For at least one week, I live for homecoming.

The tradition, the atmosphere, the competition and the camaraderie maintained by the week's events – I love it all.

This year I had the honor of participating with the rest of my chapter in homecoming with Pi Kappa Phi. Not only were countless hours spent pomping – which may or may not be the most pointless use of time and money – but in the delirium of all-nighters we all formed this bond over working together to finish a 23-foot-long float, a soap box car, a banner, a cheerleading routine and a day of field games.

All of these events can seem tumultuous, but as homecoming chair last year, I can honestly say I still have a bond with the boys I coached in Smokey's Howl – as well as the boys this year – that I won't have with other people.

I often wonder why we do this whole homecoming thing. We spend thousands of dollars in order to just destroy the float and banner days later. Logically speaking, this is the most wasteful thing we could do.

I think about all the negative things I could say from this week of what seems to be the most intimidating list of tasks to accomplish for a busy college student, but then I look around me at all the awesome relationships that have formed this week. Suddenly it all seems worth the $5,000 and sleepless nights spent in the Pi Kappa Phi house.

That money is really the only downfall of homecoming. In my opinion, the costs are ridiculous because of the materials providers; why are little squares of tissue paper so expensive?

Still, I maintain that the experience is worth it.

There is an inexplicable bond that happens when you spend every waking moment with a specific group of people. The sheer amount of time, when combined with a united goal, generates a comfortable atmosphere whether you intended to or not.

Not only do you make best friends that you will keep forever, but it takes you back to a high school state of mind, a way of thinking that homecoming is the priority and everyone comes together for the greater good of tradition.

Not only does it take me back to high school but also it brings me back further to my childhood. I always think of the "Little Rascals" when we do the boxcar race, and although it really is a toss up as to who will win because we all have the same car, I enjoy the crowd around Volunteer Boulevard, watching wooden, hand-painted cars slowly roll their way through the finish line.

Although making floats and spending all that money seems a tad bit irrational, it comes with the tradition at the University of Tennessee in order to unite the community and alumni. Many people come back for the homecoming game in order to support their alma mater and watch the parade of floats and homecoming court nominees.

Not only do the alumni get to come participate in the events, but the school makes a profit from children walking in the parade and ticket sales for the game are usually sold at a higher number as well.

Although the football game is highly broadcasted throughout the week, I find homecoming is the only game that focuses on UT and the tradition it upholds. Whether it be the trivia questions in Anything Goes or simply rolling pieces of paper into tiny balls, it is a tradition that is longstanding at this university.

I believe that homecoming, if taken advantage of properly, can help the community to understand our university more efficiently and create bonds on campus to help make it feel like a smaller campus.

The more groups that come together to participate, the more closely-knit the student body becomes. We take away the cliques and restore the campus with a healthy environment of competition and cohesion.

Annie Blackwood is a junior in communications. She can be reached at ablackwo@utk.edu.