Theo Mackie, Managing Sports Editor, The Michigan Daily
For the first time since I was in kindergarten, The State News won’t lose to The Michigan Daily this year.
Every fall for longer than I’ve been alive, the newspapers have faced off in a game of touch football. And for nearly that long — 15 years to be precise — The Daily has won every time, leaving The State News repeating a familiar refrain: “You won’t do it again next year.” All it took for them to be right was a global pandemic.
So in lieu of the traditional scheduling on the Friday night before Michigan plays Michigan State, we’ve had to get creative. Before Ann Arbor issued a stay-at-home order, here’s how The Daily dealt with the threat of a global pandemic: We started practicing at the beginning of the month with a max of 10 people, wearing masks, doing socially distanced drills and ensuring that nobody had gone to any guideline-breaking gatherings in the past two weeks.
The State News proposed a game of Madden.
I guess we should’ve expected it, though. Creativity during the pandemic hasn’t been their strong suit.
Just take a look at statenews.com.
First story on the sports page, 15th paragraph. “MSU’s defense: a new-look 4-5-2 scheme,” it reads. Ah yes, the 4-5-2 defense, a canonical part of football, along with the famed gunshot formation and goal-field kicking. It makes sense, though, that The State News doesn’t know too much about football. That’d explain their 15 straight losses to The Daily.
Surely, their expertise lies in other sports.
Not so fast. A quick run through their website reveals three women’s basketball stories since April. On the ice hockey page, we learn that the Big Ten season starts on Nov. 13. Thanks for letting us know. You might’ve missed that if you read The Daily. We’ve published 13 hockey stories since then.
When Michigan State cut its swim and dive program on Oct. 22, The State News wrote three stories, one of which came a week later. In their defense, they might have thought the move happened in January, when they most recently covered the team.
Digging deeper, there’s one volleyball story in the last 364 days and one men’s soccer story in the last 343. For women’s soccer, the most recent story is a preview of a game that took place over a year ago, using a picture from 2012 — such ancient history that it’s dated seven days before The State News’ eighth-straight loss to “the paper down the road.”
Since then, all they’ve done is lose seven more, even if they try to weasel out at every turn. This year, it took them 28 days to so much as respond to an email asking about the game. Last year, the excuse was a little too much snow. At The Daily, we’re adults with problem-solving capabilities, so we ceded our home-field advantage and organized a few cars to play the game in Lansing on a couple hours’ notice.
If you thought that’d throw us off our game, you’d be wrong. Final score: Michigan Daily 8, State News 0.
In light of that, I’m excited to see how they justify such persistent losing in this year’s column. After all, that’s one of their few specialties.
Four days ago, they published a column headlined, “MSU losing to Rutgers at home isn’t good, but it could’ve been worse.”
Not really sure it could’ve been, guys. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, so let’s read ahead to the fourth paragraph.
“It was ugly. For Spartan fans, losing to Rutgers probably always will be. But it could’ve been a lot uglier than Saturday’s 11-point loss, a final score that was not indicative of how close the game actually was.”
Oh yes, closer than the score. Just what everyone thinks about a game in which MSU’s drive chart reads: Fumble, fumble, downs, touchdown, interception, fumble, field goal, field goal, fumble, punt, touchdown, downs, punt, fumble, touchdown, interception.
Fortunately for them, The State News won’t have to read a similar drive chart on Friday night.
This year’s game, like so many other good things in life, has been postponed to the spring because of COVID-19. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to play then, safety permitting.
If not, we’ll just get proof of what we’ve known for, I don’t know, 15 years or so: The only way to stop The Daily from winning is if hell freezes over.
Joe Dandron, Senior Football Reporter, The State News
I’m the new guy on the block here.
Not the Block M, I don’t talk about that “School up the Road,” especially when you took a shovel to the turf football field up the road for the annual Daily-State News touch football game last year.
I’m just here to make sure The Daily stays in its place.
I’m a little unfamiliar with The Michigan Daily, especially after I worked for this newspaper during the summer called The Ann Arbor News — U of M students (no, not their football fans) are supposed to be smart, I figured they’d know what it is.
I’m getting off track here.
Just like Jeff Jackson …
But let’s talk about this football game.
As a disclaimer: I haven’t played in the annual game.
Albeit we at The State News finally loaded up the roster to level the playing field — which we still can’t find in Ann Arbor, at least last year we couldn’t — and likely would’ve found our redemption.
Even if it meant playing the entirety of the mostly unpaid staff at the Daily.
But alas, I am unfamiliar, so I reached out to previous State News football writer Jon LeBlanc, who gave me some advice.
He told me to take a look at The Daily homepage, I wish I wouldn’t have after I found this: Michigan men’s basketball for dummies: What you need to know.
Michigan is, as you like to call it, a prestigious university: Since when are the Wolverine’s fans dummies?
I am happy I now know what “in the paint” is. While you’re all busy explaining basketball’s finer details, The State News is busy winning nationwide college media awards, for more meaningful reporting that engages our readers, rather than belittle them.
That award was a Pacemaker, by the way, our 17th to be exact.
We offer our condolences for your lack of recognition.
I don’t know about you but I see a correlation between award-winning newspapers and journalism schools, so maybe you’ll need to get one of those first. You’ll get there someday … maybe!
Even with all 89,453 (a number I have estimated from your website that makes it near impossible to recognize your authors) staff members, y’all can’t keep up can ya? Did I mention I got paid to write this too? I’m not even an editor.
And about that website, your home page hurts my eyes. I don’t know why. I mean you’ve been around since 1890, no one said your website needed to stay in that century.
Website aside, thank god I got a press pass for this weekend’s game to cover it as a reporter. They told me we only could get one, does that mean The Daily has 12?
Did the pandemic also reduce the six of your football writer’s credentials down to just one? I wasn’t sure how your game coverage would go with the limited seating.
We do just fine at The State News, especially covering what’s happening right in the Daily’s backyard. We sent someone to cover a labor strike in your university’s city, while your reporting of Michigan’s capitol right in our backyard looks scarce.
I already know The State News is better, and I just joined this past fall. At least we can cover athletes who get into legal trouble, even if you refuse to do the same.
The Daily has done a good job of covering a lot of things, I will relinquish that.
Sadly, I can’t wish you luck for the Daily-State News game on Friday, but I do wish the Daily luck covering such an unprecedented time in our young lives. Both papers will be recorders of the page in history being written right in front of us, there is honor in that.
Keep the public, your university’s students and citizens of Ann Arbor informed. This is a year that will define our lives as journalists and people for the rest of this century.
We’ve postponed our game until the Spring and don’t get it confused, we are eager to make it happen. We tried to make up for it this Fall in a virtual Madden style, however, you declined and we will take your surrender as you left it.