• Colorado Daily file photo

    Ralphie waits while her handlers prepare to practice running with her on Folsom Field.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Chip directs the roller coaster during a basketball game. If you wanna hang with the C Unit, you're gonna need some Buffs gear and a loud voice (and a banana suit wouldn't hurt).

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Good luck getting in as one of Ralphie's handlers. She's the most popular ungulate on campus.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado mascot Chip holds the Centennial Cup after CU defeated Colorado State University during the Rocky Mountain Showdown. If all goes well today, you may see a repeat of this very image.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Chip does his thing with CU students before a game in Boulder.



For fans of CU sports — where a culture of domestic violence mishandling seems to permeate to the highest levels and losing streaks abound — school spirit is often hard, less about the school itself as much as it’s a vessel for getting fucked up.

But goddamnit, if we’re good at something, it’s that.

From the infamous “blackout” games to Welcomefests that have attracted the likes of Colorado’s homegrown producing legend Pretty Lights, CU students have shown their capacity for spirit in the face of bleak times.

So “spirited” in fact, some years it’s actually cost the university money (outside of, you know, those domestic violence settlements).

Excited spectators have rushed the field in years past, causing CU to face at least $75,000 in fines under a new rule created especially for Buffs.

The first offense for rushing the field in the first minute after a game ends is $25,000, the second is $50,000 and the third is 100,000.

So unless you want to see your parents’ hard-earned tuition dollars going to pay for your five minutes of fun after a football game, here are some other options to express your school spirit.

The C-Unit

The C-Unit is like a giant, undulating Trojan Magnum condom wrapper — full of bluster and decked out in black and gold.

Much like a condom with a boastful name, black and gold doesn’t always mean someone has game.

But the Buffs’ had game this year, rising from the overly expensive underground wine cellar of the Pac-12 to playing in the championships. Er, where they lost, but still.

Joining the C-Unit is easy and relatively cheap.

All you have to do is go find something black or gold and show up to games. If you want to go all out, hit up the C-Unit Facebook page at to coordinate card stunts, chest paintings and more.

Ralphie Runners

If you thought running beside a live buffalo in front of a rabid, screaming audience would be an easy way to flesh out your extracurricular resume, think again (and also, like, maybe calm down a little bit).

John Graves, the program manager for the Ralphie live mascot program, said each handler puts in about 30 hours per week year-round, without pay.

The handlers build up their strength and conditioning, do practices with Ralphie and perform basic buffalo care for her. Yes, Ralphie is a her. It’s 2017 — get with the times, man.

Five handlers run with Ralphie per game — two on each side and one at the back to control her speed. Ten other people make sure the path is clear and no objects (or stupid freshmen) are in the way.

Graves said the position of Ralphie handler is coveted: “Typically between 50 and 70 people apply each year and try out.”

What are Ralphie handler tryouts? If you were picturing a Gladiator-style standoff in front of the entire school like I was, we are both going to be sorely disappointed.

Graves and his team review all the applications and have everyone come out for speed trials, which are three timed 100-yard sprints. Then, all the applicants are invited to a spring football game to see what the handlers do on a game day to prepare.

Once the field is narrowed down to about 15 applicants, prospective Ralphie handlers still must pass the in-person interview with coaches and the outgoing seniors.

Think you have what it takes? Go get started with an application at

Anthony Hahn: