Sunday, November 20, 2011

My afternoon at Spartan Stadium (Michigan State 55, Indiana 3)

I went with my wife to MSU's season finale against Indiana and it was a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend a November Saturday afternoon.

I can only afford to attend one or two MSU football games per year, but am happy that I was able to extend my 19-year streak of making at least one game per season.  This relatively modest streak dates back to 1993. 

My pre-game preparation consisted of wearing my favorite "gruff Sparty" hoodie, and making the last second decision to sport my long underwear, which turned out to be a good decision, even though temperature was a warm-for-November 47 degrees.  (And I am sure you, the reader, are thrilled to know that I had my long johns on--perhaps a little too much information?).

After dropping off our two sons at a friend's house in Lansing, we parked our car at my sister-in-law's place in East Lansing and walked over to the stadium, finally reaching our seats just moments before the Senior Day ceremonies.  (Unfortunately, we missed the Spartan Marching Band take the field, which has become one of my favorite parts of the Michigan State football experience).

Let me say something about Spartan Stadium.  Despite the shiny addition that was added onto it a few years ago (completed in 2005, to be precise), the place literally is a "spartan stadium".  In fact, if anything, the west side addition only accentuates the sad appearance of the rest of the exterior and concourses.  Spartan Stadium was never that much to look at in the first place, but the reinforced concrete skeleton is deteriorating and rebar is visible in many areas.  I know it has been this way for quite awhile, but if MSU wants to have a football venue to match the excellence the program has produced on the field for the last few years, this problem should be addressed.  Don't get me wrong, I love Spartan Stadium, but in many ways the old girl is really showing her age.

I will say this in defense of Spartan Stadium: it's completely unpretentious and doesn't pretend to be anything but what it is--a football stadium.  Don't expect any ferris wheels or playgrounds or picnic areas.  When one is at Spartan Stadium, one is expected to watch a football game (unless one is one of the rich folk who can afford a luxury suite--one of Spartan Stadium's few concessions to the modern reality of multi-million dollar collegiate athletics).

Another compliment I'll extend to Spartan Stadium is that is that I am thrilled that Tim Horton's coffee is now served at the concessions (and at all MSU athletics concessions).

As for the game itself, blowout wins can be enjoyable--and this one certainly was for me.  About the only good thing about the Indiana Hoosiers is their sharp new road uniforms and helmets, which resemble those of the Texas Longhorns.  Unfortunately for Indiana, they played like the Longhorns on a three-day bender. 

I had a wonderful time simply kicking back on our south endzone aluminum bench and watching the Spartans run up and down the field at will.  The lopsided score allowed each senior player the opportunity to make his own curtain call in the fourth quarter, and those were touching scenes I won't soon forget.  And everyone in the stadium got a big kick watching guard Joel Foreman run the ball late in the game for a 3-yard gain.

At this time, I wish to extend a debt of gratitude to the Nebraska Cornhuskers for losing on Saturday, and thus guaranteeing the Legends Division crown for the Spartans.  As for that school down the road that beat the Huskers, I refuse to offer them any thanks.  (I believe I mentioned this particular school in a previous post).

When the game was over, I didn't want to leave.  But at least we were able to conclude our football Saturday with a relaxing stroll across a late November college campus, still clinging to its green color before the inevitable onset of winter in the not-too-distant future.

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