So Much More Than a Football Game

Football Saturdays – they’re so much more than binge drinking and overhearing girls asking the nearest boy to explain what just happened that made everyone cheer in the Big House. It’s more than face jewels, tshirts with zippers, overalls, and onesies. It’s about an entire town stopping to celebrate the team, the team, the team – OUR team.

Sure, all the accessories, face tats, and high socks help get you pumped for the day while you’re getting ready. And I’m not going to deny that the majority of the school is drunk the whole day, but there’s a bigger point here. Everyone is coming together to dance and sing and celebrate one incredible football team, all the while representing that classic work-hard-play-hard school environment that stems from the song that made every class of ’17 student choose to go here after hearing it in the I’m Shmacked videos. And with every fiber of my being I’m fighting the realization that that was my last football Saturday at the University of Michigan.

Dancing on an elevated surface surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever known, a lot of mud, and “Closer” blasting on the speakers, I started crying – bawling actually. I wish the louder you screamed “we ain’t ever getting older” during that song, the younger you stayed. But unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. And every time I saw an underclassman post about how sad he or she was that it was the last game day, I wanted to yell. No honey, it’s not, you’ve still got seven more next year, and I don’t – none of us do.

But I’ve got to say, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect final game day. It represented everything I’ve gotten out of these four years. People are stressed, in the middle of papers, tests, and projects, and heading into Thanksgiving where it’s socially unacceptable to do school work and a requirement to be with friends and family. Yet everyone somehow manages to get the work done while sacrificing an entire Saturday. A day devoted to throwback songs, smiles, selfies, not-so-candid “candid” pictures, laughs, and lots of tears on this particular Saturday. You never know what the next moment could bring or what emotion you’ll feel, but as long as you surround yourself with genuine, kind, caring people – the kind who wait 45 minutes with you so you don’t have to eat BurgerFi alone – you’ll be just fine.

It doesn’t matter how many tailgates get shut down or when you start to sober up, because those aren’t the moments you’ll remember – it’s the moments that you feel on top of the world, celebrating your near-perfect school with your best and forever friends, that you’ll remember for years to come. When you’re standing on the ledge of a frat’s backyard singing at the top of your lungs and look around at a sea of maize and blue people with the most genuine smiles – besides the token crying girl – you can’t help but smile alongside them.

And lastly: the game. At any other school, snow at the final game of the season would not be welcomed. That would make it colder and more miserable than the 32 degrees already was, and people would leave. But not here. A few flurries here and there throughout the first three quarters didn’t faze anyone. But come fourth quarter, it was coming down like a near blizzard. And the reaction of all the seniors who had stuck it out for their last undergraduate game was to look up at the sky, mouths opened, ready to catch some flakes. It was the most blissful, beautiful picture: everyone smiling even wider, collecting enough snow to make snowballs, the field starting to be buried so deep in snow you couldn’t even see the lines. Even the cheerleaders ran across and slid on their stomachs and made snow angels. The overhead lights reflecting off each flake made the sight bright and beautiful – the true feeling of being in a snow globe. And through all that, we beat Indiana 20-10. It was the most perfect game.

I then stood at the top of the Big House steps while the entire crowd emptied out. My friends and I just looked in silence and in awe, thinking of all the incredible memories we had shared over the last 29 games, and panicking that the next time we come here may be for graduation. But we have the most incredible, indescribable, unique memories to carry with us for days to come – and most importantly, more than a semester left to make even more.

Michigan pride is something that I know carries on way past these four years. It’s something that compels students to come here and then makes for the most energetic and proud alumni community afterwards. “Go Blue” will potentially be the phrase I say most often in my lifetime, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Images Courtesy of: Linsday Hurwitz and USA Today