My parents’ worst nightmare came true last weekend.
As loyal Michigan alums and diehard football fans, they were crushed when the Wolverines dropped their second game of the season on Saturday. But their depression was nothing compared with the fear they felt on Friday when I left for Madison with the rest of the Daily’s football writers.
With two male photographers along for the trip, their little girl was driving almost 400 miles accompanied by five college-aged guys. My dad asked me to assess everything from their driving habits to our sleeping arrangements before we left. At the time, I thought he was being overprotective and little silly.
But looking back, my parents had every reason to be scared.
No, none of the guys tried anything funny (though a couple of them could benefit from retaking driver’s ed). Rather, their behavior so far this season has highlighted a disturbing trend among young men: Chivalry is dead.
Everyone knows Madison is one of the best college towns around, especially if you’re looking to party. The problem is, I’m not quite 21 and I don’t have a fake ID. Football writers Ian Herbert and Gabe Edelson warned me in advance that they would leave me in the hotel room and go to the bar, and I believed them – trust me.
But I didn’t expect them to ditch me at an apartment party in the middle of campus. In their defense, they thought photographer Jason Cooper was going to stay at the party, but the bars were calling his name and he left shortly after the others. Because I had to drive back to the hotel, I couldn’t partake in the partying. So I went outside, sat on a bench and talked on the phone.
Who leaves a female alone in a strange city? For that matter, what kind of friend ditches another friend regardless of gender? I’m not sure, but I can’t say I was surprised when it happened to me. After all, these guys have done it before.
With about five minutes remaining in the Notre Dame game two weeks ago, the four of us decided to head out of the press box and down to the field. I’ll admit that I always take the longest to pack up my notebook and stat sheets, which means I also tend to be the last one to get to the elevator.
I guess all the reporters wanted to leave at the same time that game because the elevator was packed. Ian got in. Then Gabe got in. And finally football writer Matt Venegoni got in – which left no room for poor ole me. But instead of walking out of the elevator and waiting with me, Ian waved good-bye as the doors closed and the three of them ditched me in the press box.
I could forgive and forget if their discourtesy were a one-time event. But then it happened the following week – twice.
All of us think the chicken salad sandwiches are the best food served in the press box, so it was pretty disappointing when there were none to be found before the Eastern Michigan game. At halftime, we decided to see if they had prepared any more, and, to our delight, they had. But by the time we had made our way back to the food, the server told us there were only three left.
I’ll bet you can guess which three of us got sandwiches.
I made a little fuss – and Gabe had planned to get a bratwurst anyway – so I ended up eating my chicken salad in the end, but that’s really not the point. Not one of them even asked me whether I wanted a sandwich before they snatched them up for themselves.
As if that isn’t enough, when we were leaving the Big House after the game, Matt, Gabe and Ian walked together as a group in front of me, excluding me from the conversation and – surprise, surprise – leaving me alone yet again.
Before I make it seem like all guys are rude, I have to point out that there are men associated with the Michigan football program who have manners. Take Lloyd Carr. The first time I met him was at an open practice last March. Two colleagues and I were talking to him about the team when he referred to us as “guys.” Carr looked at me almost immediately and assured me that he didn’t mean to exclude me. Say whatever you want about his coaching – Lloyd Carr is a considerate man.
He could teach Ian, Gabe and Matt a thing or two about being polite.
To be fair, the other football writers really aren’t jerks. Ian and Gabe may have taken the first two showers on Saturday morning, but they only did so after I told them they could. And I’m not mad because I ordered last – after four men – when we stopped for breakfast on Friday. If anything, I like it when people forget about convention and treat me the same way they would treat a man.
I guess my message is this: Hold the door open for anyone – not just women – because it’s polite. If we’ve earned the right to sit in press boxes and enter locker rooms, then men deserve to order first at restaurants every now and then.
And Mom and Dad – don’t worry, I got a bed to myself.
–Wright actually thinks that chivalry is kind of outdated and the other football writers and photographers are really nice guys. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.