When I was a young child, before the age of five, my family had to drive through Ohio. As we crossed the border, my dad said in a scary voice, ‘we are now entering the EVIL state’. I was terrified and could not be consoled. Imagining terrors out the window trying to get us.
When I was 5, my dad took me to my first Michigan football game. A graduate of Michigan, he has 2 season tickets since the 70s. It was a family ritual, each child got to attend their first game at five. I remember my mom packed me a lunch (you were allowed to do that then), with snickers candy from Halloween. I felt so special, being at the game with just my dad. In a family of six, one on one time with the parents didn’t always happen, I will never forget what it felt like. And, I was bored to death with the game. SO BORED. But really, really thankful for the snickers (still my favorite candy).
When I was in Elementary School my sister and I went to a game in November. It was freezing and sleeting. The wind was unbearable. We got out of the car and were assaulted by our uncles who covered us in their coats, their tarps, their hats and gloves. I remember my Uncle Dan telling me I had to put my arms into my shirt, under my winter jacket and under my armpits to keep them warm (true story). It was so cold. I don’t remember if we won. I remember feeling so loved and protected by my dad and all my uncles.
When I was in Middle School my dad and I started going to the Minnesota Game together. The ‘Little Brown Jug’, oldest trophy in college football. That became my game. Anytime it was at home, we’d go together.
When I was in college, I lived in the ‘evil’ state. I had to deal with horrible Ohio State fans (who I, incidentally, love), as the rivalry went back and forth.
I was there when Michigan beat Penn State with only a few seconds left. I remember looking at the time on the scoreboard and asking a complete stranger, ‘is there anyway we can win this game?’. ‘Doubtful’ he responded. And then we won. And the obnoxious Penn State fan who was sitting in front of us, who started the game by saying, ‘The Big House is really not impressive’ (remember the ‘Big House’ is the largest college stadium), I remember her hanging her head in silence as she left the stadium.
I remember sitting in my apartment, Michigan/Michigan State were playing into triple overtime. I remember screaming so loud and scaring the crud out of our cat as I pretty much had an out of body experience and chucked the remote across the room.
I always tell people, I am an emotional football watcher. I don’t really know all the nuances. I still don’t understand ‘holding’. I’m not someone that gets into the nitty gritty of what positions the players are getting into.
But I love college football.
I love the fall drive to Ann Arbor at least once a season
I love the feeling I get when I walk into the stadium for the first time.
I love the guy who sits behind us and screams ‘cheaters’ every time a flag is thrown.
I love tailgating with friends, drinking just enough to get a little buzz on and stay warm during the first quarter.
I love hugging complete strangers when the intensity is high and an unbelievable play has happened.
I love hosting little gatherings at our house, watching football with friends and family.
I love, I mean ADORE putting my kids in their game day jerseys and getting them to scream, ‘Go Blue!’
I love the trash talk that comes with the rivalries that are so special, Notre Dame, MSU, Ohio State.
Oh, and I love hating Ohio State.
Truth (judge if you must), I totally enjoyed the fight yesterday during the game, TOTALLY. No one got hurt, OSU showed themselves as dirty, and it reminded us all why the rivalry is good (I know, I know, Pope Francis would NOT approve).
Yesterday, I was with great friends, enjoying everything I love about college football. A great game that stops your heart, high fives and even, occasionally, the crushing blow of a game lost by one point.
For me, it’s about tradition.
For me, it’s about my dad.
For me, it’s about my childhood…
For me, Fall is all about Michigan football!
See ya next year Big House!!!
The Team, The Team, The Team!