. The UNC fans all brought their highest energy levels for the  home opener of the Tar Heels, the game that usually draws the most attendance besides playoff games. 


A noticeable difference between college and professional games is the student sections. Out of the 51,000 max capacity at Kenan Memorial Stadium, the Tar Heel student section was the most energetic and rambunctious of the blue wearing fans. Every big play, the student section jumped and cheered first longest. The student section doesn’t get hype, they stay hyped.


Compared to the college game, the Panthers stadium also brought the noise with an almost sold out 75,000 max capacity. However, there was a noticeable difference in terms of team representation. The Rams had a plethora of fans evenly distributed among each section of Bank of America stadium. Rams jerseys were abundant but nowhere close to outnumbering the Panthers fans. 


The passion each fanbase brought for their team was nothing short of intense. Like at most football games, the fans reached their peak volume when it came time for an opposing team’s offense on 3rd down, where the home team’s defense could make a big play to a chorus of cheers from the fans. Neither team resulted in being booed off the field for bad performances, with the exception of a bad play every once in a while.


The attitudes between the college and professional fan bases differ more than one would think. While in section 101 at the Miami-UNC game, the Hurricanes fans around myself were quite restless. For example, a kind gentleman sitting behind me began to yell his loudest about how the Tarheels were “weak” and needed to “get in the weight room”. I found humor in an instance like this, because as a neutral fan I found it funny that one guy was heckling the North Carolina team when he was surrounded by blue.


But another instance of a hardcore football fan happened during an injury in the game. When a UNC player went down, I heard a Hurricanes fan behind me begin a two minute long chant that repeated the phrase, “We got another one!”,over and over again. 


Even I could tell the chant was in bad taste because the UNC fans around him began to heavily glare at the fan. This is just a prime example of the intensity the away fans bring to high-energy rivalry games in the realm of college football. 


On the other hand, from what I could notice, the NFL fans kept a mostly chill vibe throughout the game. Though there are certain instances about wild fans during games throughout the season, after long looks around the stadium, I could not find many fans who were purposely antagonizing the Panthers with negative comments like the previous night. 


Luckily for fans, every football game that takes place offers different situations to react to in their own unique way. For the fans on the hardcore side, chants, cheers and boos will all come with any play, on any drive.


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