OSU 14, Mich 3; me - below zero

Today was 'The Game'. The most famous rivalry in football stretching back 102 years - Michigan versus Ohio State. If there was a list of the most boring states in the country, Ohio would rank in the top five, along with New Jersey. That is one of the reasons Michigan fans give for hating Ohio and the Ohio State team in particular. Ohio is the real middle America, and no surprise that this state has given America seven presidents and decides presidential elections. The American Midwest in known for a lot things and among them is the fanatic appeal of football. A totally perverse game according to me. Not only do they play with an egg-shaped ball, and hardly ever kick the ball, but also the fact that a great football day is when the weather is most foul.

Today, Saturday was most foul. Almost freezing. Grey, windy, and raining. This was my last chance to see a Mich-OSU game in the Big House and I felt, despite my little interest, I must pay my respects, at least once, to the holiest Michigan traditions. They say you can't graduate till you know the Fight song (I am working on both!). I had friend who came all the way from California to watch. He has my sympathies. It was tremendous let-down for what was promised to be a great showdown. Not only was the game low-scoring, but also was super boring with nothing much happening for close to four hours. Unlike soccer, the game is mostly abrupt, with each play lasting less than few tens of seconds.

In any case, I doubt that 112,000 people really show up for the football. Football Saturdays are just another good excuse to get drunk before noon and talk trash about opposing teams. It is one of the beauties of America to create an entire supporting subculture on almost anything that is done by more than a dozen people. A lot of things about football Saturday are not not about football at all. The tailgate, the BBQ, etc. This culture is what I enjoy the most - the feeling of being walking towards the stadium and being sucked into another world. I like to hear the guy outside the IMSB building who raps extempore on way to the stadium. The smell of the hot-dogs on the grill. The martial march of the sea of yellow shirts. The drunk undergrads with the ridiculous face-paint, the trash-talkers and over-priced pizza slices.

In the stands, the guy behind me decided to streak onto the field. He got down to his undies and was trying to persuade others around him to get naked. Given the general boredom it might have happened, perhaps on a warm sunny day. Soon he decided that the twin problems of getting arrested and getting hypothermia with no supporting nudists was not worth it.

For all the pre-game hype, freezing to see Michigan held to a total yardage, less than length of the field, wasn't worth it. I could have been toasting in the comfort of home. But, then you have no stories to tell.

1 comment:

Ashutosh said...

Great commentary! I watched a documentary about the rivalry the other day. Americans seem to be almost as emotional about winning World War 2 as they are about this rivalry. Almost. I have to say I found it a little silly though; all that heart-warming, mushy stuff about a game? But I will stop now before I get my ears kicked in by die-hard fans.
P.S. I can see that you have become an American now!