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First Badger football game day with fans back inside Camp Randall

After nearly two years since the last time they set foot inside the stadium, fans said there is nothing like the atmosphere of a Badger football game.
Published: Sep. 4, 2021 at 8:54 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The UW-Madison Badgers suffered a tough loss to Penn State at the first game day of the season, but there was still reason to celebrate. Saturday’s game marked the first time in nearly two years fans could cheer on the team from inside Camp Randall, after fans were kept out in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fans of all ages came back in full force, cheering, chanting and saying they are just excited to be back with their fellow fans and to experience the atmosphere of a Badger football game.

“Just being able to step back, get in the bleachers again...it’s just an experience of a lifetime,” said Badger fan Maxwell Weiss.

For fans like Weiss, it had been two years since his last football game. He said he is looking forward to the special game-day traditions he missed out on.

“Jump Around, for sure, the nerves are waiting for it,” Weiss said.

Football season in 2020 just was not the same.

“Just sitting on the couch watching it from home, it’s probably been one of the worst experiences of my life,” Weiss said.

Lifelong Badger fan Russ Sagmoen said, “It was sad to see Madison last summer with it being so dead, and now with the students being back, the vibrancy is slowly coming back.”

Sagmoen said he has been going to Badger football games since he was just five, and like so many fans, he has made it into a tradition with family and friends.

“We’ve been coming to games for 20 years together, we’ve got season tickets together,” Sagmoen said, arriving at the game with his friend Jonathan Belott.

That idea of tradition is what brought UW-Madison alum Meg Greco and her two young daughters back to Camp Randall.

“We try and make this a habit every single year and bring the girls to at least one game,” Greco explained, adding, “It’s always good to have them be back with me and kind of see exactly what I experienced when I was here.”

Greco said she is still worried about the pandemic, and she is not the only fan with those concerns.

“You know, there’s still some pause with everything going on with COVID,” she said.

Sagmoen’s friend Belott said he is “just trying to be careful.”

Still, for many fans, being back at Badger game day is worth it.

“We’re vaccinated, we’re doing what we can to partake,” Greco said.

UW-Madison student Grant Reek and his friends echoed Greco, saying, “It feels like we’re back in Wisconsin, everything’s getting back to normal.”

While Saturday’s loss was disappointing, there are plenty of games left in the season, and fans are excited to see how far the Badgers will go.

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