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Checkerboards Everywhere in Knoxville

College football stadiums are known for being unique. Boise State has the blue field; Notre Dame has its diagonal end zone stripes; Tennessee has its orange and white checkerboard end zone. The checkerboard endzone has become synonymous with Neyland Stadium. It was listed No. 1 on Bleacher Report’s “Top 15 College Football Endzone Designs” back in 2010.

The checkerboard end zone has been around for almost 50 years. When former athletic director Doug Dickey took over as head football coach in 1964, he had the end zones painted orange and white, however, artificial turf was laid down and the end zones came up in 1968. Nonetheless, new turf was put in place in 1989, and the checkerboard end zones returned.

In 1994, Shields-Watkins Field had natural grass installed and the end zones got a fresh design. Instead of filling up the entire end zone, the checkerboard was confined to a smaller area with a five stripe of grass surrounding it. This new design cut down on confusion because the white squares matched up with part of the sidelines and goal lines.

The color orange for the end zone matches the power “T” that is seen at the 50-yard line. The squares are painted in two days: one color on Wednesday and the other on Thursday, so that the painter has a dry place to stand. With 240 total squares, the estimated cost of paint for each game is around $800.

The popularity of the end zones has increased in recent years, and a popular game day outfit are the Game Bibs, orange and white checkerboard overalls. Senior Ansley Goodheart has been wearing her game day checkerboard overalls for two seasons now. She likes to wear them because of “how comfy they are and because it is an easy game day outfit.” Ansley says that they are “full of school spirit” and that she “always gets lots of compliments on them. Senior Paige Bailey remarks that her “favorite part about the overalls is definitely the checkerboard pattern. I like to wear them because I get millions of compliments.   Last year when we went to Alabama, a lot of ‘Bama fans asked to take our pictures!”

I myself have my share of checkerboard apparel. I acquired two checkerboard collared shirts that I wear with pride on game day. I especially like standing out in the crowd because, just like my shirt, the tradition is very unique.

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