Tailgating in Berkeley carried on without the ‘Weekender’ game

Some students traveled over 300 miles for a ‘breath of fresh air.’

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Despite the postponement of the football game between USC and UC Berkeley, some USC students still traveled to up north to attend tailgates and social events during the weekend of the original game.

Traveling upstate to attend the rivalry game has become an annual tradition for the Trojan community known as the “Weekender.”

“While the game being cancelled wasn’t ideal, the spirit of the Weekender extends further than the game itself,” Alexis Handler said. Handler, a senior majoring in psychology, drove to the Bay Area with a group of friends for the tailgates and festivities. “I think, as USC students, we’ve endured a lot in the past few months and a getaway anywhere is like a breath of fresh air to us.”

More than 24 players on the Berkeley team tested positive for COVID before their Nov. 6 game against Arizona. The number of positive cases in players and staff has now increased to 44 players despite almost all of the team being fully vaccinated.

Given the Pac-12 policy that a team that cannot play because of COVID-related issues must forfeit the game, USC could have refused to reschedule the game and it would have been a win for the Trojans. Donte Williams, the team’s interim head coach, stated that he doesn’t believe that would be the best path, though, as he wants the team to compete through the end of the season.

Many students booked hotels and Airbnbs in San Francisco and traveled the nearly half hour trip to Berkeley for a few hours of tailgates and “game-day” celebrations — they just didn’t have a game to attend afterwards.

“It was a little bit more of a USC-wide San Francisco tourism trip that had a little bit of a Berkeley football game day thing thrown into it,” Julia Van Der Colff said in an interview. Van Der Colff is a senior studying business administration and intelligence and cyber operations.

Despite there being no game, the Trojan spirit still dominated UC Berkeley’s campus. “Everybody kind of ended up in the same spot at the same tailgate, which is really cool to see because there were more USC people there than Berkeley people,” Van Der Colff added.

The game is now postponed to the weekend of Dec. 4, and students who already attended the informal events during the weekend of Nov. 12 said they are not likely to return.

“After this weekend’s high attendance, I find it hard to believe that many people will

make it out to the Weekender, especially due to its proximity with finals and winter break,” said Ashton Finegold, a senior studying real estate development. Finegold traveled to the Bay Area, where he is from, with friends for the weekend of the originally scheduled game.

Handler also doesn’t think many USC students will make it for the rescheduled game at Berkeley since it is happening during valuable study time. “As much as I think a lot of us do like to support our teams, we are also here to be successful and achieve our goals,” she said. “I’ll be using that time to grind on the final stretch of the first semester knowing that I already had a great Weekender.”

Even though students might not attend the rescheduled game, the Trojans are gearing up for the final game of the season.

“We want to play the game, and a forfeit is not the way to go, and that’s not the way you want to qualify for a bowl game,” Williams said in a Tuesday night press conference. “Our whole thing is fighting on and competing. I’m pretty sure they want to compete against us. We look forward to that opportunity.”