I don't know if you've noticed, I know it snuck up on me, but the Michigan football season is only nine days away. Nine days isn't that long, but it depends on how you look at it I suppose. Using simple math, Usain Bolt could run approximately 9,000 kilometers in that amount of time (neglecting fatigue). Maybe ten days is an eternity.
It seems there must be a single word in the English language that completely describes the feeling in my, and every other Michigan fan's gut leading up to this first gameday of the 2009 season, but maybe not. If it does exist, it could be found by way of triangulation from the words anticipation, desperation, and ecstasy. I'm sure Horatio Caine could run that through some sort of futuristic literary tracking system and come up with the term.
This season isn't like the others I've experienced though. While I've been a fan since the first time I watched my normally reserved father scream like a little girl after a touchdown in our basement, dancing as well as any pale skinny dutch man can, it has never meant as much to me as it does this time around. The Wolverine faithful have been forced into the undesirable position of being apologists for a team that most love to hate. There has been conflict. Fans argue with other fans. Boos still echo within the Big House, rattling restlessly among the bleachers. Michigan has been brought to a knee, and now it gazes at us with a proposal.
All that is asked of us is our undying commitment. We are not asked to follow blindly and unquestioningly, but we must be patient.
I haven't decided where I'll be next Saturday yet. If some ticket options pan out I may be sitting on a bleacher seat in the Big House, otherwise I may watch the game with family, or by myself. Wherever I am, I'll be nervous. My knees will bounce, and my teeth will serve as an interim nail-clipper. I'll be silent, mostly. Breaths will be short and seldom, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I will cheer in the same way I have always cheered: without words, except for the occasional "GO GO GO GO GO!" (I'm a Wolverine Shia LeBouf, obviously...) Beyond that, it's all going to be guttural noises signifying disgust and yelps of pleasure, sprinkled with a (hopefully more than) occasional joyful scream.
I wouldn't have it any other way. Each and every week during the season, we collectively remove our hearts and offer them to the team for protection. Occasionally they are dropped and trodden over, but we do not pull them back to ourselves even in the event of cardiac arrest because we know there will always be one play, one moment, one image that will rub the paddles together and scream "CLEAR!" bringing our pulse back in a single adrenaline fueled instant.
So stand by me Michigan fans, and bravely sing The Victors in the face of our adversaries. More importantly, stand by our team, as they attempt to bring back what we have all fallen in love with using only their bare hands and fatigued bodies. Join me as I pound the air with my fist, proclaiming on behalf of these players, the keepers of our dreams, "HAIL! HAIL! To Michigan, the Leaders and the Best."