An honest debate: Michigan and/or Michigan State?

Submitted by Sir Guy on February 8th, 2013 at 10:40 PM

I am a Michigan fan.  But, I would like to pose a question to the MGoCommunity.  Is it an acceptable practice to be a fan of both Michigan and Michigan State?  As usual for this site, I would like an honest debate, or a real consensus.  His argument is as follows.


I like both Michigan and Michigan State athletics.  My reasons: First, I grew up in West Michigan, and the area does not have a strong allegiance to either school.  Sure you will find the die hards to both schools, but West Michigan does not have a strong allegiance to one over the other.  Further, my parents did not have a preference either.  So, I being the avid sports fan that I am, found myself enjoying every game that both Michigan and Michigan State played.  When I was in Middle School I tried to like Michigan over MSU.  However, I found myself still rooting for MSU whenever they played.  As a result, I took this as a sign and tried to like just MSU, but ran into the same problem.  I still rooted for Michigan.  Even worse, I couldn't choose when they played against each other.  I would have friends ask me, "well who do you want to win then?"  And I would just have to say, "well I really do like both, and since I like both, and I want the Big 10 represented well in the year end tournaments, I guess I would like to see the team doing well have a chance to play in the big game."  Yes, I know what you are all thinking.. This guy is a bandwagon fan.  But let me assure you, its not so much that I am just rooting for the better team.  Its more that I just want to see both teams do well.  And if one of them has a chance to win the championship, you'd better believe I'd rather have atleast one team from Michigan representing than neither.  In the end, I like both partly cause I was not brought up to like one over the other, and also because I love sports and love to watch both teams.  I realize its an anomaly, but I truly have never been able to choose.  Thus, I root for both teams and follow both teams well.  It may be frustrating to the die hards, but its even more frustrating when I am trying to watch a Michigan game or a State game and have fans from either side telling me to shut up because I'm not a "true fan." It may be odd, but I am a true fan of both schools. 


And so I ask the community?  Is this acceptable, or must he choose a side?



February 8th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^

he will either hate the one and love the other, or love the one and hate the other.   though i am a 4th gen michigan alum (and have two nieces who are 5th gen), we are a maize and blue household.  but my dad played ball at state and my goddaughter goes there.  so, as long as state fans aren't schlongs i can pull for the green and white assuming of course they aren't playing us or northwestern (where oldest brother played ball). 

Doc Brown

February 8th, 2013 at 11:17 PM ^


You can root for some of the lesser and more moral upstanding members of the Big Ten (Purdue, Northwestern, Indiana, Nebraska) but not Ohio or Sparty. 


February 8th, 2013 at 11:18 PM ^

I didn't even read your friends reasons for liking both schools. Yes, it is okay to be a fan of both schools.

However, I do not think he can call or consider himself a "die hard fan". IMO die hard fans have  loyalty to a single program or school over an indefinite period of time regardless of whether or not the school goes into a losing slump.

On the other hand, your friend doesn't have to listen to anyone or have others confirm whether it is okay or acceptable to like both schools. A fan is a fan. As long as he continues to be a fan of both schools through thick and thin, that is his choice. To be fair, I would say the same to a person (if you could call them that) that considered themselves a fan of both Michigan and Ohio State.

Fair weather fans are the worst and the only kind of people I do not consider real sports fans at all. Anyone with half a brain can root for a team that is winning, and jump ship when things go south. 

Just my two cents.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:23 PM ^

Your friend is a front runner. Probably liked Michigan for football and MSU for basketball. That or he flip flops between who is good that year. In closing your friend is a tool.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:29 PM ^

You may just be a really positive fan.  Personally, I am a negative, cynical type who truly enjoys shadenfruede.  So when a rival or even another good team loses, I relish it.

However, your passion about either team does come into question, in that if you truly love a team, you must hate its bitter rivals.  

For example, I grew up in Chicago and I am a Chicago Bears fan but don't passionately follow the NFL.  I don't hate the Green Bay Packers  and actually like Aaron Rogers and root for the Packers because of Charles Woodson.  

So to your point, yes, you can be a fan of both teams, but your passion for either is greatly lacking.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:42 PM ^

Everyone else in the family went to Michigan, and she rooted for them too. But the rare time State won in football, she'd get this wry smirk on her face, and remind everyone that her master's was from there.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:45 PM ^


Is it an acceptable practice to be a fan of both Michigan and Michigan State?

Same sport?  Maybe ... but I would temper the meaning of the word "fan" in that case.  It certainly would not mean kind of intense loyalty expressed by many on this board.  Anyone who claims that kind of intensity for two rivals in the same sport isn't being honest.

Different sports?  More possible.  My blood runs deep blue for Michigan football.  The other sports I'm not nearly as interested in.  That's just me.  I have a mild interest in Michigan basketball or hockey and a casual interest in seeing Michigan State do well against other teams.

Now when it comes to Notre Dame ... I just hate them.  Hate their liver and guts.  All sports.  All endeavors.  All references to anything Notre Dame.  Hate them.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:51 PM ^

Does he have memorabilia for both schools anywhere in his house or wear memorabilia for both schools? If so, that makes him a tool.

Maybe it's a little different since they're both in the state of Michigan, but this one guy I know roots for Michigan in football and Duke in basketball. He was trashing Michigan basketball the other day on twitter and a lot of people were asking him uhh what the hell you're a Michigan fan? He claims that since he has been that way since he was little it's okay. Uh no, it's not. When you aren't an alumnus of either school, pick one school and stick with it.


February 8th, 2013 at 11:57 PM ^

I used to cheer for State when they weren't playing Michigan.  Then they tripped Desmond in the end zone.

Some time after that, I began to cautiously support little brother again on non-hate weeks.  Then Spartan Bob Clockgate occurred.

With the 49-3 thumping and Braylonfest having gotten that out of my system a bit, I was reconsidering my feelings toward Staee.  Then they hired Dantonio.  

Maybe in the distant future, after MD is gone and forgotten, I will once again think about wishing the Spartans well.  But undoubtedly something will happen then to make me think better of it.

Ball Hawk

February 9th, 2013 at 12:12 AM ^

Dont be that guy! A guy I work with claims to be a die hard U of M fan until basketball season starts. Its easy to like the winning teams. As a die hard U of M fan, I dont have any respect for people like this. Die hard fans stay loyal through the good and bad times. I have all the respect for people who root for their team during the dark times.


February 9th, 2013 at 2:15 AM ^

I'm a die-hard Michigan fan too, but don't have the basketball knowledge and history because I'm a hockey guy.  There's a segment of the Michigan fanbase that doesn't follow basketball until the Big Ten season starts up, or something like that.  There's also a segment that doesn't care about hockey unless it's MSU week or a tournament, and that's alright too.

This whole hockey debacle is really casting a pall over enjoying this basketball season, for me.  Just a year with a lot of feelings.


February 9th, 2013 at 12:17 AM ^

I didnt have a problem with watching MSU win in 2000. They are a team I would mind winning all the games exsept against Michigan. As long as we still finish better. The hate doesn't run deep like tOsu. I hate watching them win anything at all. I wouldnt mind tOsu losing for 10 years stright in every sport...State IS like the little brother you like to see do well once in a while.                                           


February 9th, 2013 at 12:21 AM ^

I'm more of a casual baseball fan, so I enjoy taking in the games for both teams, and I'll go to games for both teams in the same season.  Plus, considering how bad both teams usually are, its not like there is ever a bandwagon to hop on.  But I never understood the pick one or the other mentality when it comes to the Cubs or Sox, or for that matter the Yankees/Mets.  So, if the guy in question has no alumni ties to either school, then I can understand him liking both teams.

For me though, when it comes to college sports, it's only Michigan that gets my love, as I'm an alum.  I can't ever root for Staee, or OSU, or ND.  No matter what.


February 11th, 2013 at 8:47 AM ^

I grew up in the north burbs (deerfield/buffalo grove) so my dad took me to a lot of cubs games (6-8 a season) when I was younger because it was easier to get to than comiskey, but he would still take me to at least 1 sox game a year as well because he's a bigger sox fan than cubs fan, but he doesn't like going to that part of the city for games.  now that im older and he's not as concerned about my safety, he's more comfy bringing me to sox games and I get tix from him to those more frequently than cubs games now.  It also helps that he has a couple friends with sox season tickets, but his friend that used to be a cubs season tix holder stopped renewing his seats a couple years ago so we don't have that easy connection anymore.  My dad won't get tickets to a game unless he feels the seats are good seats, he'd rather watch from home if he's not on the lower level of the venue close to the action.  I've never sat higher than row 6 for a Hawks game with him, for example.

Cali Wolverine

February 9th, 2013 at 12:22 AM ^

...both the North and the South during the Civil War? Is his favorite flavor of ice cream vanilla and chocolate? Does he also root for Ohio State and Notre Dame? is not possible.


February 9th, 2013 at 12:43 AM ^

Who was a Michigan Basketball fan and MSU football fan. Couldn't get enough Brian Ellerbe or Bobby Williams. Now there would be a dedicated fan. One who probably likes the Lions too.


February 9th, 2013 at 1:18 AM ^

Tom Izzo built his entire reputation with the personnel he assembled through negative recruiting toward Michigan after the Ed Martin Debacle.

Mark Dantonio has made no secret of his hatred for Michigan.

Their fanbase has been intolerable since the internet became popular, and has escalated the bad feeling between the schools a lot, especially when their football team got their unprecedented winning streak against Michigan.

I dislike Ohio, and detest their cheating, but I still have a small amount of respect for them. OTOH, I have absolutely no respect for Michigan State.

Cheering for them now would be a tad difficult.



February 9th, 2013 at 1:45 AM ^

As someone else who grew up in west Michigan...  I felt the same way for a long time.  Until after the 2010 Michigan / Michigan State football game.  The behavior of Sparty in Ann Arbor; our city was absolutely dispicable. I've never witnessed a group of antagonists so incredibly outnumbered trying so hard to goad the general population around them into a fight. If there weren't Wolverines to defend the couches, they would've been burning in the streets.

Ever since I've regarded Spartan Fans as chronically afflicted with an inferiority complex that defies all reason, logic, or decency. Since I haven't gone to the horseshoe or the barn down in Columbus, I've yet to experience a more obnoxious fanbase firsthand. The only Michigan-Ohio State game I attended was 2011, and it was beautiful.  SIDE NOTE:  I had student season tickets in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  I attended several games in 2009 since my roommate had tickets and didn't care enough to go to several of the games, but I decided against season tickets after the frusteration of the 2008 season...


February 9th, 2013 at 2:10 AM ^

On one hand, Sparty can be a useful tool in beating Ohio State or other bigger rivals.  (For years, Michigan would beat Notre Dame and give Sparty a chance to knock out the Irish, and Sparty would blow it.)

On the other hand, three years of having bandwagon Sparty fans call our QB reprehensible racial slurs does get old.


And, speaking as someone who goes to a lot of Michigan games, watching a game in East Lansing is somewhat bizarre.  Way more drunkenness, far more profanities, and stuff that must have seemed cool in 1995.  (Despite all the renovations to their facilities, their Jock Jams, Volume 3 CD managed to stick around.)  Just a weird timewarp of a place.


February 9th, 2013 at 4:52 AM ^

When I came of age, Duffy and MSU owned the state. Only later did we learn that was a ¨paid for¨ period, as most of state's are.  Here I was a young man, h.s. football player and MSU involved in that year's ¨Game of the Century¨ with ND. They had it all. Bubbah, Clint, Johnson, Gene Washington and the backer, George Webster, as the defensive player of the decade, as voted by the AP writers at that time. I was 15 and I shoud have naturally gravitated toward the Spartans.   Count em, that is 5 AAs on one team. I was not sold even though I thought they got jobbed after the tie with ND.  ND gets shit just because catholicism is and always has been the largest Christian based faith in America.

However, just a few years later, with really not much interest I tunedd into another black and white televised game in '69 featuring the ¨Greatest team of the century¨ vs. a  8 win Michigan team, lead by a first year coach with a name that was difficult to pronounce. That day I say a team with a helmet insigna that just touched me and a new head coach who had them readyt o take on the world destroy that so called ¨Greatest team ever assembled,¨ and I was hooked. MSU should have had me two years earlier, but could not do so, but when I saw this team go up against a team they supposedly didn't belong on the field with and basically demolish them, coupled with these ¨crazy helmets,¨I was hooked.

Then when deciding on where I wanted to to to college, after h.s., and realizing the difference between the two schools and one that had a history of NCAA malfeasance as opposed to the winningest team of alll time, while still maintaining a standard so far above the other, there was really no decision. November, ´69 was the starting point. Research did the rest.

gustave ferbert

February 9th, 2013 at 6:14 AM ^

I can't understand why you would want to.  These people up here get all excited about the "little brother" thing but if you see how they acted after the RichRod era, you would quickly see the little brother phrase quickly has merit. 

Big House Fair

February 9th, 2013 at 6:28 AM ^

In northern Michigan, farther away from the "battle zone," this same debate started at work! I listened for as long as I could stand it, then I had to weigh in. You've got to choose one or the other, I said! If you say you're a fan of both, then you're a fan of NEITHER! GO BLUE!


February 9th, 2013 at 7:28 AM ^

So... If you're a fan of both...Where do you want Devin Booker to go to school? Or Drake Harris? I mean, you must acKnowledge that success for one school occurs at the detriment of the other. I suppose it is possible to be a fan of both if A. You just don't give it a lot of thought OR B. You just aren't very bright.


February 9th, 2013 at 7:34 AM ^

It is possible to to be a fan of both schools.  There are plenty of people like myself who did their undergrad at State and grad school at UM.  Makes for some interesting conversations.......

Darth Wolverine

February 9th, 2013 at 7:35 AM ^

You have to pick one or the other. While this is a free country and you have a right to choose and your own opinion, in this case you don't. You are wrong if you pick MSU....or Ohio for that mater.


February 9th, 2013 at 7:41 AM ^

My siblings and mother are all Sparties and my dad is neutral, so he roots for both. He actually hates going to the M/MSU games because with us he winds up feeling so conflicted. He lives in New England, so he can get away with it without much hassle.


February 9th, 2013 at 7:47 AM ^

I don't think a true "fan" really chooses who they root for. I never woke up one day and said "I think I will be a michigan fan." I was exposed to it as a child and have loved Michigan my whole life. I have also hated our rivals with a passion in the same way. Never by choice. If someone finds themselves loving both schools then maybe that is just how they are. So if you find yourself consciously choosing a team as your own, maybe you aren't really as big a fan as you think you are.


February 9th, 2013 at 8:00 AM ^

I can't really conceive of a true fan rooting for both teams. You like one or the other. This isn't like "steak or chicken?"

However, I know Michigan fans whose second favorite team is "whoever is playing MSU." Which means, they would root for Ohio or ND to win over MSU. These are fans who never want MSU to win at anything. Who would rather the SEC win 10 MNC than MSU win one. That's where I get off the bus. I will always be a Michigan fan. But if Michigan isn't involved, I'm a Big 10 fan first (so I'd generally prefer that MSU win their bowl games.) And I will more likely root for MSU than for Ohio, or even ND.

As regards schools, I generally agree that Michigan is better, but remember that in certain fields (animal science, agriculture, veterinary medicine,) MSU is either better or Michigan doesn't have that field as an option.


February 9th, 2013 at 8:28 AM ^

I consider myself a true die hard fan. My emotions are so inextricably bound up with the success of Michigan that I couldn't even relate to the person you described. In some sense maybe you can define them as a fan but qualitatively I don't think they really bear much similarity to what's going on in my head.


February 9th, 2013 at 8:49 AM ^

My brother is a Michigan Alum, and die-hard Michigan sports fan. However, as luck would have it, his son is now a freshman at MSU. As such, my brother attends MSU games with his son donning the green and white. I don't hold it against him. But I don't like it.