After watching a December basketball game paint Brooklyn Maize, I was inspired to pass along a thank you.
It’s well known that Michigan has the largest living alumni base of any university. There are many of us who are proud alums and who never have to “justify” our fanhood. Being a Michigan fan came easy to me. The son of two alums (and native Michiganders) I was almost pre-destined to head to Ann Arbor after I graduated high school, despite having grown up outside Chicago. I was lucky and worked hard and managed to go to Michigan and graduate in 2009. There are many who aren’t as lucky as I was. To those of you who are fans of Michigan despite not having a degree: Thank you. You may have been questioned, demeaned even for supporting College Football’s most winning program.
Some may call you “Walmart Wolverine” in a derogatory manner because you choose to support Michigan. But guess what – Michigan doesn’t succeed without the support of everyone: Students, Alumni, Faculty, and (as Fielding Yost called them) “Friends of the University”. It’s true. Michigan Stadium doesn’t get built without non-alumni fans.
From page 190 of Soderstrom’s The Big House* “No one: no student, no alumnus, and no friend of the university would be “giving" anything to the athletic department. Rather, the athletic department would sell a bond at a given amount of interest and pay back all the money over time… it had always been a Michigan athletic tradition that no attempt would be made to secure funds from the state, like the school in East Lansing had done for its new stadium.” Yost needed investors to build the Big House, and it turns out that the first bond letter had provided a “disappointing alumni response” (Page 318)
After bonds were extended to anyone who wished to buy them, not just alumni, “by early 1927, the whole initial issue, 2000 bonds, was sold.” Yost actually angered some alumni (and students, who felt that their seats were terrible even then) by making sure that there were new seating blocks in Michigan Stadium that were specifically NOT for alumni. Yost’s appeal was as such: “’This is a State University – not a privately endowed institution. Ownership of this institution is vested not in our students, faculty, and alumni – but in the people whose taxes make it possible’ Yost would never tire of making this point” (Page 194). I’ll take Yost's point one step further – It’s not just the taxes or the tuition, but ANY support of Michigan makes you a “real” fan. Maybe you can’t afford tuition and thus aren’t an alum. Maybe you don’t live in Michigan and don’t pay Michigan state taxes. Maybe you can’t afford season tickets (which are no longer $2.50 per game like they were in the 1920s), maybe all you do is own some apparel and visit MGoBlog – both of which provide support to Michigan no matter how small. The next time someone asks you if you went to Michigan, just remember that it was fans like you (not just alums!) who gave us the greatest football stadium in the world. And remember that there can be a little inferiority complex around East Lansing, after all they needed money from the state to build their stadium.
*As an aside if you need a stocking stuffer or just a great read on Michigan’s history, I couldn’t recommend Soderstrom’s book more. Click through the MGoLink to Amazon and order it!
If this is out of line then Mods pull it but I had a neat thing happen today out here in the middle of nowhere North Carolina. I was waiting in the back of a long line at Wal-mart when this voice whispers "Line 7" into my ear. I look and there's a Wal-mart cashier heading to line 7. So I slip over and she says "Can't have a fellow Wolverine waiting in line" and gets me out and on my way. She saw my Michigan sweats and pulled me to an empty checkout. She thought the game was at 12 and didn't want me to miss and was delighted to hear it was a 3:30 start so she could see it too. She told me that she grew up in South Bend and despises all things Fighting Irish. What a great start to the day! Go Blue!
Pat's inner Spartan was trolling last night on The Ticket. He was pulling out all the stops trying to antagonize irate Michigan fans into calling in so he could FoxNews them down.
I wrote a nice letter that I thought I'd share with the board. Enjoy or ignore.
- Pat --
I heard an interesting phrase for the first time while talking with a Cleveland fan:
That's their (his?) word for Ohioans who root for Detroit teams instead of the Indians, Cavs, Browns, and whatnot. It's derogatory. The funny thing is, he thought we use it too -- when I explained no Tiger fan makes any distinction over whether the guy next to him is from Ohio, Downriver, Oakland County or Timbuktu, he flat-out refused to believe me.
Nobody says "Windsor Wings Fan" either. Or "Yukon Yankee."
I graduated from Michigan. I am a big Michigan football fan. I associate with a lot of other big-time Michigan football partisans. And not a single person I know has ever cared whether the guy crammed in next to him in the Big House used to be a student here. If you root for the Wolverines, and you uphold the standards of good sportsmanship, then you are my brother, and I promise you, the Michigan fan-base feels this same way.
This one is entirely in your head, that is, your and every other Spartan fans'. Nobody else -- not even Ohio State fans -- use the phrase "Walmart Wolverines," at least nowhere near the extent that Spartan fans do.
I understand why: it's the same reason partisans of the losing political party (either side) call those who voted against them "sheeple" or "brainwashed." It's hard to admit someone who chose differently than you could have a valid reason.
Unless their parents are Spartans, kids in this state naturally become Michigan fans. The Wolverines are a bigger deal, and have been for a very long time, and kids respond to that (Desmond Howard did it for me when I was a kid). If it were the other way around, this would irritate the hell out of me.
I still would have enough respect for other people, though, to respect their choice of team to root for. Or at least, if some Michigan-born man chose the Buckeyes, I wouldn't treat him any different than any other Ohio State fan.
You went on to make what could be the dumbest statement I've ever heard on radio: (paraphrasing) "The Spartans are the team of the working man."
What is your basis for this? Because Michigan students had a 3.65 GPA in high school, and MSU students had a 3.61 GPA, this now means the latter is the populist choice? Again, you're taking Spartan rhetoric about Michigan arrogance and treating it like fact. These are both incredibly good universities, and getting better (the academic performance that got me into UofM in 1998 would have put me in the middle of State's freshman class today). Choosing one to be the "working man's" team is as silly as saying Cambridge is more "blue-collar" than Oxford.
I normally like your broadcasts, but last night's was just awful. You said during the show that your Sparty fandom is gone. Yeah, right. Last night's show was pure rivalry-fueled antagonism, which you thinly cloaked as "getting a rise out of Michigan fans." Word to the wise: pushing buttons to get a rise out of people is antagonism, not good journalism. You weren't teaching your listeners anything about your callers who "rose to the bait;" you were teaching us that you are the kind of sports fan who tries to bait the other team's fans. Another word for that: "trolling."
Thank you for your time.