Tag Archives: michigan state

Football Gametime Etiquette

Well, those of you who know already know this is the best time of the year–football is back. A lot of people prefer the NFL. I love college football myself and am a diehard Michigan Wolverine. Now, I spent an ojo de la cara to go to the Michigan-Notre Dame game this past weekend, and, though the experience was worth every penny and I’m glad I went to the game, I seriously contemplated after the game whether or not I ever wanted to do it again (before I went right back to making plans to attend the Rose Bowl in California).

Why?

Due to the lack of gametime etiquette in the stadium.

Now, it’s not like this was my first time going to a football game, but this was the first time the etiquette was this out of hand. And I wasn’t the only one who had a problem with it, as I heard an old bitty behind me outside the stadium after the game whining and giving her laundry list of etiquette issues.

This is not a Michigan thing, I’m sure. That’s why I’m posting this message which I’d like to reach football fans far and wide. This is my football gametime etiquette guide for those who attend football games.

Let’s begin:

1) Um…sit the fuck down. I mean, really. If you’re standing, people behind you are forced to stand…and standing for 4 hours at the Michigan-ND game wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I bought a ticket for a seat, not for concrete to torture my feet muscles. I know the game was a special occasion–hell, that’s why I ponied up the dough for this game, and I would have quit my job if they had told me I had to work Friday instead of fly up to Michigan, just so I could see Michigan beat ND for the last time at our stadium. But not everything is worth jumping the fuck up and refusing to sit down. “Woo, the running back ran for 2 yards…let’s stand up and get in everybody’s way!” Come on, now.

2) Along the same lines, contrary to popular belief, plenty of women like football. Plenty. So, if you’re a big, tall-@ss man and your seat is in front of a chick, you need to get the fuck out of the way. I don’t care how you do it, but you need to do it. There is really no amount of neck contortion a woman behind a man can do to see the game. It’s probably easier for a guy to duck down a bit and still see what’s going on than anything else. Plus, men are often the first ones who want to stand up in everybody’s way when something happens, and it’s just thoughtless to stand whenever you feel like it vs out of necessity, regardless of sex…but especially so if a woman or kid is sitting behind you.

Stated another, perhaps more acceptable way–be courteous to those around you. You know how expensive seats are, and 9 times out of 10 the person behind you is a fellow fan of the same team, particularly if you’re at a home game. If we’re on the same side, let’s act like it. If we’re not on the same side, let’s show some class anyways. Same goes for noticing whether or not a kid is near you, because plenty of people take young people to these games.

3) Don’t act like you’re the offensive or defensive coordinator. Now, I’m a little guilty of this, admittedly. But there just always seems to be one or two white guys in your section who just have to be heard and just have to spend at least 30% of the game coaching loudly from, like, row 45. If you were the coach, you wouldn’t be in row 45; you’d be on the sideline. If you want to encourage the defense on a critical 3rd down, that’s fine–“come on, D, get an interception” is not coaching. Nobody cares. But if people actually turn back and look at you after something comes out of your mouth, that’s a sign you need to hush. You’re either “encouraging” too often, too loudly or you’re coaching without being on the payroll.

4) Sit in your seat. Don’t be partially in the next seat, and don’t have your @ss hanging all off the back of the bench. My knees really don’t belong in your @ss, especially if you have pink bumps all over it like this one dude at the Michigan game did…dude, I’m glad it turned out I was in the wrong seat, or else who knows what kind of ointment I would have ended up needing for my knees after the game…

5) Sit the fuck down. Yeah, I know I already listed this one, but I can’t stress it enough.

Other tips:

-Taking pictures…okay, this one goes with just the general idea I have tried to stress in several points above about being in the way, blocking people’s view and being courteous. You don’t have to hold both arms 100% in the air in order to get a good pic, especially if everyone would just do as I said and sit the fuck down until absolutely necessary. I take pics and record videos, too, but the phone/camera really should not be above your forehead, if it can be helped, because then you’re blocking other people’s view. And arms/elbows should come into your body, not be all out to the sides or up in the air.

-Drinking and eating, including getting drunk…now, I have never had these issues at a football game, but if you’re eating and drinking you’ve got to take care not to get schitt on other people. In fact, to me, as cramped as the space was at the Michigan-ND game, people shouldn’t even have been trying to eat or drink in the stands. I mean, I can’t even move my arms, but the fucker beside me is having a good ole time with, like, a hotdog and a beverage. You’re not at home. All that body movement–bending over to pick up stuff, bending your elbow out to bring a drink to your lips, etc–infringes on other people’s space. Plus, it’s common sense to me to just eat before the damn game, especially a night game.

-I don’t know what to say about alcohol…I don’t think we can drink at Michigan Stadium, so people get drunk before a night game. Luckily, I wasn’t near any drunk people during the game, and I’m sure they can be obnoxious during the game. But some drunk Notre Dame fan was harassing me and my cabbie earlier on gameday. Rivalry games are #1 to me, more important than winning championships. It’s fun to hate other teams, other schools, people with the wrong color on (okay, that makes me sound like I’m in a street gang…really, Michigan is a college gang). But getting drunk and then harassing other fans…[shakes her head]. If I seriously harass a fan of another team, I’m going to be a wimp about it and do it online anonymously while 100% in my right mind; I’m not going to do it out in the open (drunk or not) or without mainly joking. That’s why I hate Michigan State fans more than Ohio State fans–OSU fans actually tend to be more cool to Michigan fans in person vs the @ssholes that MSU fans are.

But what to do about this? You can’t make people not get drunk; it’d probably be easier to make people sit the fuck down. And you definitely can’t control drunk people; gametime etiquette would be the farthest thing from their mind.

-Listen, I went to ESPN’s College GameDay on campus earlier on Saturday, and I went to the game later on Saturday. It was hot and humid all day, and I spent well over 7 hours outdoors. So, to be perfectly frank…I am sure I was guilty of not smelling all that good during the game. I realized during the game, “Yeah, I should have cleaned up a bit before the game.” Anybody going to an outdoor football game needs to be mindful before they leave home that they might assault people around them with funk and take all preventative measures. Next time, I’ll remember. Sorry to those who sat near me…

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The Three Years That Changed My Life

I talk a lot of schitt about college. It is a bitter topic for me, and I try pretty hard to convince young people not to go because no one grabbed me and told me I shouldn’t go. It sounds odd because, for decades, adults have been grabbing young people and telling them why they should go to college. It’s just that I found first hand with both college and then graduate school that the things adults tell young people when they grab them aren’t quite true anymore. College dropouts become rich CEOs (or rich rappers with aptly-titled CDs, not to mention slut-wives) while people who see college through end up in debt for at least 10 years while getting a starting salary of maybe $25,000/yr or $30,000/yr…whenever they’re lucky enough to even find a job.

At the same time…I have a hard time reconciling this knowledge/experience with the other experiences I gained from attending college and grad school, not to mention how to reconcile it with the respect I have for education and academic institutions in general. In fact, I can honestly say that grad school had a profound effect on my life. It changed my life, for better and for worse.

I skipped out on work Monday, and my mother and I went several places. One of them was a store that sells all college gear, particularly for sports fans. I’m always up for buying schitt that reps the University of Michigan (I damn-near have Michigan everything), which was my grad school–the school that changed my life. After we returned home, my mother and I were talking about how she, my father and my oldest sister lived in the San Francisco area before I was born. It was interesting that this came up, because I had been thinking a lot about something recently. This led me to tell my mother something no one knows about me.

Everyone who has known me for long enough knows I love Michigan. Love Michigan.

But Stanford is my dream school. It was my dream school when I headed to Michigan. If I could think of a reason to go to Stanford and afford it right now, I would. And as much as I liked Michigan, had I gotten accepted to Stanford for law school as well, that’s where I would have gone. Of course, the three best law schools in the nation rejected me (Harvard, Yale, Stanford); I very nearly had my choice of top law schools aside from those. The only other school that felt “right” aside from Stanford was Michigan. So, despite the better scholarship offers from other schools and the questioning from fellow Southerners, I went to Michigan.

My mother’s response–to my mentioning that I didn’t get into Stanford and that was the only reason my parents didn’t end up taking trips back to the SF area for [at least] three years instead of to Ann Arbor for three years–was something along the lines, of course, of “everything happens for a reason.”

Oh, of course. I know Michigan happened for a reason. I wouldn’t trade my time at Michigan for Stanford. Would I trade it for less debt, to get back the debt it put me in? That’s a tougher question, it really is.

See, among many things, Michigan is, for me:

-Where I realized I could actually be friends with other women

-Where I fell in love with sports

-Where I truly accepted that I am, and started identifying as, a lesbian

-Where I learned that college towns–not suburbs, not the country and definitely not cities–are right for me

-Where I found the only “community” to which I 100% love belonging (um, sorry, blacks and LGBTs and women)

-Where I really began to recognize, love and appreciate the black or African-descent woman, as well as her beauty

And it’s not all positive experiences.

I suffered from depression for at least a semester while I was at Michigan, which led to my seeing a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist was one of my friends, but we still had real sessions. It’s interesting–for much of my life growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist…got my psych degree. Never once did I think that people could walk out of counseling sessions feeling worse than when they entered them, but that’s how I felt after every session with my friend/psychotherapist–every…single…one. Needless to say, that’s not how I recovered from depression…but that’s a story for another time. 😉

I also had a racial experience at Michigan that is the base reason for why I just don’t view white women in a romantic light/as a romantic option anymore and probably never will again. Obviously, you can’t make an entire race/sex carry the burden for something that happened with one person of that background, and that’s not really the case here…but it got the ball rolling, I learned a lot about the deep lack of understanding between black people and white people (of each other, not just white people not understanding blacks), and now I’m where I am. I must say that, although I wouldn’t quite say I’m glad the experience happened, it was good for me in some ways. Out of it grew the way I now see black women, which is a way in which I didn’t quite view them before. And I think it’s important for black women to completely see other black women’s worth, beauty, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. If we can’t see it, who can/will?

And obviously, it goes without saying that being in debt for the rest of my life is not anything positive that Michigan gave me.

But even out of these three negative experiences came a lot of learning, very important learning and experiences. I went through everything and then some at Michigan–really could have a TV series based off it…we’ll call it “Ann Arbor 48109” or “Michigan Law”–whereas my college experience was relatively uneventful.

I mentioned one of the things I gained from Michigan was a love of sports. I even did some sports writing on the side. Well…people who don’t understand sports or diehard fans or why fans and experts get so emotional…they often ask about it. One of the things I try to articulate, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, is my belief that love for a particular sport or team usually doesn’t develop from the sport/team. To me, there is usually something else–being from a particular city or state, the people around you, the school you attend. First and foremost, I love my school because of everything I went through there, everything it made me, everything it taught me. And that led me to support my school in whatever, be it sports or anything else. It’s the reason why I will watch garbage like baseball from time to time or softball (which…softball, for some reason, I actually like now)–if it’s Michigan playing, I will watch.

My favorite sports are football and basketball. I grew up playing basketball, and my family is a basketball family. My father has basketball championships. But I hated football growing up. After attending Michigan, a huge football school, football is my favorite sport. I didn’t suddenly become interested in guys running for three yards and passing for 15 yards just because it was interesting. It never was, originally. Truthfully, if it’s the NFL, it’s still not interesting greater than 50% of the time. I just don’t have that NFL equivalent to Michigan, no emotional connection. I hate where I’m from, so why would I root for my state’s NFL team?

Michigan is why I like college football and why that’s my favorite sport. And the love I have for my school is why losses are so painful–particularly certain ones. Any loss to Ohio State or Michigan State (rivals). The loss to Indiana in basketball earlier this year that cost Michigan a conference championship…that still brings tears to my eyes because of the way it happened. Even my father cursed and was angry after Michigan lost that game, and he, being an SEC guy, likes to pretend he is not a Michigan fan (he is). There are other Michigan losses I could reference using just two words, and [college] sports fans would know what I’m talking about–Appalachian State and Time Out. Horrific and horrific. We (Michigan) have the most legendary fails in college sports, for real, so you can’t blame me for feeling pain. But we are also among the most successful programs in college sports, so you can’t blame me for feeling pride, either.

So, would I want to give all of this back for, oh, $100,000? I don’t know who I’d be without all of this.

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The Media Is Changing, For Better and For Worse

I was at work today trying to find a way to amuse myself, as usual, when I found that daily thought-provoking link. This was incredibly timely, given that I just applied for some sports writing positions.

Now, I know that I have some readers who are either not from the US or who seem to be a little bit more Europeanized than Americanized. I also know that such people tend not to “get” Americans’ deal with sports, particularly American football. If they like anything, it’s often garbage sports like soccer. So, I’ll try my best to make this something you can recognize.

You don’t have to read the whole link above. The short of it is someone wrote to a very successful sports journalist for advice on how to get into sports media as a career, and the sports journalist allegedly responded. For the purposes of my post, really, the most essential thing the alleged author of the email says is this:

Most of my good friends who are columnists for major newspapers and 
websites or work as anchors or commentators on ESPN also are not fans and 
also don’t take sports very seriously. 

You CANNOT be a fan of a team, or even a sport, and do this job 
effectively. I care little what my alma mater, Tennessee, does in sports. 
If you are a fan, it tempers everything you write and say. Again, my 
friends who are award-winning sports columnists in Los Angeles, Dallas, New 
York, Chicago and other cities are much more interested in writing, reading, 
the theater, history, and they have a passion for doing the job, not a 
passion for the subject. 

If you do read the whole thing, I would say that most of what the author wrote is gold. And, certainly, it is beyond me why anyone would want to be a sports writer if he/she doesn’t love to write. Writing was probably my first love. Sports writing or not, I will always write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about or if it’s just a personal blog or what I officially do for a living.

But I think the excerpt above reflects yet another basic generational misunderstanding. In other words, this guy is “old” and increasingly out of touch, at least on a couple of points.

See, I think most of us recognize that “media” is rapidly becoming less professional, less airtight, more technology-based…and more biased. Almost every time I watch ESPN, I see a member of the sports media who clearly seems biased. And some of them have, more or less, confirmed they have some bias. I don’t think anyone who follows college football on ESPN doubts that Kirk Herbstreit loves the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he really doesn’t try to hide it. He played football for the school, so I don’t have a problem with this–especially since he is one of the college football analysts whose opinion I look forward to hearing most. I think he’s a very good analyst. But he’s biased. He’s a fan.

Not just to pick on rival Ohio State–let me whip out examples from my Michigan Wolverines.

About USA Today sports writer and fellow Wolverine Nicole Auerbach, taken right from her little bio on the site:

Nicole Auerbach joined USA TODAY in the fall of 2011 to oversee online college basketball coverage. She’s a New Jersey native and a big fan of Big Ten football and basketball. She firmly believes Madness need not be limited to just March.

For those of you who don’t know, our Michigan is in the Big Ten conference. That’s probably why she’s a Big Ten fan, and I know that’s why I’m a Big Ten fan.

And this is from Chantel Jennings, another Michigan Wolverine, from her days at The Michigan Daily. She is now a sports writer over at espn.com for WolverineNation:

…[I]n four years, I’ve gone from being a premed student to an English major, I’ve been an activist, a GDI, a sorority girl, back to a GDI, an almost-IM sports champion, a volunteer in prisons, a basketball coach, a Spaniard, a Daily writer, a Daily photographer, a student and a Michigan fanI’ve done my best to separate myself from being a fan at the events I covered. But as I sat on the baseline at the Duke/Michigan basketball game this year, I wanted to tell Coach Beilein that I think he’s a great coach. More importantly, I wanted to tell him I think he’s a good man.

Bleck. Beilein. A discussion for another day. Anyways. Moving on…one more example.

Dana Jacobson, a former ESPN anchor, took being a Michigan fan/alum a bit too far by taking a huge dig at another one of our rivals, Notre Dame:

Sources have confirmed that Jacobson, a co-host of “First Take” on ESPN2, currently is serving a one-week suspension because of her behavior at a Jan. 11 roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic at Atlantic City, N.J…Jacobson reportedly said “F*** Notre Dame,” “F*** Touchdown Jesus,” and “F*** Jesus” in an attempt to talk trash to Mike and Mike co-host Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame football player.

Yes, we take these rivalries seriously, people. I, myself, have trashed rival Michigan State in writing before just because they’re our rival (well…and because they beat us, which is unacceptable).

Here’s the thing:

Biases and a lack of professionalism in journalism are not just in sports journalism. And bad writing in journalism is growing in part because more and more people have access to some type of journalistic platform. And sorry, but blogs have somewhat become journalistic platforms. Why, several major sports companies in the US have bloggers. That’s because these companies are smart enough to see the way technology is changing the media and journalism, and they are rolling with it instead of fighting it and applying old standards, a la “you can’t be a fan” and “you can’t make it writing for some online blog.”

I have to lament this on one hand and thank it on another, because I guarantee you I would have no hope of being a professional sports writer otherwise. Another one of those writers over at WolverineNation came from a blog, and the blog from which he came is run by a guy who has gotten opportunities outside of that blog–a guy who is a respected, widely-accepted source by pretty much everyone in sports when it comes to Michigan sports, particularly Michigan football. Oh, yeah…also pretty sure he’s a Michigan fan. Giving fans journalistic access is all the rage right now, and I don’t think that’s going to stop. And obviously, some of these fans are going to write well enough and report well enough to get bigger and better opportunities.

But there are times when I watch journalists–any kind–interviewing someone, and I’m just sitting there thinking, “This person is an ass.” And I’m thinking that because the journalist is showing too much of a bias. I am not too young to remember when journalists used to calmly ask questions and just sit there and listen to the responses. The response was for the public to render a verdict on–it wasn’t for the journalist to do that. The journalists are there to find the truth and bring the public access to knowledge. But nowadays, the journalists are sitting there judging, and they come into the interview with their minds made up about the people they interview. They don’t hide it well, either. And so the interviews sometimes come off more as attacks, not interviews.

Being a sports fan, I read a lot of sports sources. I used to read AOL FanHouse, which is now rolled into Sporting News. Apparently, Sporting News ditched a lot of the FanHouse writers. Since I like to write sports pieces and since I like to think of myself as mature, I rarely respond to sports pieces with any sort of personal attack on the writer–typical behavior for sports fans. But I probably complained at least half the time in FanHouse comments about the writers. Why? They sucked. One thing fans love to comment is “I can do your job.” FanHouse was the one place I ever wrote anything like that. Pieces always had grammar, spelling and/or factual errors. I’d bet you the writers Sporting News axed were the ones I complained about. Most sports fans whine about the content of sports pieces, but my gripe is almost always the quality of the writing if I’m complaining. Unfortunately, there are now plenty of writers out there–not just in sports–who can’t write and also aren’t being edited well. So, I will give that to the writer of the email all the way at the beginning of this post.

I will also give him that it’s challenging to be a fan, have biases and–if you want to be good at what you do and be fair–be a good sports writer. Hopefully, it’s not impossible. But his email is not the first time I’ve thought about that issue. I thought about it while writing on my college football blog, and I thought about it while watching guys like Kirk Herbstreit on TV who clearly had their team and conference allegiances.

So, I did something that I found myself wishing others in sports media would just come out and do:

I admitted my biases to my readers. In plain English.

I’m a Michigan fan and a Michigan alum, so it goes without saying that I have issues with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

I also just do not like USC and Florida. I just don’t.

I’m a Big Ten fan, so I don’t like the SEC. The Big Ten/SEC thing is a sports version of the North vs the South. I’m from the South and everything, but my loyalty is to my school and the schools with which it is aligned. I also just happen to not like anything that is shoved down my throat, and the sports media does an excellent job of shoving the SEC down everyone’s throat. By the same token, I can’t stand LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and if Tom Brady weren’t a Wolverine I probably wouldn’t be able to stand him.

So, there you have it. I would repeat this little list on any sports job I get if allowed, just for the purpose of full disclosure. Has this admission freed me in my writing? Not entirely. I have had all kinds of issues with admitting that the SEC is the best conference in college football. I am just now developing the ability to admit this, and the SEC has probably been the best conference over the past 5 or 6 years.

But I have written that college football needs Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and Florida to be elite teams, and that I respect Ohio State and Notre Dame. My second favorite team behind Michigan is Wisconsin, and Wisconsin lost a game at the last second to the hated Michigan State last year. At the end of the season, I wrote that this game was the second best game of the season (after TCU-Baylor, two teams I couldn’t care less about, personally). And once, I received a message from someone who said they liked my writing because I am more down-to-earth than other Michigan fans…in other words, I don’t have all this blind loyalty when it comes to Michigan. Michigan’s a popular pick when it comes to winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl this coming football season. But I don’t hesitate to tell any and everybody that Michigan will probably lose more games this season than they did last season, won’t play in any BCS bowl and Michigan State will likely win the Big Ten (which probably will include yet another win over Michigan, at which point I will vomit…er, in private).

In other words, it’s like Jennings wrote in the Daily–some of us are fans, i.e. biased, but anyone in the media–or trying to be–needs to separate from bias and exercise the utmost professionalism.

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