For many Americans, Thanksgiving Day is not only about tables full of food with family and friends helping you eat, it’s also about football. Once all the turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes are consumed, many of us will slowly waddle into the living room, collapse on the nearest sofa, turn on the TV, and tune in to one of the many football bowl games playing that day. Some people are even lucky enough to secure tickets to the actual games, spending Thanksgiving cheering on their favorite team in person, while eating a Thanksgiving meal of hot dogs and beer alongside thousands of other football fans.
But, what if, while you’re watching the game, you see a specter pass by your seat or you witness a shadow cross in front of the 50-yard line. What would you do? Well, it could happen because several of America’s football stadiums are purported to be haunted.
Notre Dame University in Indiana is not only famous for its football team, it was also the home of “The Gipper.” George Gipp was the first Notre Dame football player to make the All-American team and still holds the university’s record for most average yards per rush for a season. Sadly, though, he died at the young age of 25, in 1920, after contracting pneumonia (possibly from strep throat). His illness was most likely the result of spending a cold December night sleeping on the steps of Washington Hall. After his passing, the doors in Washington Hall, and throughout Notre Dame’s campus, would mysteriously open and close of their own accord and students reported hearing a French Horn playing at night. By 1925, five years after his death, many reported seeing the Gipp ride up Washington Hall’s front steps astride a white horse. Could he be trying to join the Notre Dame football team’s four horsemen (1924’s backfield team)? We’ll never know. But, if you happen to go to a Notre Dame football game, keep your eyes open for George Gipp astride his white steed.
Indiana University’s football stadium also has a resident ghost, but theirs is a more gruesome story. Michael Plume, an Indiana U student in 1960, was found hung from the rafters of the nearly completed stadium. He was 19-years-old and was discovered at the then-incomplete western side of the stadium stands. There are many questions surrounding his death, one of which was why were the soles of Michael’s shoes clean and free from dirt in the middle of this active construction site? Conspiracies abound, but eventually his death was ruled a suicide. To this day, fans and stadium workers claim to see Michael’s body hanging in the same location he was found. Will you be the next person to see Michael’s spirit at the next Indiana University home football game?
The Kansas State University football stadium is home to the spirit of Nick, a football player who purportedly died in the 1950s after suffering an injury during football practice. He was rushed into the ground-level cafeteria where he later died from his injuries. The cafeteria is now the home of the Purple Masque Theater where jokester Nick still hangs out. It seems he can’t help himself and loves playing jokes on unsuspecting students and football fans. He is blamed for moving auditorium chairs, playing music, and levitating boxes. If you’re a KSU Wildcats fan and you’re watching a home football game, maybe you’ll be lucky and ghost Nick will play a prank on you!
The ghosts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are completely different, though. These are Civil War ghosts who are clearly still suffering and under the impression that the war continues. The stadium, Camp Randall, is named after a Union training camp that once stood nearby. During the Civil War, Camp Randall was used as a Confederate prison camp. Of course, conditions were horrible and many Confederate soldiers died there. Fans and staff alike report seeing sick and injured Southern soldiers in and around the stadium. When you find yourself at a Badgers game, staring down a wounded Confederate soldier, have some pity and give him a pass.
Ghosts and spirits are everywhere. They exist alongside us, sometimes intersecting our daily lives. Even during loud, bright, crowded moments like football games, we can still be witnesses to the paranormal. Just remember to always keep your eyes open and that when you see that passing spirit, you are one of the lucky ones!