The life of a fan is tough at times. This year is one of those for me as a fan of the Michigan Wolverines. However, a piece from Jim Carty of mlive.com has given me a reason to be proud to be a Wolverines fan.
First, from Sarah Shepard Scott of Salt Lake City:
On Aug. 30 my family and I embarked on a long, hot climb to the little "red" section in the rafters of Michigan Stadium. There we would join a relatively small, albeit loyal, group of Utah fans.
I was nervous because we were trekking through a solid background of blue and gold, over 100,000 strong, and they were pumped for the season-opening game. With me were my 11-year-old son and my 77-year-old father.
Roughly four hours later, in rafter temperature of plus 100 degrees and hermetically sealed to our neighbors, Utahns were rewarded with an improbable outcome. Way up above, their fans made their way down again through the sea of blue and gold, warily. But instead of bitter remarks and sullen looks, Utahns were largely met with congratulations, handshakes and good humor. The brave smiles and goodwill of everyone from exiting fans to bus drivers and local business owners were compelling, and observed by many.
In later conversations, it was clear that the post-game behavior of Michigan fans made more than a few of us visitors reflect on what we had witnessed. While we remained happy for our team, those reflections gave us all pause. Most of us saw that Michigan's loss revealed its greatest strength - a supportive community.
While confidence in their long-term success and pride in the history of a standout program likely buoyed Michigan fans as they demonstrated grace in the face of disappointment, it was a rare sight nonetheless. And, for those of us in smaller houses, it was inspiring
I was one of the lucky ones from Utah who attended the game Aug. 30, with my oldest son.
Other football fans could learn a lesson from Michigan and their fan base. My family and I were spit on at a UCLA game and I was hit in the back of the head by an elderly man's cane at a BYU game. I have been taunted by San Diego State and UNLV in their respective stadiums. The experience to and in the Big House was very different.
Before the game started, the Michigan Band marched down to the end of the field where they welcomed us with the Utah fight song and a very sincere welcome over the PA system. As Utah did well early in the game I was embarrassed over the taunting some of the 3,500 Utah fans did towards the 105,000 Michigan fans. But there was little response from Michigan fans. Then back to the airport where the young attendant at the car rental sincerely said, "We appreciate you guys (Utes) taking it easy on us and letting us make it a close game." Thanks Michigan, you showed my son and me how real fans with class act.
And, finally, a third from Patrick J. Healey of Holladay, Utah:
I just got back from visiting your stadium and your fair state. I wanted to make three quick comments.
• Thank you for being so hospitable! Five friends came to watch the game and cheer on our team. The fans in Section 15 were very generous and showed good sportsmanship. Sad to say some of the Utah fans I could not say likewise; for them I apologize. It was a good experience.
• You need to cut some slack to your players and coaches. Yes, they were befuddled by our defense because our defense has been playing this scheme and practicing with a team that has been playing the spread for years. Other than some questionable calls, our team hurt themselves more on miscues and penalties.
• Six years ago we lost to Arizona in a similar game and went on to win the rest of the games that season. Give your team a real chance before tearing them down.
Thanks for the kindnesses shown and I hope someday you will come visit us and that we can show you as much Western hospitality as you showed us of Midwestern hospitality. You have the best fans I've ever met in any stadium.
With all the horror stories coming from stadiums around the nation, it's uplifting that Michigan fans remained so classy despite defeat. It's always nice to have a few less jerks in our fan base than that of your average program.
My hats off to the fans that were in attendance and thank you for giving Michigan fans a good name!