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The REAL Reason College Football Fans Wave Their Shoes

Sports fans are known for their passion and crazy antics. And this is especially true with college football fans waving shoes in the air during kickoffs. 

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Who do college football fans wave shoes?

College football fans wave shoes during the games because of tradition. It’s rumored this first began at the University of Nebraska years ago because of a shoeless kicker. It’s also regained popularity recently because of kicker Adi Kunalic at Nebraska. Other schools have followed the trend too. 

After careful research and years of attending games, we’ve learned more about this unique gameday tradition. 

We also spoke with students and fans to see what they know about it from prominent schools like Nebraska. We share everything we know about college football fans waving shoes below.  

Why Are College Football Fans Waving Shoes?

For many students and college football fans, waving shoes in the air during college games is an exciting part of the spectacle. It’s a traditional way of expressing joy and excitement, but why are they doing it?

Nebraska fans claim to have invented this tradition in the early 1900s at their college football games. As time passed, more fan bases at different schools started participating in this practice – thus creating “the shoe wave” phenomenon. 

This simple gesture has become an iconic symbol for college football fans nationwide during games. Typically, the students will do this chant to start a game or during a kickoff after their team scores a touchdown. 

Many rumors circulate about the waving shoe tradition too. Some believe it was a tribute to a kicker from the 1960s who would do kickoffs barefoot. Other fans say it was a tribute to a recent kicker named Adi Kunalic at Nebraska. 

So that’s why today, thousands of college football fans take off their shoes each weekend to join in on this unique tradition. Team pride peaks as they throw their soles toward the sky, emulating passion unlike any other ritual across American sports venues. 

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What Does Waving Shoes At A College Football Game Mean?

The truth is nobody knows the actual reason why or when this tradition started or what it means. It’s one of those things that happened long ago, and nobody understands its original birthplace. 

But we know it’s incredible to see when the cameras on TV pan over to the students, and they all have a shoe in their hands. It’s funny and also exciting because the crowd noise reaches new levels. 

Show Team Support

Many fan bases around the country have started doing the waving shoes chant as a way to show team support. Teams in the Big Ten, like Ohio State and Nebraska, are two of the most prominent names doing this every game. 

Excite The Crowd

The waving shoes signify team spirit and triumph – whether players celebrate touchdowns or home wins. Seeing thousands of colorful footwear waiving high above heads creates an unforgettable stadium atmosphere. 

This helps excite the crowd after the team scores and when they are kicking off to the opponent. 

Tribute To A Former Player

It’s also a ceremonial tribute to former players within the Nebraska program. It’s also done to motivate the kicker to put the kickoff through the end zone with power for a touchback. 

Many Nebraska fans say the revival of this tradition happened because of Adi Kunalic. He was a kicker with a powerful leg who was famous for easily kicking the ball through the endzone. 

Do All College Football Fans Wave Their Shoes? 

The waving of shoes in the crowd at college football games is not something we will see at every school. It’s only done by a handful of schools, primarily in the Big Ten. 

It has gained popularity over the past ten years and spread to new schools. Before that, it was considered a Nebraska tradition, and only their fan base would perform every game. 

Confirmed schools we know of that have performed this tradition include Ohio State, Nebraska, and Purdue. Keep an eye out for it when watching a game next time. 

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What Are Some Other Celebrations By College Football Fans? 

The waving of shoes is not the only crazy celebration college football fans have thought of. Every school has some sort of tradition, and we have listed some of the most notable that are just as crazy as this one. 

Key Jingling

Many college students, especially in the Big Ten, will jingle their keys before a kickoff during the football game. This is a way to increase crowd noise and for the entire student section to join together, similar to the fans waving shoes. 

It also helps to distract the other team (if the college cheerleaders aren’t doing it already).

Some schools seen doing this celebration include Northwestern and Nebraska. 

Wisconsin Fans Jump Around

One of the most recognizable cheers is found in Madison, Wisconsin, where the University of Wisconsin Badger fans perform what they call “Jump Around.” 

This tradition began in 1998 during a win against Purdue University. Over 80,000 Badger fans jumped up and down all at once, making Camp Randall Stadium shake with an incredible energy that could be felt throughout the arena. 

The crowd continues this celebration between quarters of each home game.

West Virginia Fans Singing

In Morgantown, the West Virginia Mountaineer faithful share a passion for singing John Denver’s anthem “Take Me Home Country Roads” after wins, during the game, and even before games sometimes. 

Florida’s Gator Chomp

Gator Chomping is one of Florida Gators’ football team traditions, and during the games, every fan in the stadium will do the gator chomp with their arms. 

It’s a must-see phenomenon, and it’s widely recognized today as one of the loudest chants. Over 90,000 fans simultaneously clap their hands together, raising the noise inside the stadium to deafening levels. 

Key Takeaways

  • College football fans wave shoes because of an old school tradition. It’s a way to show team support, excite the crowd, and honor prior players and school traditions. 
  • Other crazy celebrations by college football fans include the keys jingling, West Virginia fans singing Country Roads, Wisconsin “jump around,” and the Florida gator chomp. 
  • Not every team does the shoe-waving chant, and we have mostly seen it done in Big Ten games with teams like Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, and Ohio State.