What it means to me to be a "Walmart Wolverine"

Submitted by Plegerize on August 9th, 2009 at 7:48 PM

(Note: This has been bothering me for some time; spending my time in college I  find myself coming across this more and more.)

I was at a friend’s costume party in East Lansing about a month ago, surrounded by Sparties and the like, when a fellow UofM fan walked in wearing Michigan memorabilia. I naturally walked over and told her I was also a UofM fan much to the other Spartans’ chagrin.

This became an issue throughout the night, however, when we would talk smack and go back and forth with the other Sparties. Arguing with them was an easy task-- as it always is because they really have nothing on us except for one victory in over 7 years-- but then they pulled out a wildcard of sorts. Something so diabolical yet really stupid that it boils my blood and grinds my gears every time I hear a fan of another team use it: I was only a “Walmart Wolverine”.

Now I happen to be a Central Michigan University student (and the UofM fan-girl was a State student) but I was born and LIVED in Ann Arbor my entire 20 years of existence. I have more history in that town than most students of the actual school have. I could’ve gone to Michigan for my undergrad; I graduated with highest honors from high school and know plenty of people from my graduating class who did choose to go to Michigan, but because I am paying for my own schooling, I could not afford their tuition.

I bleed maize and blue, I have always had a passion for Michigan sports and it pains me that I cannot go to school there. That being said, for someone to have the nerve to come up to me and question my fan hood just because I don’t go to the school is just straight out bullshit.

It is by far the dumbest argument I have ever had to face: “You don’t go to school there, you’re not a student, so therefore you cannot be a fan!”

Fuck you!* Have you ever worked for the Detroit Tigers? You haven’t? Well you aren’t associated with them, therefore you can’t be a fan. I just can’t imagine what these morons say to other State fans (or other fans of other schools) who didn’t go to their school. Walmart Spartan? I mean the logical argument works for all teams spanning across all fans.

Didn’t play soccer or live in Europe? Can’t be a soccer fan.

Never been to a hockey game? Can’t be a hockey fan.

Did you ever play for the Detroit Pistons? No? Well can’t be a fan of them either.

Of course some people might try to say that the fallacy in my argument with other sports, such as professional sports, is that you can be a fan of the said team because you live in the region.

But then they just proved their own argument wrong that I can’t be a Michigan fan because I lived in Ann Arbor my entire life, thereby associating myself with the local team.

I apologize that I am not a Michigan student nor on my way to becoming an Alumnus to the school. I apologize that I lived near the campus my entire life and chose to follow them instead of some other school that I have no local/familiar ties to. I’m just straight up sorry that your best argument to try to deface my fan hood has no logic to it. But say what you have to say, I will always root for the maize and blue, even if it means being a “Walmart Wolverine”.


*I apologize for the profanity. It is there for emphasis and nothing more.


Incremental Ob…

August 9th, 2009 at 9:40 PM ^

I'm captain of a very similar ship. Same fleet, anyway. I was deferred and then rejected (Ohio resident) by Michigan out of high school.

I was probably as borderline as candidates get too. It was the only school that rejected me; and I was offered a scholarship to Indiana, and was admitted to tOSU's Honors Program (my mom sent the application under my name) despite not writing the optional essay. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to go Big Ten and not Go Blue.

Anyway, still a fan to the core. Maybe I'll validate it by getting a PHD from UM in my old age.


August 11th, 2009 at 1:49 PM ^

I call BS on your assertion that you were admitted into the honor's program at OSU without completing the application. It's not a community college. Additionally, why would you go to Kent read, Kent write, Kent State if you were admitted to OSU honors. (I know this is dick, I'm sorry) If the answer is "I'm a Michigan fan," you're an idiot.

My father played football at Ohio State. I am a fan of their football team. I was admitted to a graduate program at Michigan and I had a wonderful experience in Ann Arbor. I chose this program over Ohio State, because it was better. After this long, and ultimately annoying, diatribe, I'm not sure I have a meaningful conclusion. Except I don't believe you were admitted to OSU honors. Neg me appropriately.

Incremental Ob…

August 12th, 2009 at 8:04 PM ^

EDIT: Originally posted a long and pointless post filled with some degree of hostility toward your reaction.

Anyway, the jist was that I'd love to defend my "assertion" with some evidence. But outside of scanning my acceptance letters and sending them to you, there's no real way to do that. So we'll just agree to leave my credibility in question for the time being. Because I do, after all, realize that my story bears semblance to snake oil. Oh well.

Incremental Ob…

October 11th, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

If you want to "bottom-line" it, then yeah. You could say that. I was never going to go to oSucks. Mostly because of UM football, but also because I don't like the city of Columbus.

But there were other factors at play, as there always are when selecting a college. Michigan was always the first choice. And after it didn't work out, location became the primary factor in my selection process because I wanted to be close to my family. Is that any less idiotic?


August 9th, 2009 at 10:02 PM ^

well its harder to get into michigan than msu. so a lot of people that were fans since a young age didn't go to the school. but you aren't a walmart wolverine.

whats the difference between a michigan student and a msu student? they both got accepted into michigan state.

walmart wolverines in my book, are the ones that have no ties to the program, don't actually follow the team or players, say the colors are blue and gold, and just wear the colors and say that are a fan because they win.


August 9th, 2009 at 10:35 PM ^

I don't have solid numbers but I think the following statement passes the credulity test: a lot of Spartans grew up rooting for Michigan. MSU draws most of its student body from in-state; The University of Michigan dominates the state. Do the math.

Try to put yourself in the mind of one who was a young Wolverine partisan, who was rejected from Michigan, went to MSU, and found there the comfort of many more rejected by blue and then welcomed by green. It's okay, they are told, for Ann Arbor is only for those who think they are too good for you, the rejected ones.

There is a special hatred among apostates for those who did not convert when faced with the same impetus. They see their conversion as the only logical response, and thus have a special contempt for those who keep their faith. To them, your loyalty is, must be, a sign of ignorance. Thus the Spartan hatred if the so-called "Walmart Wolverine." Take heart, fellow Michigan man. The Sparty's bile comes not from something wrong with you, but with him, for you are walking proof that when turned away from his childhood team, there were other paths than pettiness. You are a walking reminder to him that he too once had maize and blue in his veins, and a living rinder of the rejection he will never, never live down.

The irony of this misplaced malice is that you now enjoy the same acceptance from other Michigan fans which he believes he was so unjustly denied. You are my brother, while he has become one more sour "little brother." This self-fulfilling prophesy, of which he is subconsciously aware, is the reason he feels he must place you in a secondary category, rather than admit his own betrayal atop his shame.

Or maybe he's a dick.

You don't need a degree from Michigan


August 10th, 2009 at 10:15 AM ^

This is superb. I've often advocated for the application of Nietzsche's master-slave morality dichotomy as a framework for understanding our two biggest rivalries: with the Spartans and with the Buckeyes. Obvious, really. You've elucidated it far better than I've been able to.

But Golda Meir did it even better: "There will be no peace until [Spartans/Buckeyes] love themselves more than they hate [Wolverines]."


August 9th, 2009 at 10:32 PM ^

Just picked me up a MICH shirt at Wal-Mart today. Excellent quality and material. Much better than being a Meijer Michigander. Wait, I got a MICH shirt at Dunhams also, how does that work?


August 9th, 2009 at 10:41 PM ^

These “Walmart” Wolverine fans are a great asset to the University.

They are a great reason why we fill our stadium each week and are selected for nationally televised games in a multitude of sports week after week, year after year. Sparty actually finds ways to attempt to insult the University of Michigan, yet their attempted insult points to one of the reasons why we have such great support for our great institution.

We do not hear Michigan State complaining about all those non-MSU-affiliated people that become MSU basketball fans and pour in money for their program. We do not hear Michigan State fans complaining about all the national good-will sentiments sent their way with their Final Four run last year. Do you possibly suppose anyone across the country became MSU basketball fans due to that run? Should Sparty fans not reject them and tell them that they are not wanted?

I was a "Walmart" Wolverine in Ohio until I was 17 when my high school advisor highlighted the University of Michigan's prominent influence as a globally recognized academic institution. So I submitted my application and had a phenomenal six years receiving an undergrad and graduate degree in engineering.

However, as a fan, what makes me different from the original poster, or from anyone else that loves the Maize and Blue across the globe?

Six years later, as a Michigan fan, as a Michigan alum, as a student season ticket holder for football, hockey and basketball, as a lifelong Michigan fan: I open up my arms to anyone that claims themselves to be a Michigan fan.

As long as you are reasonable, then you are a friend of mine.


August 10th, 2009 at 12:19 AM ^

Well said. One thing we can use is a dose of humility.

Just to give you an idea of how deep the "prejudice" against Sparty ran in my family: my Dad(now deceased, also a UM alum)used to tell us as children that you'd only go to MSU if you wanted to end up on the assembly line at the Lansing Oldsmobile plant. This is what we Wolverines hear growing up.

Nice post, brother.


August 10th, 2009 at 12:30 AM ^

+1 schmakj.

Thanks to the OP,Plegerize, as well. I enjoyed reading it, and like you, I hate Sparties who label fans with that as well. Like schmakj said, what about the fans of MSU basketball who pump money into that program? Are they not scorned because of their (dis)affiliation, despite the fact they bring in revenue to MSU?

Oh, and I've always had a similar term for Spartan fans of that nature: K-Spartans.


August 10th, 2009 at 7:56 AM ^

you can be a fan and not attend the school. I know plenty of guys that are fans of NFL teams that haven't lived (and maybe have visited once) the city of the NFL team.

I'm a Miami Dolphin fan and have never been to a game in Miami, and have only recently visited the city. Does that mean I love them less than somebody who lives in Miami and doesn't really follow football?

I also know a guy that is just as big of a fan as me (and is more of a fan than half of the grads) that didn't attend M and has only been to AA once.

Where you live/ go to school doesn't make you a better fan. You just need to follow the team, and leave the games without a voice.

Beware the Otter

August 10th, 2009 at 9:57 AM ^

To me someone who calls someone a Walmart Wolverine is really saying "I'm jealous because your school has appeal to people outside of the ones who graduated from there." So I see it as a compliment. I have a ton of friends who have been Michigan fans all their lives but had to go to a different school and guess what? They're still Michigan fans

Feat of Clay

August 10th, 2009 at 10:47 AM ^

I grew up in a state where there was just one flagship university--and no pro sports teams within the state's borders. There was one team in the state, and that was the University football team. EVERYONE was a fan; attending the school, having a family member who attends the school, or living in the same town as the U--none of that mattered one iota. The whole state took ownership of that team, AND HOW.

So for me, the idea that you have to be an alum to truly be a Wolverine (or Spartan, or Buckeye, or Buffalo, or Cornhusker, or what have you) is cockeyed. Perhaps if said Sparty had ever set foot out of his own state, he'd get that too.

That said, some of the worst, lowest-class behavior I've ever seen around U-M football games came from Wolverine fans that I am pretty sure didn't attend U-M. At least, I was hoping so.


August 10th, 2009 at 10:53 AM ^

You went to a costume party in July?

Anyway, you sound a lot like me. I went to EMU but was raised in Ann Arbor and have been watching Michigan games since I was old enough to comprehend a television.

To me, a true fan never chooses to be a fan of any team. If you wake up one day and say "USC is really good every year, I think I'm going to be a USC fan," then you are not truly a fan of USC.

I never chose to be a fan of Michigan, I just always was. Sparties are just jealous because the only way you could possibly be a Spartan fan is if you went to school there.


August 10th, 2009 at 12:10 PM ^

I am also what you could call a Wal-Mart Wolverine because I probally won't be going to Michigan for school because of finacial reasons. Even though I'm not a student I bleed Maize and Blue. I follow the team religously and have read up alot of history on Michigan football. You can find me every Saturday watching Michigan on TV with my Michigan jersey on. If that makes me a Walmart Wolverine so be it because I will always cheer on the Maize and Blue.


August 10th, 2009 at 1:45 PM ^

I agree with most of you that you don't have to attend to the school to be a fan, however the biggest thing for me when I say "Wal-Mart Wolverine" is the people who downgrade MSU as an academic institution and insult my education I'm getting there.

Go ahead and trash talk about sports, but the moment you tell I'm unintelligent because I go to MSU is when you're a Wal-Mart Wolverine. Especially when these people have nothing beyond a high school diploma.


August 10th, 2009 at 2:01 PM ^

Co-signed. I can't stand it when people bring academics into a discussion of college football because it always reveals a lack of knowledge about the purpose of higher eduction and the actual rankings of schools. Michigan State is a better school than the vast majority of colleges in this country. A lot of Michigan State alums will make more money than a lot of Michigan alums. These are facts.


August 10th, 2009 at 2:24 PM ^

and i didnt go to school there. Id really like to get a grad degree there, but i wont cut my wrists if i dont. ( Although id cut YOUR wrists to be able to be legit in a "Michigan Medicine" t-shirt). Ive been going to Michigan games since 1986 as a 3 year old, my mom has a UM-Dearborn degree, and my sister has a MSW from UM. I walked away from UM of my own volition to go to school further away from home, got a degree from Georgia Tech, and will still clown on sparties the same way i do "climpsun" fans.


August 10th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

There's nothing wrong with being a Wal-Mart Wolverine.

I think the problem is when people get so worked up over sports that they have lost a greater perspective on things. Sports are great. Being a fan is great. But good lord, legit fights? "Not going" to UM doesn't make you any less of a person. Most of the world didn't go to UM.


August 10th, 2009 at 5:14 PM ^

...a Wal-Mart Wolverine is not simply one who cheers for Michigan, but also talks trash to other students about academics, etc.

Anyone can be a fan, regardless of where they went to school. It's just the derogatory stuff that's hated. Just e-pinion.


August 10th, 2009 at 6:08 PM ^

But that wasn't the point.

He wasn't talking trash about academics. Seems to me the reason it's called a Wal-Mart Wolverine is it means you got your Michigan shirt at Wal-Mart, not on campus. Since Michigan is one of the highest-grossing schools in terms of apparel, that would make sense.

Sure, people talk about the education at Michigan ad nauseam, but it's in the top 30 schools in the country. There have been tons of discussions on these boards and in a lot of places that it should be higher, or lower, and LSA is weak but the B-school is amazing - and that's all well and good. When the facts are in, Michigan IS one of the top-two schools in the Big 10 (Northwestern).

But the derogatory stuff and the academic stuff isn't what's at issue. I know a guy who grew up in Cincinnati, OH, went to University of Kentucky and his parents went to Johns Hopkins and U-Maryland. He was a Michigan fan. Was he what you would call a Wal-Mart Wolverine? Sure. Was he a fair-weather friend? Probably.

But I don't care why someone is a Michigan fan. I am not cynical enough to question motivation behind what college football team someone roots for, and the situation described is not a slight against the football team. It's a personal affront.

People like the teams they like for their own reasons. Maybe the guy I described above saw a great game from Jarrett Irons and thought it was cool. Maybe he liked the really high winning %. At the end of the day, it's a group of people cheering for a common goal against the other team who wants the same thing for their side.

There are a lot of douchebags and fans I wouldn't want to sit next to - and that goes for UM fans, too. But people can root for who they damn well please. People aren't less-than because they have different reasons for being fans. The only way they're less-than is if they're dumbasses.


August 10th, 2009 at 6:39 PM ^

I actually just defined the term very specifically and have never "thrown it around".

It's kind of ridiculous for someone to mock another person's education without any sort of justification, but it happens.

Again, being a fan of a school is great. A high school graduate telling someone their college degree sucks? Kind of stupid.

Your Western/Spartan coworker is an idiot. No need to generalize that to everyone.


August 10th, 2009 at 7:05 PM ^

"...a Wal-Mart Wolverine is not simply one who cheers for Michigan, but also talks trash to other students about academics, etc."

So if a Yale graduate were a UofM fan and teased a Spartan about academics, then he would be a Walmart Wolverine? Your very well defined definition allows for Walmart Wolverines to have attended UofM itself or a top notch school.

Anyways, your Walmart Wolverine definition appears to be different than the majority of Spartan Nation. The use of the term is a derogatory insult that fits in line with the majority definition not your minority definition. Since it goes both ways, people tease MSU academics, because MSU fans tease UofM about any other # of things. What makes MSU insults more justifiable, in example..."UofM girls are ugly."


August 10th, 2009 at 7:40 PM ^

"A Yalie isn't going to be living vicariously through another school's academic accomplishments."

So...a Yalie can't put down another school's academics and wouldn't even dream of it?

Fact is your definition of Walmart Wolverine is quite different than how it is most commonly used by Spartans. Including the official Walmart Wolverine website created by Spartans.

Halftime of the 2002 UofM-MSU football game waiting in line for the restroom an MSU fan started mouthing off about MSU owning UofM basketball. I told him to live the now and stop changing the sport because he didn't like the fact that the scoreboard currently read UofM 21 - MSU 3. He then proceeded to ask me if I got my Michigan shirt at Walmart and that I probably didn't go to UofM. That is how MSU fans typically use the expression.


August 10th, 2009 at 6:09 PM ^

True Story. I once had a coworker Spartan fan that constantly ripped on UofM. One of his biggest complaints was that "no Michigan fans actually went to UofM." I pointed out that it was a hypocritical slam at UofM considering that he went to Western and he continued to argue that so many Michigan fans did not go to UofM. If that truly is a bad thing, then he himself was a disgrace to MSU.

As a UofM graduate I can say that some of the biggest fans did not go to UofM and also some of the worst fans did attend the school. This is America and we can cheer for whoever we want. Fact is, I would bet that most MSU fans didn't go to school there either, especially if you count the young fans.

tom c

August 10th, 2009 at 9:29 PM ^

I fix car in the deep south. One of my customers is an alum. It was through a phone call from him that I learned of Bo's death. He knew I would want to know. I have reasons for my fandom, but for now they are mine.


August 10th, 2009 at 9:48 PM ^

Totally agree. The whole "Walmart Wolverine" argument has more to do with alliteration than reality. You can like any school you want - anyone who says otherwise clearly derives far too much self-worth from the perceived "exclusivity" of being a student/alum.


August 10th, 2009 at 10:12 PM ^

major college football and basketball. How many fans of UM, Duke, UNC, UCLA, USC, etc...actually went to those schools? I bet about 50%.

Major college sports are a gigantic advertisement for their schools. These schools WANT non-affiliated persons to cheer for their squads. Fielding Yost and Knute Rockne both strove to attract the average joes to their respective schools. WHy do you think UM stadium was built to seat 85,000 for a sport that was not all that popular?Why do you think Rockne stressed to Catholics to cheer for ND?

Major college football and basketball are operated as businesses.This is no secret to anyone who choses to pay attention.

The whole "Wal-Mart Wolverine" bit hypocritical--MSU has plenty of their own--and lame. MSU fans have nothing else to slam Michigan for so they go that route.


August 11th, 2009 at 3:00 AM ^

The insult "Walmart Wolverine" is absolutely ridiculous. Every school strives for "Walmart Wolverines", "Super Kroger Spartans", "Target Trojans", etc. It's called a fanbase. Its a dumb insult.

And for the idea that our school is better: it may be true, it may be false (I'll reserve my opinion to myself). But who cares? They're both in the Big Ten, which holds high academic standards and they both beat out "*CC", your "local dum kiid scool". Whatever. None of that has ANYTHING to do with college football.

Can't afford/get high enough grades/'excuse 2894' to get into the school? "You're a Walmart Wolverine." So, that's still a Wolverine, a member of the fanbase that is double digits ahead of the Spartans in COLLEGE FOOTBALL, not basketball, not academics. Football.


August 19th, 2009 at 9:54 PM ^

I wish I could go to M, but I have to pay for it myself and ,being a Canadian, cant get student loans so Im literally not able to go to M(In my later years I may just take a couple cources just to say I went there) Am I then a Walmart-Wolverine?

And btw, most of this is Pat Caputo's fault. Whenever he talks college football and a M fan calls up, he asks them if they went to M and if they say no, he instantly calls them a Wallmart Wolverine. He is always putting down M yet he claims to be imparcial. I remember after Mike Harts bad 40 time at the draft, he made sure to find someway to make fun of it on every one of his shows untill August! The guy is a foney and needs to check himself.


September 5th, 2009 at 5:26 AM ^

Ah the old Walmart Wolverine insult. This is something I personally cannot stand. Most "Walmart Wolverines" have been fans their entire lives and their family's have been fans their entire lives. Who do you think makes up a huge portion of the fans in attendance and watching at home? But because somebody from NY state gets accepted to the UofM, This person who could have easily been going to NYU instead, starts going to games, it makes him "more" of a fan then a guy who has loved and watched Michigan football for his/her entire life?

You're telling me a freshmen who now has a full two months under his/her belt is a bigger fan then us who have been their for every victory and defeat since we where born? I was their for the 100th game with my father and grandfather both life long "Walmart Wolverines" where you Mr. Chicago kid? Where you watching? No? You mean to tell me you only started watching Michigan football because you now go to the University and have nothing to do on a Saturday.

It doesn't matter, a fan is a fan. It honestly shouldn't matter, I'm not better because I have watched and loved the Wolverines my entire 22 years of existence and students are not better because they "have direct ties" to the University. Heck I have friends in SoCal who are Michigan fans because way back when their grandfather went to a Rose Bowl game watched them play, watched the pageantry saw the winged helmet's and the Maze and (Navy) Blue colors and fell in love.

So Walmart Wolverine....Meh as long as you're a Wolverine thats all that counts in my book.

Go Blue!