Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The HSR Guide for Incoming Freshmen: The Michigan Football Fan

We at the Hoover Street Rag want to make sure that the Michigan Class of 2011 is well served by the Michigan blog community, and we have decided to write up a few guides for incoming freshmen. We're not saying that they are perfect, complete, or even totally accurate, but we're hoping we can do what we can to ease the transition.

0). A presumption.

It is a presumption that this guide will make that we are speaking to the incoming freshmen to Michigan who is not well-versed in Michigan lore and tradition. If you grew up following the Maize and Blue and knowing that you wanted to go to Michigan, this guide is not aimed at you (however, we encourage you to submit additions and corrections to us in the comments section.) We're also presuming that if you're taking time to read this that you're actually going to care about Michigan football.

1). Your Saturdays for the first semester of school are gone.

At some point during your freshman year, you're going to think to yourself "Hey, it's OK, I can just put this off to the weekend." No. You can't. You can probably get away with putting some things off until Sunday, but for eight of the first twelve Saturdays of your college life, you're going to be staring down a game at the Big House and that is a full day affair. Similarly, you're going to find out that even though you'll likely be done by 3:30 in terms of the game, standing and watching for three and a half hours takes way more out of you than you think. You're likely going to end up going back to your room, chilling out, getting some dinner, and watching ABC Saturday Night College Football. I have to say, this is not the worst way to go. Road games give you a little more leeway, but remember to find the person with the biggest television possible and make friends with the immediately. It's as important as making friends with the guy/girl who has the car and the parking permit.

We also need to mention that in looking at the schedule, the very likely possibility of the three straight 3:30 starts in September are absolutely going to demolish your day, even more so than usual. You'll end up sleeping later, you'll kill some more time before the game, and be absolutely exhausted by the time the game's over to the point where you will get back to your room and crash, even if you wanted to watch the late game.

2). You need a Saturday game plan.

As most games start at noon, you're going to need to get up no later than 9:00 AM, you're going to want to make sure you know the weekend bus schedule (Bursleyites, we're looking at you. It's a total rookie mistake, one we made ourselves) and you'll want to be on Central Campus no later than 11:00 AM. Why? Because part of the joy of game day at Michigan is just soaking in the atmosphere, taking in the festival of sorts that happens on campus.

You're going to want to make sure you eat breakfast (even something light) and especially for the early season games, you're going to make sure you need to hydrate and that you wear sun block. (Do not fool yourself, just because the calendar says September that sun beats down upon you like it’s the middle of July. Very rarely do you get a September game with cloud cover, last year's Central Michigan game notwithstanding.)

You need to make sure you have a spot where you're going to meet up with your seatmates so you can all head in together (strength in numbers, especially if you have squatters.) This, admittedly, is much easier in the era of cell phones than it was nigh on a decade ago, but still, it's good to have a starting point. We recommend the steps of the Michigan Union, the bus shelter right next to the steps (if you don't want to get into the masses), or the ATM on the north side of the intersection of Packard and State. Your decision will likely come based on a calculation of where all of you reside.

(Geoff would like it noted, and I do second it: Anyone who gets to the stadium after the band has taken the field deserves to be tarred and feathered. Period.)

Your Saturday game plan will evolve. You're going to meet people; you’re going to figure out things that work better for you and things that didn't work. But you need to go in to this with some kind of plan to start with.

3). Game day rituals.

This is mostly about the nature of fandom, so some of you may find this utterly silly, but bear with me. If you have something lucky, you must wear it to every game until Michigan loses in your presence. The student shirt does not count, because everyone is expected to wear that. It just has to be something that you do that gets into the luck run. We're not saying you, specifically, will be the reason that Michigan's dreams of an undefeated season come to an end, but do you want that lingering suspicion in the back of your mind that it was your fault. (Note: this does not apply to away games.)

4). Don't do anything stupid.

Forgive us for sounding a little paternalistic here, but we like to think it's more about the voice of experience ringing through. You're going to be getting your first true taste of freedom in college, and well, there is a tendency to confuse that freedom with the right to do something utterly stupid. We don't recommend it. We've seen far too many people do stupid things in their lives in college which they would come to later regret. Now, are we saying you shouldn't have any fun, no, not at all. What we're saying is that you should not think just because you can do a thing that it necessarily follows that you must do that thing. Don't let your friends talk you in to doing something you don't want to do, if you have to be the voice of reason for your group, so be it. To wit, do you really want to be the guy/girl who left the '04 MSU game because all his friends wanted to get ready for a party? There will be other parties, there will not be other comebacks like that. (There are other higher level examples here, many involving illicit activity, but we'll leave it to the reader's fertile imagination to see where we're going with this.)

We know damn well we sound like old men here, but we just don’t like the idea of regret and Michigan football being tied together.

Lastly, we realize that we're just a couple of "old guys", and we probably don't "get it". So we'd like to encourage any of you reading to post your own tips in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

Up at 9 am for a noon game? That seems to be suggesting passive fandom. Perhaps that's why The Big House is so quiet. You should be preaching about getting out there before the sun comes up, about maintaining a slow and steady approach to pre-game drinking so that you are at exactly the right point when you enter the stadium, and the virtue of duct tape and mini-bottles.

Craig Barker said...

To advocate drinking to incoming freshmen would be irresponsible. A true Michigan fan does not need to drink before the game to enjoy it. if they choose to do so, that is their business.

Paul said...

7am is usually my preferred time to wake up on football Saturdays.

I remember for the OSU game my sophomore year there was a coordinated push by the Daily and other campus media to increase the noise. One suggested way was to bring an *unopened* water bottle (if it's open the vests won't let it in) and some loose change. You can drink the water and get nice and hydrated. By the end of the first quarter you have a fairly loud noisemaker.

It's not the most refined thing to do, but imagine every student in the student section with one of those shaking it like a poloroid picture on the third and two. That would totally own the keys.

Jeremy said...

Paul, enough people actually did that that I could hear it from across the stadium. It wasn't a deafening rattle, but it certainly made a difference.

Unknown said...

I think that choosing to believe that they won't drink is naive. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen students taken out of games - either by their friends or security - because they were too drunk. Though I now live in Athens, GA and the tailgating culture down here is more prevalent than it was for my college game days in Ann Arbor, I always try and offer some sage, old man advice to any group of students I see who are chugging the Crown Royal or Jim Beam a little too fast at 8 am. Slow and steady wins the race.

burgler said...

A couple of notable points from my own experience:

1. I hope others cover the "3rd Down Keys" issue in more depth. I personally dislike it, but find the claw similarly hokey. I haven't been back in A2 in a couple years though, so perhaps a better solution has been concocted.

2. Two Words: Step Show.

3. Dress the Part. My game day dress, which worked for 3 years of football as well as 4 years of hockey, was a navy blazer, blue shirt, blue and gold tie, and khakis. Being nicely dressed smoothed things over with ushers and other authority figures. The coat also allowed me to smuggle in a blow-up doll for the 2003 OSU game.

4. Mind the weather. Dress in layers, and always be alert to the possibility of OT. The 2004 MSU game may have started off brilliantly sunny and hot, but people were buying blankets from the M-Den on the 50 by the end. Just tie a sweatshirt around your waist for later games, it might come in handy.

5. Don't just restrict your gameday experience to the area immediately surrounding the stadium. On a cool fall morning, nothing beats heading out Huron River Drive to the Dexter Cider Mill, getting some fresh hot cider and donuts, and rolling back into town for the game. Also take advantage of the other athletic events on gamedays. Your ticket stub usually gets you admission to a lesser-attended sporting event later in the day. [shameless plug alert] The men's rowing team also races OSU on the Huron whenever the buckeyes come to A2. Free Michigan athletics abound, and just because the football game is the main event doesn't mean they should be neglected.

6. Don't punch a police horse, like a kid I know did (I now live in Madison, in case you're curious). Yes, alcohol was a factor.

Coelacanth said...

How sweet and appropriate it is that an article about being a Michigan fan begins with the word Presumption.

Anonymous said...

Wake up around 7 a.m.
Drink in the shower.
Wear maize.
Have several drinks before leaving dorm room.
Walk to frat parties on State St. or friends' tailgates.
Continue drinking.
Play football.
Play beer pong.
Listen to loud music.
Eat something (optional).
Finish keg.
Walk to the game without being arrested.

Anonymous said...

-Up by 8:30.
-To my friends place on State St. by 9:00.
-Grilling by 9:15
-Pull the TV out to the front yard by 9:30.
-Various drinking games 9:30-10:50
-Leave for the stadium at 11:00
-Stop by and say hey to my parents who tailgate next to the stadium.
-At my seats by 11:15.
-Watch the stadium fill up until kick off.
-That last 45 minuets is by far the best part of my week.