Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Coming Clean

I remember the feeling well. I think everybody does. Christmas morning was the pinnacle of my existence for the first 10 years of my life. Few things rival the magic and wonder of closing your eyes with anticipation and waking up with adrenaline-fueled excitement. If I try hard enough, I can still get lost for a moment or two in the memories. Nobody ever tells you this when you’re a kid but the joy of Christmas from a child’s perspective is fleeting. No matter how hard you try to replicate the feeling as you get older, it’s a futile endeavor. Some things—like watching cartoons and eating popsicles—just aren’t the same when you get older. Unfortunately, I have to add the University of Michigan to that list.

I was born in Columbus, Ohio. I spent the first four years of my life as an Ohio State fan—or so I’m told. The bulk of my extended family still resides in Columbus. My family moved to Michigan when I was four and it was the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl and the 1989 Basketball National Championship that got me hooked on Michigan sports. It wasn’t hard to switch allegiances. I was basically a free agent. Without the influence of my Buckeye-crazed family, my love for Michigan athletics grew undeterred. ‘M’ sports joined Christmas and He-Man as the most totally awesome things in the universe. My affinity for the Maize and Blue grew throughout middle and high school. By the time I was set to graduate, I knew exactly where I was going to college. I filled out one application, got one acceptance, and I was off to Ann Arbor.

The seed of change started to grow early on at Michigan. I entered school with passion intact but little did I know that I would quickly find out just how human ‘M’ athletes were. Soon I was in class with football players. I attended parties with hockey players. Some were great people. Others were jerks. When it came time to root for the teams on the field, I no longer saw the uniform. Instead, I saw people—extremely flawed people. My Christmas morning was taken from me again. When I graduated, I had to deal with the inherent issue of rooting for a team that was almost entirely younger than me. Every college sports fan has to go through that transition at some point. However, not knowing the athletes personally—like I did the four previous years—helped bring back some of the excitement post graduation. Still, I found myself suppressing thoughts of indifference and, at times, disdain. Many of my friendships are rooted in shared enthusiasm for Michigan athletics. It was hard to fake interest at times but it was necessary to keep friendships intact.

Every now and again, you hear of couples who just fall out of love. It’s not something that was planned but it just happened. I’m sure everyone pretends for a certain amount of time but that sort of self-deception is unsustainable long-term. My experience might not be as important as a failed-marriage but it is certainly something that hasn’t been easy to accept. I started this blog with hope that it would re-kindle my interest. Some of my best and most popular work has been about the Michigan football and basketball teams. The positive feedback from those articles helped string things along for a few years but I can’t do it anymore. I just don’t care about Michigan. That last sentence wasn’t as nearly as hard to write as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was relieving.

I can’t say for certain but I suppose winning more might have made a difference. How can I rationalize rooting for a school like Michigan when it has been utterly dominated by Ohio State on the field? Michigan Basketball is 1-8 against Ohio State since 2005. Michigan Football is 0-5 against Ohio State since 2004. That’s pathetic. I know I run the risk of being labeled a fair-weather fan but, remember, I was born a Buckeye. I have every right to return to my roots. Ohio State is the pinnacle of college athletics. A family friend who also happens to be the biggest Ohio State fan on the planet never fails to remind me that I was born a Buckeye and that somewhere inside of me is a Buckeye. I’m a stubborn person so I’ve resisted mostly out of defiance but I’ve always been a little jealous of what I’ve been missing.

Had I let my emotions dictate my decision, I think I would’ve come to this conclusion a long time ago. I wouldn’t dare do this out loud but every time the OSU band plays the fight song, I can’t help but hum along. For the longest time, seeing Michigan lose was unbearable. It ruined more days than I can count. Slowly, that post-loss feeling turned to indifference. Now, I’ve actually started to get those feelings when Ohio State loses. I probably shouldn’t say this but I actually put on an old OSU shirt for the Siena-game. That was not a good night for me. But, that night marked the night that I gave in. I don’t know any other way to say it than to simply say that Ohio State is my team.

Anyhow, I wasn’t sure what to do with all of this. I mean, I’ve maintained a Michigan blog for four years. The last few months have been brutal. I’ve forced a number of Michigan-related posts that were absolutely agonizing to write. I’ve even railed on Justin Boren for doing essentially the same thing that I’m doing. I just can’t do it anymore. This is my attempt to get it all out so I don’t have to pretend anymore. I still haven’t decided how I’m going to juggle being an Ohio State fan with writing a Detroit sports blog. I still love my Detroit teams so I plan to continue writing on those topics. I’m toying with the idea of writing a few Ohio State articles just to see how it goes. I know I have readers who are diehard Michigan fans. All I can do is apologize. I hope writing about the Bucks doesn’t mark the end of your readership. This has been years in the making and it has helped tremendously to get this off my chest and…April Fool’s! Go Blue!


Anonymous said...

Can't believe I nearly fell for that.
Damn you.

Anonymous said...

You had me until the Justin Boren reference. I'm such a sucker.

Jeff in Columbus said...

I was born min Michigan and moved to Cols when I was 5 (1977). First thing I heard when I got here is "Michigan Sucks." I have been a UM fan ever since....


Jake said...

Thanks for humoring me guys. I started thinking about an April Fool's post last year. I initially planned on putting together a revised list of the top 100 baseball players of all-time that was just crazy with some sweet albeit awful names from the past. I decided that people would know it was a joke immediately after reading whoever I ended up putting #1. This "switching allegiances" post at least held for a few minutes!

Yale Van Dyne said...

you had me. good one.


Powered by Blogger