There was a charged atmosphere Monday night.
Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Sports crowds are living, breathing, palpable beings: tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of people crammed into an area that you would otherwise never even attempt to cram tens of thousands of people into. It can take on personalities of its own, and it can shift and morph based on a variety of factors and circumstances, from the scoreboard to the weather to how much time everybody had to drink beforehand. I’ve seen Crowd start a game cheering for one team and end it rooting for the other one. I’ve seen Crowd scream continuously for four straight hours. In one particularly memorable instance, I’ve seen Crowd stand up as one and wordlessly walk out of the stadium in disgust, as if controlled by some sort of cosmic puppeteer.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Crowd make sounds like I heard Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans. The College Football Playoff National Championship Game may have been the perfect storm of crazy crowds, a powder keg of combustible elements that threatened to blow the roof off the Superdome all night. First off, it was in New Orleans, with most of the 75,000 fans indulging in all the creature comforts of the Big Easy from the minute they woke up until the 7:15 local kickoff. (I saw a man Monday morning with his face painted orange, wearing a Clemson Tiger tail and a Guy Fieri visor, carry a daiquiri into a Starbucks while actively vaping. That was a first.) It also featured fans from LSU, the hometown team having a dream season behind its Heisman Trophy–winning quarterback — and from Clemson, whose team had won two of the last three titles and which boasts a notoriously intense fan base — screaming back and forth at each other like Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. And the Superdome holds sounds like a crowded subway car holds heat, or odor.

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