The author is some Sparty who starts out by complaining about "Walmart Wolverines," and is then pleasantly surprised by the gentility and good-heartedness of the Maize Ragers with respect towards his nephew. "These were not Walmart Wolverines," he says. The overall story and message is good, but is he actually implying if they hadn't been so nice and respectful, these Michigan students with basketball season tickets would have been, in his mind, "Walmart Wolverines?" Just goes to show how ridiculous and arbitrary that label is. The Sparties throw it around without actually ever even thinking about it...
Maize Rage makes a kid's day in East Lansing
I applaud his effort, but it certainly seems like the author is implying that is the case.
It's the dumbest term ever. MSU is just jealous that for the most part only alums are fans of their school, while Michigan (and by extension schools like: TSIO, Bama, USC, Texas, OU, LSU, etc.) have fans just about everywhere, some of whom, *gasp*, might not have attended the school in question
There you go, just calling them Sparty without even thinking about it! I'll try my best to define sparty now. Sparty is difficult to define, but I know when I see one. They have a 'bro' mentality with a napolean-esque complex, feeling the need to build themselves up by any means necessary. I remember high school, when kids started getting accepted to college, and there'd be the "spartan fan" who got into michigan, and ended up in ann arbor the next year. They'd get razzed by their friends, "Why would you want to go to that liberal piece of shit school?! Come Sparty in East Lansing!" Sparty has every affiliation with that school, because who else would want to be a fan of Michigan State? Doesn't matter what the argument is, they'll throw something out to make sure you know MSU reigns supreme. "Yeah! That's right, little sister! 4 years in a row whoooooo!!!!" (Takes sip from natty light) "We historically own your ass!!". Few sips later, "I hate people saying we couldn't have beat Ohio State last year, did you see us reck them this year in the shoe?! Whooooo!!!!!" (Continued sip from natty light). Like I said, Sparty is difficult to define, but I know one when I see one.
What a fantastic article, with no spelling errors. (Just kidding, I found at least one)
Really though, I remember Rich Rod's first year, I was a student walking to a party with my roommate and our girlfriends, on the sidewalk the night before the U of M MSU game. When all of the sudden, a group of 2 chicks and 5 bros, all rocking spartan gear, start yelling go green, go white, across the street. Of course, being any reasonable michigan student on a friday night, you'll yell back, Go blue! The spartan bros did not appreciate that, and took it upon themselves to cross the street, get in my face, and push me, repeating the words, Go Green!
That has been, and I think will always be my fondest memories of sparty. Sure, there are some good spartan fans. Some of my best friends went to MSU. But, every experience I've ever had with sparty in public has been less than desireable.
I know, cool story, bro.
one happy kid; look at the smile on his face. Nice job, Maize rage. Thanks, OP.
article from what sounds like a decent sparty fan. I agree with the first post, and would add that my experience with sparty fans has been that there are far worse examples of poor behavior from that fan base than with UM's fanbase. Yeah, buckeye fans are the worst hosts, but sparty has their fair share of losers as well.
But, um, affiliated or not, every time I've been to a Michigan game in EL, someone has tried to fight me. Does that mean everyone in Spartyland is a "Walmart Spartan" or whatever?
I would agree. I call them K-Spartans.
When I was at Munn for a game in 2010, I had quite the heavyset MSU chick in front of me, unprovoked, challenge me to a fight after we won. My brother and father were with me as well, so they can vouch for this.
I'm going to Munn again this Friday; always prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
is Save-A-Lot Spartan. This term was coined by Walmart Wolverines.
Hell it's not just in EL, after 2010 some of them tried to start fights down in AA. Why do you think Dave Brandon won't have a night game for MSU?
2.4MB image...yeah, that is appropriate.
Won't someone please think of the bandwidth!?
The internet dark ages are over, man.
That term 'Walmart Wolverine' is something I had never heard before, but I'm pretty sure the whole reason one would feel uncomfortable in defining it is that it's inherently classist in its nature and would probably make you're average Sparty fan uncomfortable acknowledging the ugliness of it.
It's also totally bizarre. In a state where you have two major public schools that Taxpayers are paying into, every citizen of Michigan, even if they don't attend, has a stake in the University, and can cheer as they please.
However, if we're talking about a private school (i.e., Duke), and you're a fan of that school, with no affiliation to that school, you're just a front running douche.
What I meant to say is that Duke fans are douchebags.
Honestly, I don't think your rule for fandom is any better than the walmart wolverine rule. Now instead of requiring people to attend the university they cheer for, they just have to pay taxes to support it? That seems equally arbitrary and pointless. What if I buy a lot of Duke apparel, and as a result the university gets royalty proceeds, is that really much different? Bandwagon fans are annoying and I dislike them as much as anyone, but fan police are no better. People can cheer for whoever they want.
Here in DC, there are TONS of Cowboys fans. TONS of them. None of them have any affiliation with Dallas or Texas. They grew up in the late 80s/early 90s and LOOOOVE a winner. These people are also Steeler/Laker/Red Wing fans as well.
They deserve mocking.
If they stick with the cowboys/lakers/ etc. through good times and bad, then I have no problem with them being fans. According to your rule --which i'm reading as, "you must have a formal affiliation with the state a team is from in order to cheer for them, otherwise you deserve to be mocked"-- who are sports fans from Delaware supposed to cheer for? Or peope from Montana, or any other state with no major college or pro sports team? Moreover, what good does it really do to prove to someone that they're not a real fan? Does that make the team they like any worse, or the team you like any better?
Winners make fans. Particularly in young kids. It's a lot more fun when you don't understand the intricacies of a sport to cheer for a team that wins rather than a team that loses. So I can never fault a person for cheering for a good team (even more so if they were good when they were young, before they had an major ties to another program or team).
The biggest difference between a fairweather fan and a true fan is if they still are a fan when things get rough. If the Cowboys fans are still cheering for their team when they are 6-8 and struggling (like the were last year), then they definitely deserve to be considered good fans—especially when compared to the fans who live in Dallas who stop cheering for the Cowboys when they start to lose.
I cheer for Michigan because my brother in law got me hooked on their tradition a few years ago. I never really watched college football when I was younger, so I had no affiliation to any program. I love Ann Arbor and simply enjoy watching football games at The Big House. I never attended classes at U-M, I live in Indiana and don't pay taxes to the state of Michigan, I have only ever purchased a few things from M-Den, and none of my immediate family has graduated from there. My affiliation with Michigan is not based on anything you can see or hold, nor is it based on anything really that rational. I just like them. Am I a Wal Mart Wolverine? I don't think so. I'm just a fan of a university in Michigan and I don't need any more reason than that. If people want to say something bad about me because I don't fit some predetermined criteria for being a fan, then I am glad that they would so willingly point themselves out to me. Because I would rather not associate with those closed minded people anyways.
Kids in Delaware, as they are close to Philadelphia or Baltimore, probably pick one of those two teams. My buddy from Wilmington is a huge Phillies/Flyers/Eagles fan. A lot of people in the Mountain West (Montana/Idaho/Wyoming) are big Denver sports fans. A lot of Bronco fans in Wyoming, for example.
That is TOTALLY different than picking a team because they're winners.
Yes, to answer your question, I think you should support your local teams. Doesn't need to be from the same state, but definitely the local team wherever possible.
I call BS about supporting local teams. I live near Notre Dame and have never once cheered for them. I don't support them either. Never have, never will.
As far as other sports - I'm the guy who picked his teams. I didn't grow up a fan of sports, I was a casual observer. I didn't have a Dad who made me watch certain teams, nor did I have an obsession to watch others like my brothers. I just sort of grew into sports.
I like the Celtics because of Larry Bird. He was fun to watch play when I was a kid and my fondest memories of the NBA are watching him play. I still watch them even though Larry Bird is gone.
I like the White Sox because Frank Thomas was my first sports hero. He was so against steroids in a world filled with steroid heads. He was a great role model and the reason I like the South Siders to this day.
My wife grew up in Michigan and introduced me to the Red Wings and hockey. That team is just bad ass. They are so easy to cheer for. Do I go around quoting stuff like how many championships they have and how many great players they have had over the years? Nope. They are just so damn fun to watch.
I cheer for the Colts. Peyton Manning was the draw here. Will they inevitably suck when he's gone? Yup. Will I still root for them like I did this year? Yup.
Let me assure you that the average Spartan fan is not only aware of the term, but uses it liberally and assumes every Michigan fan is a Walmart Wolverine until proven otherwise. Hence this article.
Yes, much irony in the way Sparty fans act toward Michigan fans while similarly believing they themselves are the paragons of right and virtue etc. etc.
So this guys definition of a "Walmart Wolverine" boils down to two things:
1. Fans who didn't attend the University of Michigan
2. Boorish and obnoxious in their behavior
MSU has these fans too, we call them "Spartans".
I hope the author is reading this thread. He has a few decent points, but I still think the entire "Walmart Wolverine" concept was spawned mostly by jealousy. It makes me shudder to even think about this, but if I was a Sparty fan, I would be extremely jealous that, while a lot of people who didn't go to Michigan cheer for Michigan, the only reason people cheer for "my" school is because they went there or grew up in Ingham County.
Consequently, the only way to rationalize it would be to belittle those fans who cheer for Michigan by choice, which isexactly what Sparty fans do. "Walmart Wolverine" is a convenient label, but it could have been anything.
I have observed two WW definitions, depending on the Sparty fan. This one seems to define rabid Michigan fans who didn't attend the school as WW's, while some seem to define WW as someone who didn't go there, and only follows Michigan as a bandwagon fan for something to do while enjoying wine and cheese.
I actually agree with those who call bandwagon jumpers WW's, because they are right about that segment of the fanbase. There are plenty of "fans" who only follow "their" teams when they are winning.
Ultimately, though, there is one main difference between the fanbases. Michigan State fans, like Ohio fans, can attend games in Ann Arbor and know that nobody is going to throw food and beverages at them, make them take part in a 10-on-2 "fight," or vandalize their cars. Neither of the other fanbases can make that guarantee in EL or Columbus.
Stay classy, Sparty and Brutus.
You forgot the second main difference: Michigan State fans can welcome Michigan fans to East Lansing secure in the knowledge that East Lansing won't be vandalized, which can't be said the other way around. I suppose the exception is painting the Sparty statue, but frankly there's quite a difference between that and painting STAEE on someone's car.
It always cracks me up when Spartan fans paint the rock on Hill/Washtenaw (or used to, anyway). I was always, like, "big deal..fucking thing gets repainted weekly." In turn, they'd brag about guarding the Spartan statue in EL.
Did anyone from AA ever actually make the trip to EL to deface the statue? I never heard anyone ever attempt it. And frankly, I couldn't have cared less..
Do it at night when it's hard to see what color it's being painted. Somebody would drive by and see a bunch of college kids painting the rock. That's not something to stop and investigate. Kids DO repaint the rock.
I have never, ever, EVER understood why someone sneers at a fan who didn't attend the institution they are cheering for. Sure, I get sneering at fans who are jackasses. But that isn't necessarily correlated with alumni status.
That long-standing gripe aside, this is a cute story.
Oh, there's this, too: I'm a little puzzled over his defensiveness about bringing kids to sporting events.
But I have seen this a lot...it is not an attack on athletics but an attack on the SCHOOL by someone who did not attend the institution. That particular attack is out of line. If it is sports related? Totally OK in my book.
First, thank you for reading. Second, if you would like to blog about sports, give us a try. We are always looking for more posts and different takes.
Finnaly, I wanted to clear something up. Most of the "Walmart Wolverine" portions of the article are tounge and cheek. The term is out there (and fairly common) so I tried to define what it means to people who use it frequently. I by no means think all (or even most) Michigan fans fall into that category. Rather, I simply wanted to commend the Maize Rage kids. They could have simply walked to their car, but that took a minute and made a kids day. Would I have thought they were "Walmart Wolverines" if they did not do that? No.
The purpose of this was to remind fans (of all schools) that they can support their schools, have fun with the rivalries and not be a holes about it.
That is one of the fun things. Much like the phrase "I could care less".
Don't worry too much about these little comments. Your article was very good & you're clearly a good guy. I think most of us would have given you like a 95 out of 100, but here on the internet we like to break down that last 5% in great depth. And those who do the most talking are generally the ones most passionate about that 5%. And that 5% is constituted entirely by the simple fact that the "Walmart Wolverine" terms even exists, which you (very likely) didn't even invent. Point is, there are many more of us who were quite pleased with the article & chose to simply smile & move on. We are just undetectable.
I by no means think all (or even most) Michigan fans fall into that category.
WADR, the article implies differently. Perhaps it's the pictures. A guy in a Michigan jacket on a scooter? Why, he must be a Walmart jackass.
Sometimes you have to lay out the stereotype before you can knock it down. Oh, well, I tried.
Fair enough. In the end it's a pretty good story. Very similar to the one we had about a State fan and his kid meeting John Beilein.
As a member of that group, you are very welcome.
I am getting hammered in here. I used the WM term in a manner so that I could try and knock down the stereo type. It is apparently a sensitive issue in here. Oh well.
Thanks again though. You guys were great. I think he is still smiling.
I used the WM term in a manner so that I could try and knock down the stereo type. It is apparently a sensitive issue in here. Oh well.
The bottom line is that the "Walmart Wolverine" meme is an attempt by Spartan haters to try and tarnish the prestige of the U of M brand. It's tired, lame, and frankly smacks of insecurity. It's just as lame as dismissing Michigan State as "Moo-U". While I believe you when you say you were applying the stereotype in a very specific manner, you could have just as easily told your story by referring to the boorish visiting fans as "bandwagon Michigan fans" or "shirttail Michigan fans" and the story would have been just as effective. If you're going to pick up on an internet meme that was originally borne out of a malicious attempt to discredit another team's fanbase, you have to expect some blowback.
Michigan fans are never going to like the phrase "Walmart Wolverine" regardless of what its true definition is. I go to U of M, and even I have been called one. Majority of U of M fans are good people, so even if the Walmart label only applies to a very small portion of the fanbase, it is offensive when used on the fan base as a whole.
While I wish the Walmart phrase would go away entirely, I'm glad you used your article to show that U of M fans are good people.
Your piece was just fine in that regard and very nice overall. The discussion is coming from the fact that certain State fans seem to believe that every Michigan fan is a "WW" (see RCMB, every third thread). I think those annoyances are just getting conveyed here since it's the first time I recall seeing a discussion of the term at MGoBlog.
The walmart wolverine meme is stupid. Every single team ever has some section of fans who just cheer for said team because they like that team *gasp!*. I know just as many people who went to GVSU, CMU, community college, etc that still cheer for MSU as I do that cheer for Michigan.
Sorry more people like our team than your team Sparty, you just gotta sell those 3ish national titles from the 50's more and you'll be right in the thick of things
Is my 10 year old a Walmart Wolverine? He's not an alumnus, even though his dad and his grandfather are. I'll do my best to make sure he attends Michigan. Is he Walmart until he gets there? What if he doesn't? I mean, he could end up going to UNC instead. Then can he not be a Michigan fan anymore? I have four nephews who will not have the grades to get into Michigan but they are die hard fans and go to every home game. My ex-wife, is a sparty grad, but wears the Maize and Blue and has adopted the Wolverines as her team. She just always liked them better (helmets).
Its a completely absurd distinction. Following sports is a tribal identity. Sparty is just mad its tribe isn't as appealing. Sorry Sparty.
Way to represent, Ragers! Classiness is contagious.
FWIW, I read the full blogger report. There is truth to the type of fan described as a WW in the blog entry, but the hyprocrisy is blinding (not just @ MSU, but all fandom spheres). Some fans who have no affiliation with a university (except as a taxpayer for public schools, but even that link has become tenuous with reduced state funding to UM..another topic for another day) are douchebags and embarrassing blowhards. Some fans who are affiliated with the university are douchebags and embarrassing blowhards. This is a large grey/gray area.
I live in Badger land, work at the UW-Madison, and am also a UW-Madison alum (not a fan, though). Badger fans spilling out of the student section after a game (UW won) attempted to rip off my UM shirt as I walked alone to meet a friend around the stadium after the 2007 game (Mallett to Manningham 97-yd TD pass game). They were douchebags and affiliated with the university (and probably very drunk). I have many Badger fan friends who are upstanding citizens - some not affiliated with the university (ShopKo Badgers?) - and we have a great time watching games together. My Badger friends have reported to me that they were treated atrociously by UM fans in Ann Arbor during the '90's (how many? I don't know...hopefully a small minority), so their perspective of UM fandom is definitely skewed to the douchebaggery level. The same friend also traveled to Columbus, OH for a Badger-OSU game and reportedly was treated better in Columbus. As a proud UM alum, I'm embarrassed by the actions of those fans. I guess a certain % of UM fans revert to the lowest common denominator, and we should call them out as such whenever possible. Are the %'s of douchebags larger withiin certain fanbases? Most likely. I would like to think that the UM fanbase is on the low end of the spectrum.
Back to the Maize Rage. Thanks for setting a shining example of being good sports in hostile territory.
relocator to the Madison area (Fitchburg) I too was taken aback by how many Badger fans said they were mistreated by Michigan fans in Ann Arbor. It certainly surprised me.
The main point of the story with the kids was nice and I like the picture. But I had to skip the entire first half of the feature. It's all old stuff and that's been drilled in our heads a million times. I know the angle the guy was going for but it's just amazing how it is literally impossible for an MSU fan to make reference to Michigan fans without bringing up the Walmart Wolverine nickname.
Sometimes I want to ask Florida fans if FSU fans take the non-alum factor to the insane level that Spartan fans do and never...let...it...die. Or any other instate rivalry in this country for that matter.
One of these years, MSU fans are also going to have to acknowledge that not all those folks at Breslin or Spartan Stadium are alums either. But if they did that, using the WW term would be rather hypocritical. So I don't expect it to happen any time soon. thatBut But
I read the article, took a look at the pictures. My favorite thing is that the daughter in the picture at Breslin (assuming it's the daughter since she's the smallest) seems to be flipping Dad the bird... Now that's Spartan if you ask me.
I did not notice that when I posted it. I am sure she learned it from her mother.
a fair weather fan--to a certain extent--as long as you don't rub people's faces in it. I for one have rarely missed a Michigan football game in years, but I am not a rabid basketball fan. If the team is having at least a decent season, I root for them, I watch games here and there. I always cheers them on, but I by no means follow the team fanatically. But I would never (and don't think I should) go around talking trash about Michgan and other basketball programs: I AM a fair weather fan of the sport. That being said, whenever I have had the chance to actually attend games, I go! I don't think I should be mocked, insulted, challenged to a fight about it.
Even if it's not your favorite sport, most people can enjoy almost anysport being played well. Just don't be a prick about it.
*None of this applies to family: Even if I have never seen a game of cricket in my life. Even if Michigan doesn't have any sort of affiliated cricket team. I should be allowed to trash-talk any MSU, ND, OSU, etc. family members about our cricket rivalry.
the Wal-Mart's in Lansing are loaded with Spartan specific merchandise and they sell-out rather quickly. Esp. the tailgating items.
Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
At the very least, the article is a nice testament to the level of class in which Michigan students and alumni carry themselves with.
This just in....: there are idiots fans rooting for every single sports team in America. A good portion of them never attended the school.
Why Spartan fans feel like they are so different is beyond me.
Even in Columbus there were (gasp!) OSU alums who treat M alums well.
But there is always that part of the fan base that..well...
Ann Arbor is one of the few cities without a Wal-Mart.
I've always found the term "Walmart Wolverine" to be a little odd, there are plenty of MSU fans that didn't go to State; at least the Michigan fans are supporting a winning tradition. Perhaps it was necessary to come up with an alternative to "Walmart Employee", which generally describes a graduate of MSU or one of their legacies?