Alberta did not draw an unequivocal comparison between the rivalry of the states of Michigan and Michigan and the “rivalry” between Democrats and Republicans in contemporary American politics. Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a Michigan State graduate, while her state Republican party’s pro-Trump chairman is a University of Michigan regent named Ron Weiser, who in March 2021 , listed “assassination” as one of the ways GOP representatives who voted to impeach Trump could be removed from office. (“Although I should have chosen my words more carefully, anyone who knows me understands that I would never advocate violence,” he said afterwards.) It was more than the direction of politics American — its tone and the issues that most deeply drive people to choose which side they choose — have been predicted by the way Americans have coalesced into groups of college football fans for decades.
The STAEE photo speaks of an endemic problem that is both political and sporting. Although I have ongoing social and professional relationships with a large handful of Michigan State graduates who are for someone smarter, more successful, and kinder than me, my feelings about Michigan State in as an institution mostly revolve around seeing Michigan folks on Twitter retweeting the dumbest ones. shit their dumbest fans say and do. Or, alternatively, thinking about the weak moments in MSU’s football rivalry program, like the 2011 game in which his team committed six personal fouls, including one against a defender who grabbed Michigan quarterback Denard’s helmet. Robinson and pulled him so that his head and neck twisted back, grotesquely, as he lay on the floor after the play ended. After that game, then-MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said dirty play had been the plan: “That’s what we tried to do, sixty minutes of unnecessary roughing.” (He later said he was “a bit of a joke” when he made the comment and didn’t encourage cheap shots.) save pass; before the 2018 game, the State team (featuring then-coach Mark Dantonio) performed a pre-game ritual called “the Spartan Walk” so as to “accidentally” run into a few Michigan players as they stretched.
It drove me crazy. I loved when Harbaugh’s teams beat Dantonio twice on the road at Spartan Stadium, in 2016 and 2018, then at the Big House in 2019 by a score of 44-10, in a season that ended up being the last of Dantonio. He came out bottom, as far as the rivalry goes. Good! Negative supporter!
The game was the first I had been there during the season which could be described as having an electric atmosphere. ESPN’s College GameDay and Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff national pregame shows aired onsite. The tickets were stupidly expensive. I paid $450 each for a pair in the lower zone. Repugnant.
MSU’s tailgate scene is diffuse but still bustling, with many pockets of activity in various parking lots and quads and apartment complexes. Tim and I found something called “Meijer Fan Experience” near the stadium, which was a banner that said Meijer fan experience above what, as far as I could tell, was just a big field of mud. (Meijer is a local supermarket chain. Republican Representative for West Michigan, Peter Meijer, a family heir, voted to impeach Donald Trump, meaning he is one of the people Ron Weiser was referring to in his “assassination” remarks, which, as Weiser clarified, should not be understood as advocating violence.) The GameDay set was on a nearby area covered with artificial turf; it was bigger than I expected, with an elevated stage and multi-story light trusses. In context, it looked like a castle surrounded by peasants celebrating the harvest. In all directions there were people walking back and forth and an incredible amount of empty beer cans, cups and other trash on the floor. As you walked, you passed between areas of vibrant bass. This sensory assault combined with the brain haze induced by the beers in a way that I found pleasantly disorienting. I peed behind a shipping container which for some reason was part of the Meijer Fan Experience.