Michigan is playing for the basketball national championship tonight. I can barely contain my nausea.
I am bracing myself for the very real possibility that they win. Last weekend on Facebook, I joked that if Michigan won the national championship, I would grow a big "Al Gore" beard, find a secluded wilderness cabin in northern Michigan far from human contact, and live off the grid for several months.
It now looks as if I may have to follow through with this jest. Time to start pricing secluded cabins in the deepest, darkest woods of Michigan.
It's really hard to dislike this Michigan basketball team, even for an MSU fan. If you appreciate exciting well-played hoops, than this is a team for you. Trey Burke is undeniably a great player and the Wolverines' supporting cast has stepped it up when it matters the most, in the tournament. They are easily playing their very best basketball of the season. But it's still MICHIGAN, and I can not root for them precisely for that reason--they are MSU's archrival. If those players wore other uniforms, I'd probably like for them to win and might be wholeheartedly pulling for them, but since they represent the University of Michigan, forget it. If that makes me petty or small, so be it. Does anyone think that Kentucky fans are waving their red and white pom-poms for Louisville tonight?...I rest my case.
I've heard quite a few people say, "why aren't you supporting the state of Michigan or the Big Ten?" Here's my answer: The Michigan Wolverines basketball team represents the University of Michigan, not the state of Michigan. I mean, come on, the U of M basketball team has exactly FOUR players out of 15 who are even from the State of Michigan. (For what it's worth, MSU has seven players from the Great Lakes State). And can you think of another city more unrepresentative of the Great Lakes State than Ann Arbor? It prides itself on its progressiveness and sophistication. It is much closer to a trendy East Coast city than a hardscrabble Midwestern town like Flint, Saginaw, or Lansing. Ann Arbor has more in common with Austin, TX or Portland, OR than any place in the state of Michigan.
While we're on the subject of "unrepresentative of the state of Michigan," how about the University of Michigan itself? It is a public university in name only. According to U.S. News and World Report's latest findings from November 2012, the University of Michigan has the seventh largest endowment in the nation at approximately 7.7 billion dollars (for the fiscal year 2011). The only universities with larger endowments are all private institutions (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and Columbia--in that order). In fact, U of M is the only "public" university in the national top ten. (Yet, Michigan has historically received more money from the state of Michigan than any other public university. I attempted to find current statistics, but haven't found anything recent).
The University of Michigan is at least a somewhat elitist institution (I'm trying to be diplomatic here), so I have always found it unusual that so many working class Michiganians indentify strongly with the school. Is it just the sports teams to which they gravitate? Is it because the name of the school is shortened to simply "Michigan" and not "Michigan STATE"? As far as I'm concerned, the true school of the proletariat in Michigan is MSU, but maybe it is true that Americans have no class consciousness...then again, maybe it's only about prolongued success on the football field that has gained Michigan so many "unaffiliated" fans.
Top ten university endowments in the nation
So what I'm trying to say is that I don't think the University of Michigan represents the entire state of Michigan, and in fact the entire institution is quite UNrepresentative of our blue collar state, so the heck with the "state pride" argument.
As for the "support the Big Ten" argument, I have little allegiance to the Big Ten as a whole: certainly not the likes of Michigan or Ohio State. If it were any of the other ten schools, I might root for them...(okay, probably not Wisconsin. Add the Badgers to the list of Big Ten teams I'd not pull for). So, the hell with Big Ten pride. My allegiance is with Michigan State University. So there.
You may wonder if I will be watching the game tonight. Right now, I say probably not. I don't want to watch a game simply to root AGAINST one of the participants. I'll find somthing else to do tonight.
But my one last parting shot is, "Go Louisville!"