HBCU Football Spectacles 2019: The Magic City Classic
The MCC is one of the oldest and most venerable spectacles in all of Black College Football. It's one of the most enjoyable, too.
August is always a really great time to be a football fan. Training camps and the anticipation of the upcoming season alone are enough to really get the juices flowing, whether you're a fan of pro football, big-time college football, or otherwise. HBCU football games, in particular, could be considered home to some of the most unique and enjoyable fan experiences imaginable for the sport. Black College Football holds a special place in my heart in terms of an overall game day experience. I'm an alum of the Alabama State University "Mighty Marching Hornets" band program, so I've been blessed to view the HBCU game day experience as both a game day participant, and as an old-fashioned fan. There may not be a spectacle more representative of the unique nature of the Black College Football fan experience than one of the oldest HBCU Football Classics in existence, The Magic City Classic.With the organized version of the event starting in 1945, it's considered one of the oldest and most venerable of the HBCU Football Classics in existence today. The Bayou Classic (Southern vs. Grambling State), The Florida Classic (Florida A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman University), and the Southern Heritage Classic have all had a TON of visibility over the years, but the MCC has a fan and overall game day experience that rivals some of the best in the nation. The typical MCC festivities start almost a week in advance of game day with a myriad of parties, social events, and student recruitment efforts. Performances by major R&B recording artists, Stepshows and related events, and a "Battle of the Bands" face off between the MMW (Marching Maroon & White) of AAMU and the MMH (Mighty Marching Hornets) of ASU really make the entire week an exhilarating experience for any fan. Sensory overload is a REAL thing for this event prior to any turf in venerable Legion Stadium being disrupted by cleats and pigskin.Then, there's Magic City Classic game day...
Whether you're a Bulldog or a Hornet, the fan bases from each school are some of the most passionate in the SWAC (The Southwestern Athletic Conference). They're also representative of the all-inclusive, welcome-to-the-cookout, friendly nature of HBCU football fandom in general. It's this kind of camaraderie that I fell in love with as a fan of the HBCU experience.
The Game Day Experience
The game day experience for both the diehard and casual football fan is simply amazing. If this is your first exposure to an authentic HBCU football environment, odds are that you'll be hooked on the spectacle going forward. Tailgate lots and hotel reservations for the game are often sold out AT LEAST eight months in advance, so it's definitely not for the procrastination-prone in terms of last-minute travel and scheduling. Once on the grounds of Legion Field, the sights, sounds, and smells dazzle the senses. The rivalry between Alabama A&M and Alabama State attracts the attention of the entire state for one amazing weekend, and the party doesn't really stop until the Legion Field parking and tailgate areas completely clear out. Then, there are the bands...
If you don't go to an HBCU football game for anything else, go for the halftime art form that the band programs partake in. Marching Bands are a unique part of the HBCU game day experience, with a competition culture and rivalries that are just as intense as the competition between the football teams. Think of it like a friendlier version of the Hatfields and McCoys, with Top 40 music and dance routines. The "Mighty Marching Hornets" of Alabama State University and the "Marching Maroon and White" of Alabama A&M are part of this unique halftime tradition and the fans are better for it. Two of the best programs in HBCU Bandom reside in the state of Alabama, and are part of the more visible representations of the HBCU Football experience. It doesn't get any better than that.If you're a fan of good college football and GREAT fan experiences, a visit to Birmingham Alabama in late October should be on your list of potential destinations. You won't regret it!