You’re sitting in the Big House, you don’t just hear the 100,000 plus people around you, you feel them; their energy, their excitement, their anger, the vibrations of their pounding fists and clapping hands during “Hail to the Victors.” This is game day; this is the day when you, your fellow students, alumni, and people who simply love Michigan football come together to collectively experience, cheer, boo, and, at times, cry together. As we watch our talented players run, jump, score, and lose (which is happening more than we might like to as of late) we are all united and collectively experiencing every emotion together. Together we win and together we lose. We are, temporarily, removed from reality and seeking something greater.
The experience described above is what I thought of while reading A. Bartlett Giamatti’s “Take Time for Paradise.” In his essay he states, “when people win together, the joy is more intense than when any of us wins alone, because part of any true pleasure is sharing that pleasure, just as part of the alleviation of pain is sharing the burden of pain.” Essentially, when it comes to watching sports, all of our emotions are enhanced when we experience them together, and that is exactly how I feel when I’m in the Big House on game day.
When I enter that stadium, I share an instant connection with all of those around me, as we react in unison to everything that plays out on the field. There is nothing quite like when I’m sitting in the stands when we win a game, and I’m able to cheer and scream along with all of the fans, hug my friends and high-five complete strangers. Winning together makes it all the much better.
And when we lose, * cough * last Saturday * cough *, the pain is not as great as it would be if I were to be sitting alone watching it, because I have the ability to mourn our loss and complain about whatever fumbles or bad passes occurred, with those around me. Losing together makes it all the much easier.
Every game day, while I root for our team, I am rooting for something much more that just that singular win. I, and all Michigan fans, are collectively aspiring to, as Giamatti put it, “the condition of paradise…a dream of ourselves as better than we are, back to what we were.” Whether this paradise is something intangible and unattainable, or the glory and success of the 1997 National Championship, every game day we are all wishing, hoping and dreaming of being better, of being as good and glorious as we used to be.