Saturdays at The Big House

Let’s Go Blue!

Have you ever been to a college football game on a crisp autumn day? Been packed cheek-to-cheek with over 100,000 crazed fans inside a packed coliseum? Seen a marching band take the field with practiced precision? If so, then you are one of the thousands of college football fans who pack stadiums every weekend across America. I did not attend Michigan, but I have been a fan since the seventies. When a crazy guy named Bo used to prowl the sidelines screaming at the players, coaches, and refs. Good times. While I have become ambivalent about the team lately, there are a few things I enjoy more than the atmosphere surrounding college football. And nobody does it better than The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

After many years of trial and error, my wife and I have refined our system. Leave two hours before game time, catch the shuttle bus from the Wyndham to the stadium, bypassing all the traffic and parking frustration. However, there are pros and cons to this approach. On the plus side, you get to chit-chat with fellow Wolverines along the way. The down-side is that we’re packed in as tight as a sardines and we all explode out of it at Gate 2, like a paper snake out of a can. It’s all part of the experience. Hey, at least I didn’t have to negotiate all that traffic. Those bus drivers have it down to a science.

A B-52 Bomber does a flyover, scaring the crap out of anyone who doesn’t see it coming. All part of the show. A quick walk to Section 8 and we’re ready for some football. Despite the section number, I don’t think these fans are any crazier than the rest of The Big House crowd. Since the line to get in is rather long, we stop for pop and pizza before joining the mob. Our friend John’s seats are in the corner of the end zone, and we’re fortunate enough to see Michigan score on their first drive against Iowa. The place goes nuts. However, on this Saturday, Iowa was the favorite, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did. UM wins 10-3! Go Blue!

Since it was Homecoming Weekend, the game had the added attraction of watching senior cheerleaders doing their thing. I’m not talking about the kids who are graduating this year, I’m referring to senior citizens in their seventies and eighties. They always do some sort of locomotive cheer I can never quite figure out. However, one old guy did a handstand and held it for what seemed like thirty seconds. Wow! After the game, the Iowa fans leave The Big House dejected, again. We hop on the bus Gus and head back to our car. All in all, it was another picture-perfect fall day, with another big win for the Wolverines. What could be better? Wait, is that some cider and donuts? 

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Why Do Sports Matter So Much?

After All, It’s Only A Game

It’s been another Rivalry Week here in Southeast Michigan (I can never say that without sounding like Elmer Fudd). The Michigan vs Michigan State trash talk has reached epic levels. This leads me to ask the question, “Why do sports matter so much?” I can understand if you are an alumnus of one of these schools. However, people like me, who never attended either school, can be rabid fans as well. For the record, I am pulling for Michigan tomorrow. Crazy stuff always seems to happen in this game, so we’ll see what happens. (Michigan won 21-7, boo-ya!)

I used to let my obsession with our local sports teams eat me alive. The Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons, and of course the pitiful Lions, all had the ability to drive me crazy. My wife would hear me screaming at the TV from the other room, and I could almost hear her roll her eyes. Then one day, I had an epiphany and I realized I was taking it all way too personally. How could something like a last-second goal, that beat the Red Wings again, affect my life in any way? The answer was, of course, it couldn’t. I ceased to care about any of our teams,  It took many years, but I have finally kicked the habit. However, I still root for Michigan Football and Hockey. Hey, I’m only human.

I remember the day I stopped caring about the Lions.  It was December 30, 1995. The Lions were heavily favored against the Eagles in the playoffs. After the Cryin’ Lions were down 21-0 on four plays, it hit me. Why am I getting so upset over this? Life’s too short! So I turned off the TV and took a nap. After I woke up, I went outside, raked some leaves, and enjoyed the cool fall evening. The freedom of not being a slave to the outcome of a silly game was liberating. Don’t get me wrong. I still occasionally watch a game with my wife, but I don’t block out three hours of my life to watch the Tigers lose in dramatic fashion, again. It’s really liberating. Give it a try. There’s a whole big, beautiful world out there! Go spend some time in it!

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