The “White Out” is a nationally recognized game hosted by Penn State football each year at Beaver Stadium. It is an atmosphere that embodies tradition and creates challenges for opposing teams with a sea of white shirts that students and fans sport throughout the stadium.
The tradition of wearing white apparel during a Penn State football game began as a marketing campaign by Guido D’Elia in 2004. D’Elia was hired as Penn State’s director of branding and communications that year and was tasked with organizing the university’s fan experience.
Reporters covering Penn State told D’Elia that Penn State had one of the quietest home crowds in college football, despite Beaver Stadium seating more than 107,000 fans. D’Elia and his team developed the idea that all Penn State students should wear white during one home football game.
With a marketing push on the campus, Penn State’s first “White Out” game took place on October 9, 2004, against Purdue. Despite a 20-13 loss, many students wore white and the event was considered a success.
Penn State defeated rival Ohio State 17-10 in the 2005 “White Out” game. The game was nationally televised, and at halftime ESPN sportscaster Kirk Herbstreit declared the “White Out” fans “the best student section in the country.” Later that month, Sports Illustrated called Penn State home football games “The Greatest Show in College Sports.”
In 2007, the “White Out” was made into a stadium-wide event, and the Nittany Lions comfortably beat Notre Dame 31-10 before a crowd of 110,000. Penn State’s fans “learned their impact” during the game, D’Elia said. “They really made a difference.”
Penn State has a 10-8 record in “White Out” games. The 2018 “White Out” game against Ohio State holds the Beaver Stadium attendance record of 110,899 spectators.
Head Coach James Franklin has said the players “get caught up the energy and enthusiasm” of the “White Out” games. The noise also creates communications challenges for the opposing teams because the fans are so loud.
“White Out” merchandise has become popular with football fans. The Penn State Creamery has created a “White Out” ice cream.
“Penn State Football Weekend Selected ‘Greatest Show in College Sports’ by Sports Illustrated on Campus.” Penn State Athletics, October 27, 2005. (Accessed April 16, 2022).
“The Origin of Penn State’s ‘White Out.’” ESPN n.d. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyNCdsTBlU0&ab_channel=ESPNCollegeFootball (Accessed April 16, 2022)
First Published: April 25, 2023
Last Modified: April 30, 2023