Monday, October 17, 2011

Tailgate Challenge/Rivalry Weekend

It's official, I've forgotten how to run short races.  It's been over two months since running a 5K, and, though I'm not sure we really got proper times starting that late after everyone else, it still wasn't good.

The tailgate challenge usually splits the runners into Michigan and Michigan State fans with the home team for that weekend running clockwise on the inner loop, and the away team on the outer loop running counter-clockwise.  Due to a breast cancer awareness walk going on at the same time, the route was cancelled and we just all ran the same way on the Retread route.  It's too bad they didn't schedule them back-to-back, because I know a lot of people would have been down for both.  I could have dealt with a cool down.

Anyway, the route change was kind of a downer, and you'd think they'd be able to work their way around it to preserve the tradition of the run.  It's not like it is a certified course or anything, and you can just estimate a 3.1 mile loop.  That's one of the best things about the course; going against the rival school and doing a little stare-down and a bit of taunting about the game to come.

Like many big in state rivalries, both sides have their reasons for coming out on one side or the other, and sometimes these reasons drive people on the opposite side nuts.  Then we do a good job stereotyping the other side, and pointing out the worst in them.  Those of us that are more civil in the matter understand that both institutions have their merits and are generally filled with decent folks.

I come from a divided family as far as MSU/U of M goes.  My parents didn't attend either, but members of my extended have gone to both schools, and my uncle actually went to one for undergrad and med school at the other.  Given my parents extreme indifference to the whole thing, I could have went either way.  I was even dressed in clothing from both schools when I was little, but hopefully any photos of me wearing a block M have been destroyed.

When I think back, I have a vague memory of the moment I chose my allegiance to Michigan State.  It was during the rivalry game weekend, and I had made the statement "well, they're both from Michigan, so what's the difference," while my Dad had people over at our house watching the game.  One of his friends rooting for  Michigan said something to me, I can't remember what.  Either way, I didn't like it, so I rooted for MSU the rest of the game as they were whipped to a pulp and I was being taunted by a cocky Michigan guy.  That's pretty much how it's gone ever since, until fairly recently.

In addition to going to many more Spartan games with my uncle, and fighting against a majority of Wolverines (at least people that claim to be) for the most of my life, I completed the process of becoming a Spartan in 2001 by graduating from Michigan State.  I love my school, and I don't take to people berating it, or making assumptions that I went there because I couldn't go to the other one.

I'm with this guy

Newsflash kids, I never applied to Ann Arbor, and I had the grades to go anywhere I damn well pleased.  There were even moments where a few complications at my dorm upon arriving at MSU made me threaten to disenroll, take a semester off and apply to Michigan for the next term.  Yes, it almost happened, and I would have become one of them, but I stuck it out and I'm glad I stayed put.  It was one of the best experiences I've had, and I'm not sure it would have been as good in Ann Arbor, or that I would have even survived in that town given that the place is just so expensive.  Even in East Lansing, I was usually flat broke and got dinner on many many occasions by taking a box cutter with me to the dumpsters and cutting off the "collect 10 for a free pizza/pokey stick" cards off of discarded Gumby's pizza boxes.  How about you guys?  Did you make any sketchy moves to survive at college?  I made quite a few.  Nothing that hurt anyone else, just general loss of self-dignity type stuff.

That thing in the top corner (used to be on the bottom right).
Anyway, though I value the academic strides we've been making a lot more, I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me some satisfaction when we win the Paul Bunyan Trophy.  I get to sit on my couch and smile knowing I won't be getting a rash of calls from Michigan fans about the game.  One of them is even an MSU alumnus, which I can't fathom.  Had I went down that dark path to Ann Arbor (dark not even referring directly to the morgue lighting in the gloomy dorms or the crows all over the campus symbolizing the death of the human soul), I would have switched allegiances completely because that would have been my school.  It wouldn't have mattered how I raised myself to root for State, I would have been a Wolverine.

Trophy games are a great thing
In a way, I still am, because I got a second degree from U of M-Flint a few years back, which I also support and have pride for, but I don't connect myself to Ann Arbor.  Besides, I'm still hoping they break off on their own eventually and lose the U of M association.
"Well... that'll be an interesting day"
Anyway, I'm happy we got up to do the run again this year, even though it was much less exciting, given the format.  I'm also glad the Spartans won for the 4th year in a row, which has never happened in my lifetime.  I just wish we hadn't done it in green and gold jerseys that looked like they were cheaply made by the old Steve and Barry's for Oregon or Notre Dame.  I'm sick of the association with the movie 300, which I believe was the impetus for this overwhelming addition of "bronze."  Get the tradition straight, even the fight song says "fight for the only colors GREEN and WHITE"...not "green and white....and bronze, and sometimes gray, and black trim...."  I'm sorry, I hate it (almost as much as I hate my university being sponsored and led on a leash by Nike).  Stick with the green and white, even if you can never settle on the proper tone for the green.  I also wish some of our players played with a little more class, but class and football rarely goes together anyway, so what can you do?

Oh, and Jason totally beat me, by almost half a minute.


  1. Had I been in any kind of running shape I would've liked to have run that race too but instead we slept in and headed over just in time for the peak of tailgating before finding a spot at Reno's to watch the game. I'm fairly certain your thoughts on the jersey's was shared by all our friends as well as your thoughts about A2. (Ironically I work in A2 just a hop, skip, and jump from U of M campus but obviously I root for MSU, Spike being an alumni and all :) LOL!) What I don't understand is why they didn't at least do silver as opposed to bronze. I mean at least silver is closer to white! All in all it was a great day and game and lots of libations were had to celebrate both! :)

    P.S. I've still never had a pokey stick but Spike and his fam LOVE the things. When I went to college (in Orlando, FL) I worked at a Bennigan's and thankfully they let you order certain things off the menu for free when you worked a shift. I would order everything allowed and that is how my roommates and I were able to eat anything until my next shift. Oh the life of a college student.

  2. Ohhh, that race is both great and it sucks. The idea is great, the execution of the race sucks. The course is never a 5K, it is either short or long...and after reading your post at least they have continued the tradition of never getting the course right.

    I did lots of student government, which meant lots of free else do you get students to show up for student government?

  3. There is some thought process behind the bronze. A lot of it is visually from the bronze-colored weaponry feature in "300." However, it's bronze in the movie because, frankly, because the weaponry of the time was made of bronze before iron weaponry came to prominence. This age of times, when Sparta was a pretty big deal, is also referred to fairly often as the Bronze Age. So it's not completely like they pulled this out of nowhere, or that the thought process behind it is flawed, but I still don't like it or the fact that it was pushed by a movie. I don't know, maybe I'm just too much of an old square.

    As far as Ann Arbor, I actually do like it a bit as a city, now. I like some of the bars, the concert venues (especially the Blind Pig and the Ark), and some of the restaurants/breweries. Just as a student, none of these things would have been featured in my experience. Not to say I never had a good time there with my Wolverine friend while we were in school, but it just wasn't my flavor.

    You must have a pokey stick at some point. I'm not sure I'm even allowed home from East Lansing without a (usually partially eaten) pokey stick in hand. I really miss Bennigan's. We used to have one here, but now the only time we get it is in Chicago.


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