The University is certainly a fine academic institution with
years of tradition and prestige to back it up. But let’s face
it — for many students out there, Michigan just isn’t
Michigan without its sports.

Weekend Magazine
The Michigan football team enters the field against the Indiana Hoosiers (TONY DING/Daily)

This campus — and this town — lives for its
athletics, and that’s evident by the fact that many view
Football Saturday as the finest tradition in Ann Arbor.

There really is nothing that can compare to the sights and
sounds of football in the fall here in Ann Arbor. Tailgates,
marching bands and students out of bed before noon on a Saturday
aren’t things that happen with great frequency. Maybe
that’s why those six or seven weekends between September and
November feel so special to those who get the chance to experience
it.

“I think my favorite part of Football Saturday has got to
be those 20 minutes to first kickoff,” LSA sophomore Nick
Benson said. “It’s just a window of pure ecstasy when
you’re standing in a bubble of the utopia known as Michigan
Stadium, and nothing can go wrong.”

Although there is always a slim chance that the Wolverines may
not emerge the victors on any given Saturday, everything else about
those Saturdays seems perfect. Some of the weekend hullabaloo
begins as early as dawn, when the first sounds of the Michigan
Marching Band start pouring off of Elbel Field, signaling the start
of another exciting day. Granted, for some of the bigger games,
some students elect to never go to sleep, but that’s just
part of the experience. How many chances do you get to fire up a
grill at 9:30 a.m. anyway?

“As big an event as it is around here, if you’re not
up by then, I think there’s something wrong with you,”
Benson said.

Sacrificing sleep is just something that goes along with the job
and is no hassle for the average football fan.

But surprisingly enough, football fans are not the most hardcore
at the University. Even with all the tradition and spectacle that
goes along with a Football Saturday, you have to take a hop, skip
and jump away from the Big House down to cozy Yost Ice Arena before
you find the real passionate Michigan fans.

A chance to watch the Michigan hockey team is one of the
toughest tickets to get at Michigan. Yost Ice Arena only seats
6,637 — a relatively small number for a national powerhouse
like the Wolverines — but that crowded fieldhouse environment
only adds to the rowdiness that the fans exude.

“The atmosphere is really unique,” LSA sophomore
Jeremy Bronson said. “The students are louder than anywhere
else. Plus it’s indoors, and they’re organized enough that
the message gets across.”

That message normally comes in the form of some profanity
directed at opposing players. It’s part of what makes the
Yost crowd so famous — or infamous. The student section is
always ready with a laundry list of profanities for opposing
players sent off to the penalty box, and they’re always ready
to call the visiting goalie a “sieve” at the drop of a
hat.

“I like the ‘goal count’ because it takes up
so much time and really rubs it in,” Bronson said.
“I’m also a fan of ‘ugly parents.’

It’s not the friendliest atmosphere in all of college
hockey — in fact, it’s the most intimidating. The
Wolverines went 19-3-0 this past season at home and only 5-7-2 away
from Yost Arena. The atmosphere creates a degree of home-ice
advantage rarely seen anywhere else in the country.

But then again, if you could experience the unique feel of a
Michigan hockey crowd or a tailgate behind the Big House anywhere,
it just wouldn’t be that special.

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