Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
My son was a Michigan fan, but not a Michigan Football Fan until Saturday. On games days, he would (with prompting) wear Michigan clothes and would cheer when dad cheered, but was really more interested in Star Wars, Legos or "playing" than watching the game. After the game, he would remember who won but not the details. In short he was going through the motions and not really committed.
This always perplexed me. We raised him right. The only sports paraphenalia our kids are allowed to were are Michigan or the Detroit Red Wings. The kids all learned to boo Ohio State at an early age and the Victors was one of the first songs they learned.
Part of it is my fault. We have had season tickets since he was born, but until Saturday he had only been to 3 Michigan football games. This is due in part to his own soccer/hockey schedule and in part due to my wife's desire to go to the games as well.
Also, he was scarred by his very first game at the Big House. The 2006 Northwestern game. We had spoken for weeks that at football games we only leave our seats at halftime and that we stay for the whole game. He was ready and he was excited.
We dressed as dryly and warmly as we could but it was miserable (I don't know what the actual temparature was but it felt like it was 36 degrees and it rained nonstop). He started shivering before the end of the 1st quarter. He made it until halftime on the promise of getting out of the rain and hot chocolate. At the half, we crowded under the stadium and got our hot chocolates. One sip . . . two sips . . . No effect, I look closer and he is on the verge of tears. I tell him that "it is ok if he wants to leave." I carry him back to the car, wet, frozen and shaken. He perks up a little on the drive back and listens to the game but isn't really interested. Verdict: still a Michigan fan (phew).
Game 2 was the 2007 Notre Dame game. He enjoyed it, but it didn't seem to make an impact on him. Verdict: still a Michigan fan
Game 3 was the 2008 Utah game. He was hot and uncomfortable and again he enjoyed it, but it didn't seem to make an impact on him. Verdict: still a Michigan fan.
Game 4 was Saturday. He was excited about going to the game, but not to the same extent I was. While we carpooled with our friends who sit nearby, the adults talked about the game and my son read his Captain Underpants book.
We arrive at the game early to watch warm ups. My son's most important concern is what is he going to get. Nachos. Fine choice. Works well with my pre-grame routine of Mr. Spots. We watch the warm ups while he eats his Nachos.
First half. He is standing on his seat for every play, but midway through the 2nd starts leaning against me in his "I'm tired" sort of way. Halftime comes, he's so tired he doesn't even ask about going to the bathroom. Good thing, I doubt we could have made it there and back during halftime. He spends halftime, trying to take a nap on the bench.
Second half. He gets up and is watching the game, but still leaning against me. As the quarter progresses, he gets a second wind and starts watching more intently and cheering louder. By the end of the game, he is standing on the bench without leaning against me and screaming as loud as he can. At the end of the game, he wants to be picked up so he can see the team in the corner singing the victors. He joins in.
Sunday morning. He sees me watching the game on DVR. Climbs onto the couch and watches it with me. Providing commentary as we go. "I remember that play dad." "Watch what happens next dad." "When can I go again dad." Verdict: Michigan Football Fan.