Confessions of a Walmart Wolverine

Submitted by Robocrofts on September 15th, 2014 at 8:52 PM

I was born in Williamston, Michigan.  I played basketball for Williamston Middle School in the seventh grade. As an underprivileged kid, I was befriended by our head coach.  One of his interventions to make a positive impact on my life was a trip to watch MSU play ball.  I don't remember who they played, but I remember Scott Skiles driving to the basket over what seemed like ten guys to win the game.  I never forgot that moment.  

From there I bounced around, drifting and following sports in general.  I remained aware of MSU and even followed some of their football.  Eventually in the late 90's I ended up on active duty stationed at Ft. Bragg.  For context, it as 1997.  One of my three roommates was a big football fan.  His team was Washington St.  We were also highly competitive and nearly came to blows several times during many of our drunken endeavors.  Needless to say, we all watched that game together in the barracks.  I never forgot that moment either.

Again, I bounced around following sports in general.

I remember the likes of Chris Perry and "Too Far" Navarre, but I also remember Lorenzo White and Tony Mandarich.  It's one hell of a dichotomy.  

In the end, I never really followed any of it with real commitment until a freshman named Chad Henne started instead of Gutierrez.  I've been there for every gut wrenching loss since.  I did the walk of shame at Notre Dame stadium when the Irish came back to win in 2002.  I watched the Rose Bowl against Vince Young and Texas with my wife's cousin who just returned from Iraq. (He is a Texas fan, so I was OK with the loss for him.)  I was also at Michigan Stadium for the RR miracle against Wisconsin.  Hell, before that I had my wife drive me to Ann Arbor just so I could stand outside the Big House on my birthday in July.

So there you have it.  As a kid I pulled for Sparty.  That is my sin.  My wife likes to tell everyone I still pulled for Sparty when we met 15 years ago.  Technically I was pulling for Sparty against UNC, so that does not count.  Either way, in my heart I'm a Michigan fan.  Call me a traitor.  Do what you will.  This confession may mean nothing.  Or maybe I'm the Steve Bartman of Michigan Football.  If that's the case, let this be my exorcism. 




September 15th, 2014 at 10:06 PM ^

I'll up the ante on this one and take on a future Purdue-Rutgers game, but only because moderating a live blog between fans of a terrible team that are very well-meaning and fans of a terrible team that are already perfecting the art of "classless asshole" should make for a game where everyone is banned by the midpoint of the third quarter. 


September 15th, 2014 at 9:05 PM ^

I forgot to mention I live in North Carolina and was in Boone the weekend before the Horror.  I was going to Bristol and had to stay in a a bed and breakfast there since no rooms were available by the track.  Of course I was wearing my gear and telling them how good the exposure would be for their football program. Little did I know how correct I was.  The next weekend I could not even got that damn game on TV in North fucking Carolina!  I had to listen to it on the radio and spent the rest of the day in the dog house because it was my wifes birthday and I was losing my shit all day!


September 15th, 2014 at 9:05 PM ^

I come from a sparty family, but have been Blue since I cared at all. If every family has a black ( or Blue ) sheep then that is me. From my point of view it doesn't matter where u came from or how u got here just that your here now. And GO BLUE to you also


September 15th, 2014 at 9:08 PM ^

This guy in my fourth grade class was the biggest MSU fan, or at least as big of a fan as a fourth grader can be, and he had quite the rivalry with our teacher all year. I recently found out that he is now a big Michigan fan. That kind of stuff is pretty mind boggling to me, but I can't blame anybody for switching to the maize and blue. I'm always interested in hearing how/when that change takes place.. Nevertheless, Go Blue


September 15th, 2014 at 9:15 PM ^

I never get the criticism of the W.W.  As if it is somehow a sin to have a vast fan base that still wants to root for your school despite not going there.  That's an honor, not something to mock.  I know of almost no Spartan fans that are not alumni.   Ohio is different since there is no alternative but this term comes from jealousy.

Wolverine Devotee

September 15th, 2014 at 9:22 PM ^

If anything it shows the jealousy of the sparty fans. 

No one grows up a state fan unless their parents went there. 

Mine didn't go to Michigan, but when I was born I had a plush Michigan Football in my hospital crib they put newborns in. There's photos of me in little #32 (for A-Train) jerseys from when I was 4-5. 

This isn't North Korea. People can cheer for who they want. I didn't go to Cass Tech, but I've been to quite a few of their games since they're a pipeline school for Michigan and they aren't that far away from me. 

As long as you're an educated fan and not a stereotypical t-shirt fan, it doesn't matter. 



September 15th, 2014 at 9:49 PM ^

For most of history, Michigan has been really good at football.  It you decided to root for the team 50 years ago, your fan experience has been much more pleasant than someone who roots for Illinois or Northwestern or Minnesota. 

If you went to a Tigers game (or whatever local team you choose) and some guy was dancing around in a Yankees jersey, you might ask if he was from New York.  If you found out he grew up two towns over from you and just happened to prefer the team with all the World Series titles, you'd maybe think the guy was a bit of an asshole. 

For whatever reason, there is a perception that fans have to in some way earn the good times.  We admire the guy who keeps going to Lions games more than the guy who decided to root for the Packers instead. 

The term doesn't come from jealousy, it comes because a guy who went to Purdue and has sat through years of hard times doesn't want to hear some guy crowing because he decided to root for the team that wins all the time.  Just like the guy from Bolton doesn't want to chat with some American in a Manchester United jersey.

I don't know why this is so hard to understand or why folks get defensive about it.


September 16th, 2014 at 10:25 AM ^

That is an interesting perspective and certainly true for some people who did choose to become Michigan fans.  However, it doesn't account for people who were born into families of Michigan fans and had no choice.  I am not Michigan alum, yet one of my earliest memories is Rumeal Robinson sinking two FTs vs Seton Hall.  That same year (I think) my parents let me stay up late to watch the Pistons close out the Trailblazers.  I also vaguely remember my dad throwing a pillow at the TV when Webber called that timeout and then cussing him out.  (The next day he told me he was sorry for yelling at Webber, and you should never yell at the players, haha.)

So I'm not an alum, but I also certainly did not choose to be a Michigan fan - the same way I did not choose to be a Pistons, Lions, Tigers, Wings fan.  I wasn't exactly brainwashed, but it was inevitable the way I was brought up, and there was never a conscious choice.


September 15th, 2014 at 10:01 PM ^

It was a phrase that was coined by Spartan as some kind of a slight.  But I agree it should be worn as a badge of honor.  Michigan is a brand with a National following and not every fan could possibly have gone there.  It is the same with all of the truely National brands.  MSU is not a National brand and therefore has to try to throw insults (in their minds).


September 15th, 2014 at 10:25 PM ^

Sparties have collected pictures of less than desirable looking people wearing Michigan gear. The Sparties I hear from use this as a justification for their comments. As I said in another post, ignorant, each and every one of them. I have learned to despise them more than Buckeyes. I really never would have thought that was possible.

Puget Sound Blue

September 16th, 2014 at 12:56 AM ^

So a year or two ago (can't remember exactly what year), when the Daily and the State News did their dueling columns thing on the Friday before the U-M/MSU game, the MSU guy made some kind of crack about how the women who attend U-M are ugly (not in those exact words, but that was the gist of it).

Now, I get that the idea of dueling columns is to trade barbs in good fun, but something like what that guy wrote is 1) completely unoriginal and 2) sexist. But hey, what can one expect?

Victor Valiant

September 15th, 2014 at 10:27 PM ^

I detest the usage of "walmart Wolverine" as a description of fans that aren't Michigan alums. I attended MSU out of high school, eventually transferring to a smaller college out of state to finish my degree. I wore Michigan apparel to every MSU home game my freshman year and openly spoke of my love for the Wolverines while attending the school. I didn't apply to Michigan and would have been a long shot to get in had I applied.  I'm just as much a fan of the Wolverines as any alum and care more about the team than every friend I have that actually attended Michigan. Watching Wolverine games with my dad are some of the first memories I can recall and I won't ever allow someone to marginalize my fandom simply because they attended the school and I didn't. Most alums never played or contributed to the team in any direct or indirect way other than the tuition they paid to the school.

I'm currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins. I wouldn't claim to be a bigger supporter of the lacrosse team than anybody that attended Stanford but has been a JHU fan since birth. We are equals in every way regardless of where I take classes.


September 16th, 2014 at 9:21 AM ^

MSU is close.  Almost nobody cares about them who did not go there or lives close by.

I live in the DC area which has a lot of people from all over the country.  It's an indicator of how "big" a team is by seeing how many people in this area are walking around wearing that team's colors.

I always see tons of Michigan stuff, all the time.  Michigan is big.  A lot of Penn State of course, because they are quasi-local.  You will also see the hot-team-of-the-moment for a while until they are replaced by the next big thing.  There was a lot of Texas stuff for a while, UNC stuff in the winter, even some Ohio State stuff for a while.

But I never see any Michigan State stuff.  Ever.  Not even after they won the Rose Bowl.  

Because nobody cares.

They wish they had fans that were not just alumni or locals. 


A Fan In Fargo

September 16th, 2014 at 2:07 AM ^

I never attended Michigan but growing up in South Dakota in the early to mid 90's was what had me sold. Everyone and their dog had Michigan gear. I am not kidding. When I watched the games on ABC and cartoons were over, it was the Michigan games that were always on. The way the commentators said "The Michigan Wolverines" just always had more excitement behind it. Cant deny that the helmets weren't awesome the first time I saw them too.


September 16th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

The only people I see even bringing up W.W. are MSU fans.  Having gone to the University and being a fan are two completely different things, and they are mutually exclusive in my eyes.  Lots of "Michigan fans" love the team and the program way more than the people who attended it, and that's fine.  I graduated from MSU's law school; I couldn't name you one Spartan who I've cheered for.  But I guess technically I'm a Sparty.  


September 15th, 2014 at 9:18 PM ^

I had to reply to this because I call myself a Walmart Wolverine as well. I am from Lansing and my entire family is state fans. But somehow my baby pics were taken in a UM sweater. I have been a UM fan my entire life. I graduated High School and had no guidance as to how to apply to a University and I attended community college w no purpose but to complete basic classes. Then opting to join the Army National Guard and serve my country but be able to stay home. I deployed once and now I am home and my contract is up. I never attended UM and people always say: "oh you're a Michigan fan? Did you go there?" When I say no they act like I can't be a fan. It's annoying bc that means anyone under the age of 18 or without enough money (or the type of guidance to be raised w college as a priority) to attend a university can't like college sports. And neither can those who choose to serve our country instead of attend UM. (I'm not including myself in that statement, I was in the NG, and only deployed once) My little brother has applied for next year, so hopefully I will have a Michigan Graduate in my family soon. And to ANY UM fans, Alumni GO BLUE! If you're a fan, you're a fan!

BOX House

September 15th, 2014 at 9:26 PM ^

I find this interesting because I am never asked if I actually went to school at Michigan. I think in recent years that question has probably dropped in numbers because people would assume you must be a huge Michigan fan to still be cheering for them, regardless of whether you went to school there or not.


September 15th, 2014 at 10:40 PM ^

from when they are acting like colostomy bags for a given school.   i would also tease all my yooper buddies who were G.B. packer fans if they rooted for red china, too.   meaning, they didn't live in wisconsin but rooted for the pack, they might as well root for the commies when they played the USA in anything too.