Nice to read this one versus all of the posts from therapy seekers desperate to be talked off the ledges of their local bridges.
All In For Michigan!
Once upon a time I was child who was introduced to Michigan football by my father, who went to U of M. I liked the game and I thought Michigan's colors were cool and my dad liked them. That is where it started. Somewhere along the way, though, I developed a mysterious sort of emotional connection to the Maize and Blue, subject to their every up and their every down. I don't think there was ever a moment when I thought, "I will be obsessive about Michigan football from now on." After years of watching the Wolverines play, though, a love developed for this team. They may not always be the best, or the most exciting to watch, but it really isn't about that, is it? I care about Michigan's players, about their coaches, about their national perception. Cheering for a sports team is about so much more than watching a team that wins or is exciting. It is about loyalty and familiarity and tradition.
I try explaining this to my friends who are casual fans. To them watching a sport is about getting something out of it, whether that is entertainment or a sense of superiority for their school or whatever. To the Michigan Man, though, watching Michigan football is more like going to watch your little brother play. You want to see them do well, to carry themselves well, to be the best. You don't watch your brother's team play because they are the best but because his team is the one that you care the most about.
I am a senior at U of M this year. Saturday will be my last Michigan football game as a student (unless we make a bowl). After this year I will be graduating and getting a job (I hope) and getting married. I will always love the Wolverines but that some of the obsession, of the close connection, will fade with time as I am away from the campus and friends and classes. Even though I will probably never miss a game on tv, there is still a sense of moving on after this year.
This brings me back to this year, to Saturday. The most hallowed and honored of all Michigan traditions, the yearly game with Ohio State. I too am disappointed with our play over the last couple of years. I too want to see Michigan always win and never lose. Those things I can't control, but I can control the way I go out.
My plan is to go to the game and have fun, to appreciate the years of cheering for Michigan football. I will sing the victors every time the band plays it, I will go crazy every time we score, I will stay upbeat every time they score, and I will love being a Michigan fan.
I ask that you, too, will join me in appreciating our Wolverines. I am not here to debate about Rich Rod, since cheering for the Wolverines is not about cheering for one individual but for a University. Don't boo if we do poorly, cheer even if we are down by 30. Don't let the Buckeyes atrocious fight song be heard. Have fun with your friends. Stay upbeat about next year. This is the way I want to remember my time as a student fan of Michigan.
Nice to read this one versus all of the posts from therapy seekers desperate to be talked off the ledges of their local bridges.
All In For Michigan!
Nice post. Don't assume your obsession will fade, though. I think my obsession actually grew after graduating (though stumbling upon Mgoblog had a lot to do with that).
Good luck w/ never missing a game once the wife and kids show up down the road though...
If you pick your wife well, she'll watch the games with you. Mine gets almost as much into the games as I do.
My wife and I are both alums w/ season tix. That doesn't mean kids' games, and poorly scheduled weddings by others don't conflict sometimes though...
There have been some fun threads on wedding dodged on the board here. :)
and the OP sounds awfully young to get married. Go live a little life first...
You brought up funny (and good) memories for me. I'm 48 and my husband is 50 and all 4 of our parents are Michigan grads. So, we've built up a history of many years of wedding receptions we ducked out of (to the bar, to a house next door, etc.) because we HAD to watch the Michigan game. We really got sh*t for it sometimes.
Don't listen to anyone that says getting married will hamper your ability to watch Michigan on Saturday, just insert the if Michigan is on TV I am not doing anything but watching them play. If she loves you she will understand.
I may not know exactly what makes or defines a Michigan Man, but I can say with great certainty that you are one.
Kudos to you my Maize and Blue friend and enjoy your last home game as a student!
I was feeling the same thing you were my senior year (last year). But, it wasn't meant to be, and I felt betrayed, like I deserved better. But there are two things that I think of about my "last game as a student":
1) No matter how hard a loss is for us, the fans, the loss is felt tenfold (if not more) by the players themselves, especially the seniors. For us, we will always be fans, and we will always be there for the highest of ups down the road, but for the players, they ar only players for 3-4 years, and after that, it's over. Sure, they'll always be Michiganmen, but becoming a fan after playing is a lot harder when you know your time came and went and you can't get it back.
2) I always read this, and it makes everything alright:
"...the Spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michiganmen to spread the gospel of their university to the world’s distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours." -Fielding H. Yost
Remember, Michigan doesn't recruit players (and students); they recruit Michigan, and that is why everything will be ok, because you've formed a bond with the University, and she will never abandon you.
I'll be in the stands with you on Saturday, and my face will be painted (the first time since my freshman year), and I will cheer until I lose my voice, and then I'll cheer and yell some more. I'll leave you with one more thought. Whenever I get down, my dad always asks me, "Well, would you rather root for Michigan State? Would you rather be a Buckeye?", and I always look him dead in the eyes and say "No", and I'm sure you'll all agree with me.
...you need to man up. Full body paint from the waist up. That's how I'm rollin'.
The only thing I can add is: as the OP states, Michigan football is not about just this player, or just this coach, similarily its not about just this season. I used to read about M football between '51 and '67, and wonder what it was like to be a fan in tough times. So now I have a better idea, and while I'm not happy about it, I do have a much greater appreciation for what Bo, Mo and Lloyd and about 1200 players accomplished over 40 years. I spend these sometimes painful hours on Saturdays looking for the telltale signs of the resurgence; its only a matter of time.
Let's Go Blue!
As Michigan men, watching the games are a part of our lives- this year and for many years to come.
Your line "cheering for the Wolverines is not about cheering for one individual but for a University" is fantastic.
We are Michigan, we are the leaders and best.
Great post. I absolutely agree. I think a lot of people feel so strongly about Michigan, that they don't handle the reaction well when they don't win. But the bottom line for most of us is, we support Michigan.
You are the TRUE Meaning of a MICHIGAN Man! And a MICHIGAN FAN!
ON Saturday, for one last time this season, our boys will dig deep and try to push the SUN back into the SKY and give us one more VICTORY....... for the SENIORS..... for the TEAM....for the FANS..........and for all MICHIGAN MEN..... past, present and future! GO BLUE!
For the record, I was a passionate Michigan fan as a kid. My grandpa saw to that. I cried and wouldn't talk to anyone for hours after Kordell Stewart. I was at the Biakabutuka game as a young teenager, and my dad almost got into a fight with some OSU fans*. Went to all the home games while I was a student at Michigan. I can honestly say that I am more informed and excited about Michigan football now than I ever have been, for better and worse. The experience changes when you leave campus, no doubt, but it doesn't become qualitatively different. Still makes me feel like a kid.
*Not to be confused with "almost fought a old guy for telling us to sit down," which is quite a different phenomenon: http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/almost-fought-old-guy-telling-us-sit-down
My dad graduated from law school at Michigan. My son graduated in his undergrad degree and masters. I have been attending games since Rick Leach started as a freshman.
Some of my best experiences have been the sun-drenched games. Tailgating. The comrades-in-arms. Smiles upon passing fellow fans on I-94 enroute. The fine cuisine prior to the game. Celebrating after a touchdown.
These have been some of the best experiences in my life. I will never forget them. I love Michigan fans and the tradition that has occurred for so many years.
We will have fight in us on Saturday. It will be intense. I hope we prevail but if not....I will always love these guys.
I'm going to spend the next several hours watching Wolverine Historian videos of our victories over the Buckeyes. Here's a primer to get ready!!
I love it! I hope everyone who is lucky enough to attend the game supports the team like you will. I like the way you are stopping to smell the roses so to speak.
For a plethora of reasons, one of my favorite moments at the home games is when the team comes on the field and touches the banner. The banner says it all. Let our team know that we support them.
Any fan can cheer when their team is winning but I think we do have the opportunity to show that there 'truly is a Michigan difference'. When we kick OSU's butt, let's be good sports about it! Before commencing into orgiastic fits of joy and rapture, wish them well on their drive back to Columbus! : P
Now I know what you are thinking...what if we don't win? Yeah, it's a longshot, but it could happen. (gasp!)
My thinking is that even if we do lose...let our kids know we appreciate them. Send the seniors out into the world with knowledge that we appreciate them, even if they didn't have the success on the field that we grew accustomed to having. Let the young guys know we believe in their potential. Show the recruits how passionate you are about the team and give them a big house welcome and a reason to say,"GO Blue!"
This team has struggled and the RR era is off to a rougher start than we imagined or wanted to see but this is our Michigan Wolverine Football Team! Support the team! I'm all in and glad to see that ya'll are too!
The experience will change, but the bond remains and I can honestly say it grows even stronger after the student days.
...that you get to have a great, winning memory going out.
My years in the student section were good - almost too good in fact. Going 12-0 with a National Championship my freshman year kind of spoiled me...
I have to constantly remind myself that I can't expect to see an undefeated team every year. If I were to turn away from this team right now, I'd be turning away from everything that I learned during the best five years of my life.
Glad to see that you have learned that lesson too.
I remember (and my wife does too) that someone got laid out and was laying on the grass. It got quiet as it always does as the trainers are working on him (Todd Plate I think) and this jerk-off OSU fan gets up and starts yelling shit in the middle of the student section.
Of course people start throwing garbage at the guy, and from like 20 rows up, a Domino's pizza box come down like a boomerang and hits the guy in the head. The whole student section erupted!
Also remember freezing my ass off at Earle Bruce's last game, a 23-20 loss. And watching Kolesar catch the winning TD to silence the 'Shoe. We had our shit zipped up tight so nobody would see we were from Michigan. Go Blue!
Vada Murray was the injured player in 1989. That is the quietest I have heard that stadium during an OSU game.
My favorite memory is from 1985. 4th quarter. OSU had just scored to make the score 20-17 Michigan with a lot of time left (6 minutes?). If my memory is correct they scored on a 4th and forever play. Kind of deflated the staduim a little. Guys sitting around me were sure Bo would run it three times and punt. First down was a run. Second and seven was a perfect 77 yard TD pass from Harbaugh to Kolesar. Kolesar had single coverage against William White (remember him Lions fans?) and ran straight at us in the north end zone. What a play!
Well said, buddy.
I'm missing My Michigan and My Team right now, too!
Year 1996. I am an OSU grad but was born and raised a Wolverine fan my entire life. 1992 freshman year they tied. Worst day ever. There has to be a winner for bragging rights. 1994 we got smoked. But 1996, a beautiful pass to Tai Streets for a 13-9 win. I wore my Michigan gear proudly around campus for weeks. Was the best Senior Year present I could have ever had. I hope you get the same thrill!
Ended up graduating in the 'shoe wearing a Michigan shirt under my gown. Pissed off all my classmates, but you couldn't rub the smile off my face. Great memories!
This is a great post. While all of our stories are a little different we can all relate to exactly what you are saying.
I have to say, though, I have a different perspective on fanhood.
I root for the team, not for the university. I root for the team because I admire them and all the noble attributes they possess: courage, teamwork, determination, and the drive to achieve perfection (and some others I've surely left out).
And there are some football programs that have a tradition of instilling these qualities in players. They are honorable and dignified programs that value winning. However, the reason that winning is satisfying is because it is a sign that you possess the noble attributes.
A team can possess all those positive attributes but not always win. I will still root for such a team. Michigan is one of them.
This is still a great and honorable team. That's not where I'm going with all this. But if somehow the program became corrupted, if all our great traditions were sold to the highest bidder, if the players themselves just stopped trying. Well, then I might no longer be a fan.
In other words, I believe in the ideals of the team, and perhaps by extension, the ideals of the institution that supports the team, but I cannot maintain some blind allegiance to the institution.
Luckily, our current team has the same heart as all those winning teams of years past. I will cheer with you, comrade. Go Blue.
There is an article in mlive.com that states that our friends in EL are going for three seasons in a row of seven or more victories: FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 1950'S! Meanwhile, the last time UM won LESS than seven games three years in a row was 1965-1967.
I know this is a UM/OSU thread, but it's nice to remember how lucky we are to be UM fans, even though it has been a couple of rough years.
with the whole never missing a game on TV thing. I said the same thing 4 years ago too. Adulthood sucks. Enjoy your time at UofM while you can. Go Blue.
was able to either make it to AA or settle in on TV, until the kids were old enough to have to do stuff; Soccer, Football, Skating, Swimming, etc.
Thank Bo for the DVR. Other than having to be a tool who runs around saying "don't tell me, don't tell me," I now get to see every play again. No more speeding tickets rushing home for kickoff. Every play? That's probably why I signed up here.
Priorities man, priorities!!! LOL
Here's to hoping your last game as an M student is a victory. My last home game as a student was in 1992 and it was a 22-22 tie to Illinois (back when college games could still end in ties). On the positive side, Michigan finished the season "undefeated" at 9-0-3.
That was my last home game as a student too.
And hey, remember, an undefeated season was a really big thing back then. Had it over all the other senior classes...till '97. :-)
(and I'm on the "other side of the fence.) You've got it right. However, it does NOT have to wane over time. I was a student at that disastrous (for me) '69 game. This past weekend, we tailgated with, among others, 7 of us that went to school together. Michigan football will live on, and can increase your fervor with the passage of time. Don't let it because distant to you - it certainly doesn't need to.
i thought the post was great, i have no personal connection with the university, but i grew up watching them (maybe because they were the only good football in town). People dont understand how i can be such a michigan fan and not be a student or had anyone go there. My family has had season tickets for over 30 years and i still remember my first game like it was yesterday, the first time i saw the band march onto the field and played the victors gave me goosebumps and still does to this day. i listen to so called michigan fans all the time tell me how they hate rich rod and cant wait until he is gone, be patient he will make us forget all the troubles this saturday
Maybe the karma of our combined fandom will crush the Bucktard juggernaut. Regardless of what happens, I want to see Boren steam rolled and Pryor broken in half by Graham. The worst part of losing to that team is the justification those back stabbers would get. Please win....
I am from the west coast and never lived in Michigan until last year. All my life I have liked Michigan (and admittedly ND until the last few years) but never thought I could be so into a sporting event until I began going to Michigan games. There is certainly something intangible that not all people understand. When Michigan wins its like a drug and i crave that feeling, when we lose i have withdrawals. OSU is clearly the better team this year, more talent, more experience, etc., etc., but none of that matters in a rivalry game - GO BLUE!