Over the past week or two, this community has done a fair amount of discussing what it means to be a fan, how to distinguish between a “real” fan and a “fair-weather” one, and what value might be assigned to each group. In Brian's inaugural Athletic Director post, he mentioned “sustaining the enterprise” in his three-point assessment of what an AD's job should entail - - and got some comments that he hadn't given enough attention to the fanbase. In the “Michigan Dark Secrets” thread, there were so many Body Snatcher-like accusations of “not a real fan!!” that posters started giving a disclaimer before they divulged their confession: “This may make me sound like a bad fan, but....”
So, what exactly is a fan? Hans Christian Andersen gave us a rather silly test to determine the authenticity of a royal claim in “The Princess and the Pea”, involving a legume and multiple layers of bedding. In reality, such a test is as simple as determining one's parentage; it has nothing to do with sensitivity. When it comes to fandom, however, the situation is reversed. History, parentage, even educational background have little to do with it. This forum is chock-full of Michigan maniacs who earned (or are currently earning) degrees from other institutions, even - - dare I say it? - - Ohio State and MSU. Fandom is all about sensitivity, and this makes it a rather subjective assessment.
As I perused the posts in “Michigan Dark Secrets”, I was struck by how differently passionate people can react to a single pivotal event. Some of us were unable to watch to the end of a game, when our team was being thrashed on the field of play. Some were unable to turn away. Some stopped attending games in person but watched on TV, while a few in despair had to record the contests and decide after the fact whether to watch or not. As in politics (oh no!! verboten subject!), it seems that intelligent people of good intentions with a common desire can see the path to that goal taking opposite directions.
There was, however, a thread of continuity throughout, and that was this: every Michigan fan made his decisions (whether to buy a ticket, whether to stay for the end of a game) with the athletes, the school, and the program solidly in focus. And I think this rather clinical distinction is where we all come together on the great Venn diagram. The students who petitioned and rallied for change found their drive in a desire to make Michigan athletics proud, the same drive that compelled other students to stay the course. The fans who held their ground and stayed in their seats even as their team was crumbling before them did so because they longed to give support and strength to a program they love, but so did the fans who got up and left.
Apparently, fandom cannot be quantified in a specific action or characteristic. It exists in that nebulous world of sensitivity. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously once said of defining pornography, “I know it when I see it”. In the case of fandom, I know it when I feel it.
By contrast, the “fair-weather” or bandwagon fans are, well, not fans at all. They're spectators. I don't care much about major league baseball, but hey, I live near Kansas City. When the Royals made a run last year, I bought a shirt and wore it. Yay, team! Good job! Whatever. I'll never be jumping out of my seat on an August afternoon, knocking over my neighbor's beer, to reach for a foul ball. But I'm important to that franchise (as independent voters are to political parties), because they can earn my attention and therefore, my support.
A fan's attention and support doesn't have to be earned. Even a disenchanted fan loves his team and desperately wants to regain that thrill of pride. Wolverines who went all Tasmanian Devil after the 2006 Ohio State game felt themselves redeemed in 2011, while spectators at both contests watched with interest and said, “Huh. Good game, eh?”
Let's hope that the new athletic director, be it Jim Hackett or anyone else, finds a way to “sustain the enterprise” that both re-connects the fans and catches the interest of the spectators. HARBAUGH was a magnificent first step. Winning will be a good second.
Come one, come all! Our friend, Tremendous, has informed the public that a subscription to all VIP content on the Michigan 247sports website is now free through the end of the year (12/31/2013). Helluva deal if I say so myself.
Note: credit card information is needed; however the subsciption can be cancelled without charge before 1/1/2014.
*I think YouTube enrolled me in some UI beta or A/B testing. I'm not seeing the 'use old embed code' option under share.
be sure to watch in 1080p :]
Some early dynasty news for anyone interested. Can't wait to start out as the defensive coordinator at Michigan then work my way to Ball State, then San Diego State, then back to Michigan as the head coach ;)
"...EA and Tiburon have responded and given players the ability to create their own coaches from scratch. You can modify looks, set ages and even pick an alma mater. Save these changes, and you can share them with the world and every mode in your game.
That stuff might sound cosmetic, but it plays into the cool changes in Dynasty mode. When you start, you can choose to go be the head coach of whatever school you like, but the real challenge is taking on one of the new offensive or defensive coordinator slots and working your way up to running an entire team. Yes, this year you can be one of the assistant coaches and manage just one side of the ball for entire games. Do well, and the shot at a head coaching job might pop up. "
Over the last year, there have been various conversations about how the game of football has changed, and left Carr in the dust. Some of the posters have said, more or less in the words of Al Davis and the Raiders, "Just win, baby." Now, I myself want to see Michigan win, but is there some point at which it's not worth it? I'm thinking of that old movie, "Indecent Proposal," and the line, "Some things aren't for sale."
I'd like to see Brian put up a poll or two, finding out how important it is to mgoblog readers HOW Michigan wins. It should be obvious that every Michigan fan wants Michigan to win. But we each have a different point where it's not worth it.
What got me thinking down this track was the profile on Brandon Hawthorne. Brian wrote, " 'I'm a get you.' Those four words . . . represent the vast gulf in culture between the old guard and the new better than anything I've run across so far. . . The fact that Hawthorne and Smith fit in so well with the coaches recruiting them they would commit to Michigan sight unseen . . . indicates a shift in philosophy. It's not seismic . . . but it's real."
Now, I can live with the shift in philosophy. I'm fine with Hawthorne coming to Michigan. After all, iirc, Anthony Carter wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but Bo was sure happy to have him on campus. It's obvious Michigan had to get with the program, in the shift from Carr & crew to RR.
Having said that, I don't want criminals on campus. I don't want Michigan to be just another semi-pro team, just another ticket to the NFL, with no loyalty, no "Michigan Men," no academic or ethical standards. I think we all know there is a huge double standard in terms of the academic expectations of the general student body compared to Michigan athletes. But I'm wondering if there is some point where the disparity becomes so vast it creates problems. As an example, it is my perception that Miami football players are thugs, and are purely hired guns. I don't want that for Michigan.
Back to the original question: how much would you "pay" to have the mythical national championship? If corruption and cheating was well enough hidden, would you want it, because it meant we would win? Or would you rather see UofM contend for the occasional NC, say every five or ten years, but doing it the "right" way, the "Michigan" way? What are you willing to compromise, and what is important to do the right way?
Maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic. Maybe Michigan under Bo & Carr has been just as corrupt and slimy as any other successful team out there. Maybe, but my strong impression of Carr and Bo was that they cared a lot about the process, about how things were done. I have always felt that Carr was a man of integrity, who cared about a lot more than wins. Again, we had to move forward. Carr was part of the problem. It was time for him to move on. But it is critical to me that we have moved on the "right" way.
Brian has been (I think) hinting at this kind of thing with the oversigning at Alabama and North Carolina. The implication is that for Brian, even if oversigning slightly improved the level of recruits at UofM, it wouldn't be worth it to him. This is one of his "lines in the sand." What are your lines in the sand? What is it worth to you to win?
Growing up I was an airforce brat, living in multiple places until my dad finally got out and we moved to Ohio right outside of Columbus. I was in 4th grade it was the year after Michigan won its national championship. All the friends who i thought were cool liked michigan and being an outsider to the rivalry made my choice to root for the maize and blue. Even though I had a love of football i didnt get hardcore into til my later years. My first game i remember watching was John Cooper's last, and watching some of the next season when we were left with a young John Navarre. Oh the horror the 2001 and 2002 OSU Michigan game was, but then things were changed I watched all of the 2003 season every game from Chris Perry being the workhorse against MSU, to him leading us to a victory against OSU the first in 2 years, to the USC game which i could tell would be bad as soon as the ball hit Braylons ankle and the usc defender intercepted it. From 2003 season on I was hooked, I would wake up and watch game day, watch all the other games until michigan played and watch the ones after. Living in college my entire life and knowing i could not afford out of state tuition i was in a bind.
The bind was this should i choose not as good of an education to avoid going to Ohio State or should i go and just deal with it. I choose to go to Ohio State where as all my die hard OSU fans didnt. I was lucky in my first year in that my roommates were all friends and one of them happened to be a Michigan fan too. The year was memorable i got to see Guttierez get hurt the week before the first game and see Chad Henne grow, and Mike Hart just straight up dominate. Michigan ended up losing to OSU but still ended in the Rose Bowl facing Texas. Just the thought of the game and how if only the partially blocked field goal could have been fully blocked used to make me sad. As you all know the past 3 seasons with all the promise and losses to Ohio State and In all bowls except for the great dismantle of the SEC powerhouse Florida, were getting depressing. As a michigan fan i suffer through buckeye pride that is seen every where. I get shit talked consistently by my friends since they are the few who know i like michigan and pretty much get laughed at everytime michigan loses to osu. I have never been to an OSU game yet an OSU Michigan game, I regret not going to the #1 vs #2 game but hey i didnt need to be laughed while i sobbed during the late hit crable gave. This year however is different my friends/girlfriend convinced me to go to the 4 season ticket games. I probably wont enjoy the first 3 since i'll have to record michigan games and miss all the other great stuff, like flipping through the games or watching the highlights of games for the tenth time. But I will enjoy the last game when Michigan comes down, I'll be wearing all the Maize and Blue I own cheering for my team. So for the first Michigan game I'll ever go to I would love for it to be a victory, so for once i can rub in my college friends who never knew me when Michigan last one, that Michigan was the better team.