Sunday, October 12, 2008

Overheard in the Student Section: Toledo

Photo courtesy of The Detroit News


Something just didn't seem right from the start. We arrived at our seats five minutes to noon, and entire blocks of the student section were completely empty. Kickoff came and went, but still many of those seats remained unfilled. Unless I was unaware that Saturday was "Disguise Yourself As a Blue Metal Bench Day", something was amiss.

As for the noise, well, there was little to speak of. I realize that it's hard to put your heart and soul behind a struggling team, but I'm pretty sure Northwestern fans would have been disgusted with the sound output of our student section. There was one kid, standing a row in front of us, who did his best to encourage our section to yell on every defensive play, to do something to help a team that found itself struggling with a 1-4 MAC squad. People looked at him like he had nine heads.

We all know what happened. Steven Threet gifted Toledo a 100-yard touchdown, Nick Sheridan remained Nick Sheridan, and K.C. no longer stands for Kicking Consistency. Now we're 2-4, desperately trying to figure out how we'll win another game, with our bowl streak tenuously hanging by the thinnest of threads and our undefeated record against the MAC shattered like a Bee Gees record on Disco Demolition Night. Holy Toledo, indeed.

But what disappoints me almost as much as our play is the complete lack of support coming from the player's own peers. I was talking on Friday to a woman who works with me at the Michigan Union who is close with many current and former players, all of whom will remain nameless for the sake of this post. After the Wisconsin game, she said at least four current and former players all separately expressed their disappointment in the fans who booed the team after the first half. Not only that, but the bile coming from the fans doesn't stop after the game is over. Students actually have the gall to walk up to players on campus and tell them, in so many words, that they aren't happy with their play on the field. People may not realize it, but these guys actually listen.

This is not a plea to stop booing in order to not hurt these players feelings. However, you have to wonder how hard these guys want to play for a student body in which seemingly 25% of the ticket holders don't show up to games, and half of those that do spend the entire 60 minutes exploring uses for every possible variation of the word "fuck". This may be a lost season from a Big Ten standpoint, but these players still have to show up for six more games, including two more at home. They can't just go "fuck it" and walk out on this season, not unless they want to throw away lifelong dreams of NFL millions, thousands of hours of work, and a huge part of their identity. Our "fans", however, seem to have no such qualms about doing just that, and I doubt that's helping our team in what is already an incredibly trying season.

My one quote for this game comes from the bitter end, overheard as I was ascending the stadium steps towards the exit, readying for a dreary walk to campus followed by a postgame ritual of crappy Chinese food and a much-needed nap. I didn't want to hear anything else. The sound of the stadium announcer proclaiming "Final Score: Toledo 13, Michigan 10" was more than enough for me. Then I heard it:

"I hate to be The Right Guy, but I'm The Right Guy."

It was said so joyfully, with so much pride in the speaker's own greatness and glory, that it HAD to come from someone wearing a Toledo shirt. I was almost too scared to look back, in fear that I would lose what little faith I have left in Michigan fans. Sure enough, I turned to see a guy decked out in Michigan gear, smiling like he had just bet the farm on a Toledo victory. Just to rub it home, he repeated the same statement three more times during the 40-row ascent out of the Big House. I remember the number, because that's how many times I had to count to ten and resist the urge to knock the motherfucker straight to Row B. He capped off his Chronicles of Douchebaggery with a simple "Rich Rod sucks," before disappearing to wherever people without souls go (probably Pike).

I tend to think of myself as a rational, level-headed guy, but at that point I really hoped that man's night would end with a slow ride in an ambulance. My emotions have settled down a bit since then. Now I only wish he is subjected to the kind of toture detailed at the beginning of the song "Method Man" (I'd post a link, but I have relatives who occasionally read this blog, and I'd like to continue to be on speaking terms with them). Hey, it's better than death. Barely.

In all seriousness, I have no respect for you if you take joy in watching your team lost just because it makes you right. Do us all a favor and just stay home next time. I'm sure your friends in Round One of the Ninth Circle of Hell will enjoy your company (and yes, I have actually read Dante, so save it). But before you go, try to sell your ticket to someone who actually cares about Michigan football, if there are any of them left.


Ace said...

This wasn't quite deserving of its own post, but a few people in the last day have reached the blog by searching something along the lines of "start Feagin".


Anonymous said...

Props for the Inferno allusion.