Saturday Morning Mentality

Picture this:

It is a bright Saturday morning. You walk down the stairs of your residence hall, decked out in your maize Michigan get-up. You step outside. The air is crisp with a temperature of 57 degrees; however, the light breeze flowing through the air makes it feel more like a brisk 49. As you see the Michigan busses pass, filled to the brim with what seems like a pool of maize Michigan mayhem, you throw your hands up in the air and shout, “IT’S GAMEDAY! LETS RALLY!”As we all know, almost every other Saturday, if not, every two Saturdays, Ann Arbor crowds with proud Wolverines and anxious visitors. Tailgates break out, people go nuts; the entire town takes on a new mentality focused on two things, tailgates, and, secondarily, the game . But Why??? Why do a hundred thousand plus people flood the streets and the backyards of fraternity houses to consume and watch a group of people in protective padding, run into each other and throw the pigskin down a field? One theory would be that we do what we do because it is tradition. However, I firmly believe that this tradition has turned into more of an institution of escape rather than a divine ritual.

The Michigan football team hasn’t been performing incredibly well this season. Students have been reselling and handing out more football tickets this year than Ford has sold F-150 trucks this quarter, which is surprising considering that the F-150 is and has been2011_Ford_F-150_crew_cab_--_NHTSA the #1 selling automobile in the United States for the past 37 years. Seriously, one sells every 42 seconds… Even this article from ThePostGame.com highlights how Michigan football tickets have gone from “sellouts to handouts” in only four years. This somewhat poor performance by the Wolverines has prompted a depression in the student body. The underwhelming performance of the football team combined with the rigorous academic demands of the university create a perfect breeding ground for a type of depression and the need for a break for the student body. And naturally, with depression and the need for escape comes the means, by which those ends are achieved or justified…

A. Bartlett Giamatti states in Take Time for Paradise that for spectators, “sports are like a drug to keep people docile or at least diverted from real problems.” And since as early as the Neolithic period Alcohol has been a means for achieving the same end. How convenient, these are two major contributing factors to game day, or ‘gate day’ as it has become more widely known.

But Giamatti also states, “Sports and leisure are our reiteration of the hunger for paradise – for freedom untrammeled.” This thought leads me to a new idea. What if during this season, we, the student body, have shifted our desire from being in Johan Huizinga’s ideal magic circle of the Big House to creating our own Magic Circle in the backyards of frat houses. The backyards of fraternity houses do have potential to meet the five standards outlined by Huizinga’s Homo Ludens for something to be considered a magic circle. Those standards being:

1) Play is free and has a sense of freedom

2) Play is not ‘real’ life.

3) Play is different from ‘ordinary’ or ‘daily’ life.

4) Play creates order and is order.

5) Play does not involve material interest.

But when we prioritize partying over tradition, we lose our path to victory and we gain extreme potential of being dishonest to our own anthem, ‘Hail to the Victors’.

With an arguably surprising win against Penn state this past weekend, the Michigan football team has pumped a little more proud Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 1.31.01 PMblood through the hearts of Wolverines, not only in Ann Arbor but also around the world. Here is a video highlighting our win. But reversing this mentality of tailgating for escape is more difficult than just restoring a sense of pride to the university. The tickets have been sold; the seats have been given up. The ratio of Victors to visitors in the big house has already been offset. This season may very well be compromised. So I ask you, where is the student body of the University of Michigan headed? Are we going in the direction of waking up on Saturday morning to support our football team? Or are we going to wake up Saturday morning so we can forget that we have one?

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4 comments

  1. nicolesigmon · October 14, 2014

    I think your point is really interesting but the tradition of intense tailgating before a game isn’t something new. I don’t really see the amount and intensity of tailgating as having much correlation to how well the team is performing as a whole. Additionally, this past game against Penn State set the record for most people in attendance at a college football game anywhere in the country for this season. I like the idea of what you’re saying, I just don’t know if there’s enough data to come to those conclusions is I guess what I’m trying to say.

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  2. pburt117 · October 14, 2014

    I truly enjoyed reading this post. I have never considered the point that perhaps we celebrate on Saturdays so much not in celebration for the football game, but that we go to the football games so we have an excuse to do the things we do. This point is true for me, and I feel like that represents a multitude of people. The next thing that comes to mind is that once football season ends, what will we use as an excuse on Saturdays to act ridiculously? Perhaps we will celebrate simply because we no longer have to worry about how the team will do!

    Once more, this post is probably the most humorous one I have seen yet. As painful as it may be, party on, and go blue!

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  3. jbaren · October 14, 2014

    bkriegsm–What you discuss in your blog is interesting and the selling and handing out of tickets definitely is true and applies to what’s happening, but this isn’t just happening here. For example, if the Tigers aren’t playing well, prices of tickets will go down, people will often give their tickets away to their friends, or in some cases not even go, therefore the tickets will be unused. Additionally, it seems like much of your analysis has to do with an overreaction to this past game day, as in the Penn State game this past Saturday, October 11th. Considering all the factors, this makes sense. This was a very popular weekend to give away or sell student tickets because 1) it is fall break, and tons of students went home on Friday and Saturday morning and therefore aren’t able to use their ticket and 2) Pennsylvania is very close to us, and therefore a lot of Penn State students were here and in demand of tickets as I’m sure you noticed at the tailgates and in the student section. This will be the same case for the Indiana game on November 1st as it is very close to us and tons of students will be visiting and looking for tickets. As a result, there might be a good amount of red in our student section and more Michigan students will be willing to give up their tickets if demand is high which means prices are high and we all know us college kids need extra cash when we can get it. Additionally, one thing to consider with all of this is the price of tickets over the past couple years. They’ve risen so drastically that they aren’t affordable to many students, therefore the amount of tickets sold has gone down. Yet in light of all this, it shows great success that we’ve broken 100,000 in attendance consistently – this past weekend was 113,085.

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  4. alexdt2014 · October 14, 2014

    Very interesting article. I think that the game day mentality definitely has shifted to an extent from getting excited for the game to getting excited to party. But this is because there is less reason this year than most to get excited for the games. We all know that the team has underperformed this year. In addition, the season’s three biggest games, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State, are all on the road. If those games were played in the Big House, a lot more people would be pumped to go to those games. There was definitely a noticeable difference this weekend at the season’s biggest home game of the year against Penn State. Next year we play Michigan State and Ohio State at home, so I expect there to be more enthusiasm regarding the actual game then, especially if the team is better next year.

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