Lack of fan interaction with Michigan Football

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on May 10th, 2018 at 10:46 AM

This was mentioned the other day in another thread and I thought it would be interesting discussion to bring to everyone.

Fan interaction is dead. The Men's Football Experience and Women's Football academy were axed years ago as well as Fan Day. 

Meanwhile, Michigan Basketball has selfie night where you meet the players and coaches. Hockey has Skate with the Wolverines and Softball obviously has their academy and makes the players very accessible. 

And before "distraction" is brought up as an excuse, Alabama sure seems distracted by their fan day which is also known as the Running of the Gumps. Playoff teams Georgia, Clemson and Oklahoma also have fan days.

What are some ways you would help rebuild fan access/interaction? 


Mike Damone

May 10th, 2018 at 10:54 AM ^

go Old School like the 80's, and promote the interaction between the players and sorority girls/groupies as "boys being boys" and "good, clean college fun".

Just an idea...


May 10th, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

this is a pretty strange development. I'd like to hear his reasons. Maybe he doesn't want to share the spotlight.


May 10th, 2018 at 5:12 PM ^

As for being "down on Harbaugh," I never subscribed to the notion that he was an infallible genius to begin with.

The amount of brainless, sycophantic Harbaugh idolatry around here after he was hired was comical, and as I predicted at the time, once he failed to deliver multiple national championships right off the bat, it was inevitable that some would turn on him with equal amounts of irrationality.

He's obviously a very good coach, and anybody calling for his head right now is an idiot. He has yet to prove he's in the same group as Meyer and Saban and perhaps a small handful of others, but he's only three seasons in. I don't buy the notion that there literally isn't another coach in the country who could be successful here, but that doesn't mean Harbaugh shouldn't be given a very long leash, so to speak. He would have to fuck up very badly for an extended period of time to justify firing him. He's nowhere close to that.

Getting back to the original subject of the OP, don't you find it a bit odd that a HC who has prized public relations for the program has allowed fan-focused events to be discontinued? Maybe there's practical reasons for doing so, but I'd like to hear them anyhow.

Others downthread have pointed out the extensive exposure to the team via social media, and perhaps that's been deemed sufficient these days. However, the in-person fan experience is probably most important for much younger fans, and they are the ticket-buying customers of the future.


May 10th, 2018 at 7:49 PM ^

Don, you've articulated my thoughts on Harbaugh, this fanbase, and the Program fucking perfectly.  Now if we can just keep everyone from anointing Patterson the savior (oops, too late!)

To the PR question:
I seem to remember (and for the life of me I really can't specifically remember) that around the time of the Fan-Day stuff being cancelled there were some rumors/talk about the players not really liking it, and it being seen as kind of a dog & pony show. . .

Maybe the university is being properly (or perhaps overly) sensetive to those feelings?

Blue in Paradise

May 10th, 2018 at 10:59 PM ^

I made the mistake of peaking at RCMB one day and that board was full of Shavior references.

I don’t know if anyone remembers this, but this is ironic given that Nick Saban was called Nick Savior when he got hired at MSU. When he pulled his exit plan hijinx, he became Nick Satan.


May 10th, 2018 at 10:55 AM ^

Being a man in my 30s, I don’t need more fan interaction personally. However, those are special events for young fans and I’m disappointed to see them go away. I had hoped that the events that were axed would be replaced by something better, but so far they’re just gone.


May 10th, 2018 at 11:27 AM ^

Agreed. I had two small kids with me in 2011ish and they were pushed out of the way to get autographs by dudes who were like 30 years old and drooling all over the players. I vividly remember Jon McColgan being annoyed at some guys who were pushing little kids out of the way,


May 10th, 2018 at 10:09 PM ^

Exactly. I stopped going to the fan day when i was 23 when it became evident it was overrun by men in their 30's and 40's with dufflebags filled with mini helmets. I felt dirty going to the event, when it should be for the kids. The McGuffie year was my last year going to the event.  


May 10th, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

I think there is too much interaction already with fans, via social media. Players should play and fans should watch them play. 


May 10th, 2018 at 11:06 AM ^

Infrequent but direct and personal interactions have died in favor of constant, instantaneous, and, many would argue, impersonal/superficial interactions via social media.

Hardware Sushi

May 10th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

I don't care. I never understood "fan interaction" with athletes. Same with movie stars or musicians.

They're people that I don't know. I want to see them do what they're good at: play sports or act or make music.

And from the player's perspective, I wouldn't want to not get paid to say hi to a bunch of strangers I've never met when I already have limited personal time. Leave the players alone.


May 10th, 2018 at 11:15 AM ^

I'd like to win a raffle or some kind of drawing where I get to carry the ball in an actual game. Something like a 1 yard FB dive type of thing.

Bando Calrissian

May 10th, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

This is pretty much where I'm at with it.

At the same time, I've never felt like Michigan Football was more isolated or insular than it is now, even in the heights of the Fort Schembechler era. This program seems abnormally inaccessible, and for no apparent reason at all. Doesn't help that Harbaugh is unavailable, if not downright surly when it comes to the media.

You don't have to like the media, you don't have to like the public, but in a job like his, your job is to engage with them--and make them feel like you're not trying to evade or hide. Coachspeak is the art of saying something while saying nothing, all the while keeping up appearances and allowing people room to give you the benefit of the doubt. That's not the same thing as saying and doing nothing as a rule, and not letting anyone or anything in, which is where we're at these days.

I'm not saying the players and coaches should be hanging out with fans and all of that, but it's pretty easy to build goodwill for your program by encouraging them to be a part of the community, especially in regards to younger fans, and for the coaches to be more than one-dimensional human beings. Build bridges, not walls.

How many of us were sucked in as fans at an early age because we met Bo or Harbaugh or someone else at some public relations event or school visit or open practice? I'm betting a lot. I know that kind of thing did a lot for me.


May 10th, 2018 at 12:14 PM ^

Have you been paying attention to social media at all?  The team just went on an incredible, very personal trip to France.  I believe Harbaugh and his dad were crying in one of the videos.  The players were overwhelmed, in many cases.  

How about the newpapers, did you follow those?  They were stories in both papers nearly every day. 

Did you watch ESPN?  They sent a reporter.  In fact most of the country is complaining that they had to see Harbaugh and Michigan on TV constantly in the offseason. 

If you can't view that material and get a feeling of attachment for the players, I don't know what to tell you.  No, I never met a coach or player at an early age.  I'd take you up on that wager - the vast majority of us don't.  If we did, it was after the fact, when we'd already became fans and said hey can we go see them fan day.  For me I never had much interest in that.  

If you want to see them interacting more locally, check out Grant Newsome and John O'Korn and Winovich and on and on with Larry Prout Jr.  It's all readily available. 

Bando Calrissian

May 10th, 2018 at 1:05 PM ^

And there's nothing wrong with that, but at the same time, that should be the only expectations for the Spring Game. Let kids have fun, let people have fun watching some kind of football. It's a practice they let you watch.

When it gets out of whack are when certain people start worrying about the final score, demand a full scrimmage, get mad when they don't get enough perks during the day, start keeping attendance stats, obsessively compare it to other programs' spring game attendance...

I think you know where I'm directing that critique.

Blue in Paradise

May 10th, 2018 at 1:26 PM ^

spring game when I was a student in the early to mid 90s - and we were all football obsessed.  I am sure people went but it was not a thing and wasn't on tv or radio.

I vaguely remember reading about one of two in the Michigan Daily in the days after.  There was one game I remember reading that they played in the mud.  That is about it.

Of course, in those days, nobody knew about any of the recruits until the actually hit the field (except Wheatley and Henson because they were local legends) or could name a coach other than the HC, OC and DC.


Go Blue Rosie

May 10th, 2018 at 11:28 AM ^

I actually agree with this.  Not for me - I think it's creepy for adults to try to mingle with the players - BUT as a parent of two young kids who live and die for the team, it would be nice to have a way for them to interact with the players.  My kids belong to the Kids Club and last year we were able to go down on the field after the spring game.  I would say about 25 players stayed out to meet with the kids and pose for pictures.  It was awesome and I wish they would find more ways for that kind of thing to happen.  We've waited around at the stadium after games but it's a mess and the autograph hounds push the kids out of the way when players come out.    

This isn't something I'm writing to Warde about but since the topic was raised, I will agree with the OP.  

Blue in Paradise

May 10th, 2018 at 11:39 AM ^

create negative posting opportunities on the site the last few days? 

If you don't like the fact that they got rid of some fan interaction event, send a letter to the Athletic Department.

Ignore the fact that the team has organized two life changing trips for the players in the last 13 months.  But hey, Alabama had some stupid fan boy event so I guess that means the AD and the staff are better people than those at Michigan.

[email protected] this is getting ridiculous.