A little tired of the lackluster crowd at the Big House? Jingled your keys one too many times on a critical third down? Is the claw starting to get to you?
Yes, no and no? Me too. It would be hard to grow weary of Michigan football and the whole football Saturday experience, even if the crowd’s middling enthusiasm leaves something to be desired.
Still, it is refreshing to venture outside the cozy, 110,000-seat stadium to support the less-watched Wolverines in their respective environs. Although it is a personal goal of mine to make it to a game or meet for every sport (I am currently nowhere near accomplishing this), I can also give you a few reasons as to why it might be beneficial to broaden your Maize-and-Blue horizons:
1. Work off that beer belly – If you thought that the runners were the only ones who darted around those golf courses at cross country meets, think again. At these events, the spectator is not just right next to the action – he can actually participate. Fans hurdle from point to point along the course to see how their favorite runner is progressing. It is critical to know this prior to actually attending a meet, or you are liable to get trampled. Consider yourself warned.
2. Feel like a good Samaritan – Last year, women’s hoops was probably the one sport more depressing than its male counterpart, but with a little more experience under their collective belts, the Wolverines have a shot at redemption. Even if that doesn’t happen, who can resist the effervescent Cheryl Burnett, who stomps in an effort to get Crisler’s miniature crowds up for the game? Plus, it just gives you a nice feeling showing up for a team that has had a rough couple of years. In general, it’s good, wholesome family fun on a Sunday afternoon.
3. Free sauna access – It’s an afternoon in February, and you’re walking down State St… The wind whips about, drying your skin with each gust. Your socks are soaked through with melted snow. Suddenly, you realize that there’s a light on over at Canham Natatorium. You run in, and there’s a swim meet in action. As you warm up in the stands, you can watch the Wolverines race. Really, these athletes are impressively fast, and you’ll pretty much always be able to find a seat.
4. Get your kicks for free – Did I mention that you can watch all of these sports for the low, low price of free? Just show up at the door with an M card, and you’re good to go. An additional bonus is that sometimes they give away free stuff via raffles and cheerleaders throwing things into the audience. Case-in-point: you can win an Xbox at softball games when a grand slam is hit in a designated inning.
5. Unlimited opportunities for procrastination: Sports are, as everyone knows, the ultimate way to avoid doing whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. No sport offers more opportunity for procrastination than college baseball – and Michigan’s team is no exception. With four games in every weekend series, a fan can spend upwards of 12 hours at The Fish. Twelve hours in one weekend. This, of course, is only feasible if you can stand sitting on metal bleachers for that long. Otherwise, bring a cushion. Remaining outside for this extended period of time could also help you get a tan or force you to go to the hospital with hypothermia, depending on which Michigan April weekend you’re talking about.
6. The athletes actually want you there: As a member of a giant Big House crowd, your voice disappears into the masses. Stop by a soccer game, however, and it’s a different story. You can be that Super Fan you’ve admired from afar. So paint up and write a couple of cheers – you’re guaranteed to be heard.
7. Be the leader/founder of a group: Recently, it’s been the trend to start a fan organization for the less prominent sports (M-Zone, M-Pire etc-). But there are still plenty of squads that don’t have one. That’s where you come in. Start the Maize-this or the ‘M’-that. Or you could breath some life into the Bluenatics, the women’s basketball fan club that, after two seasons, has largely dissipated.
As you can see, there is a multitude of perks to supporting some of the less popular sports at Michigan. Although you may not make it to all of them in your time at the University, you’ll still make the stadium a little bit louder and make the crowd estimations a little bit higher. Then again, maybe you won’t – it’s a commonly held theory that they use random-number generators to come up with those.
If you would like to attend a volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, golf, water polo or tennis event with Megan Kolodgy, just let her know. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.