March 30, 2014

"Althouse, who do you root for when Wisconsin faces Michigan?"

Asked Chuck, in the comments to the post on last night's basketball game, which the Badgers won. The Wolverines still need to win tonight, but if they do, the next game will be Wisconsin vs. Michigan.

My one-word answer was easy and instantaneous: "Wisconsin."

Chuck's reply:
I can't imagine that; a Michigan undergrad rooting for a conference rival. I know a former UW prof who used to live in your neighborhood. She's an Ohio State undergrad/University of Chicago Ph.D. Even as a Wisconsin faculty member, she knew who to root for. No doubt; no hesitation.
Key word: "former." How long was she here? I have been on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin for 30 years.

When she was here, how long ago had she been at Ohio State? At this point in my life, 40 years separate me from my Michigan student self.

But let me tell you about my Michigan student self. These were hippie days, Vietnam War protest days, days of the "10 for 2" "John Sinclair Freedom Rally," days of a student strike to demand that the Michigan regents adopt a policy of affirmative action. If you had told Student Althouse that one day she would be a law professor teaching about a Supreme Court case that said the University of Michigan regents violated the Constitution by doing affirmative action, it would have perplexed the hell out of her. What bizarre turns of events would need to occur for that to become reality? If you had told Student Althouse that later years would find her living in a hovel, tending a subsistence garden, and selling tiny ink drawings on the street, she'd have recognized a future that flowed — organically — from this education at the University of Michigan.

I'm lucky they let me into law school after that. (Thank you, NYU, and thank you, LSAT.)

So spectator sports have not had much of a place in my life. In 30 years living practically on campus at the University of Wisconsin, I've gone to exactly one event — a football game where the Badgers played Purdue, and that was to go with Meade, who has longstanding ties to Purdue. (He grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana.)

But I do feel the mood of my environment. I get the vicarious experience of the emotion people around me in my city feel about what happens to the Wisconsin teams. From my house, I hear the cheering in the football stadium. For decades, the sound of the marching band playing "On Wisconsin" has drifted up from the practice field over by the lake to my windows. I like it when the people of Madison, Wisconsin feel good.

I don't like it enough to want my fellow citizens to get their way in politics. But unlike the outcomes of elections, there are no consequences to the outcomes of sports events. There are winners and losers, some people will be happy and some will be sad, so I can safely and easily prefer that the people who are happy are the people in my immediate proximity. I know the Madison citizenry feels aggrieved politically, and this grimness sometimes affects me and I deal with it.

But to walk down the street in the real, physical space that is Madison, Wisconsin is — on most occasions — to see the great satisfaction we feel in our long-term relationship with the Badgers.

30 comments:

Mark said...

I am a rabid sports fan and I thought it was entirely reasonable for you to root for the school where you've taught for decades instead of your alma mater. There are times when I think you are not particularly logical in your positions but this is not one of those times.

And by the way, as a longtime reader, I think you should use that photo of you and Meade as your profile photo on the front page (to the top right) instead of the photo you just placed there a day or two ago. That picture of you and Meade shows such joy in both your eyes - it's quite moving and brings back the blog fun of when you two became a couple. Just my two cents - far be it for me to tell you what to do as you obviously know how to run a fantastic blog. I just think that photo is pretty darn special.

Meade said...

All hail our own Purdue.

LarryK said...

Nice post. I wish there was a 'like' tab next to it..and other than that, have absolutely nothing to say except "Go Badgers!"

Mark said...

P.S. I mean the photo from the "You Can Wish Me Happy Poop Day" post (in case I was unclear).

Ron said...

I know Michigan faculty members who've been here longer than you've been at Wisconsin, and they still root for their undergrad school! Strange....I think your position makes more sense.

Ann Althouse said...

@Mark, about the other picture. I agree, and I was thinking of doing that.

The "new" sidebar picture, is just the original sidebar picture, the first picture of me I ever put up on the blog, and I just ran across it the other day and thought it would be amusing to put it up again. It wasn't intended to be permanent, so I will switch it up.

I do like that picture of me kissing Meade, but I would have to crop it to put it in the sidebar (to make it vertical and narrow), and I don't know if that would look right.

mesquito said...

I imagine forty years ago boomers were so goshdarn smart that they could dream up a version of affirmative action that was just and fair for everyone.

Mark said...

Yes, I wondered whether you would have to crop the photo and whether that would not work.

I already read your blog everyday (and had been for quite awhile) when you and Meade became an item. But the joy that your relationship brought to both of your lives - and the way you continue to share it - makes the blog more than what it was.
Thank you for that.





betamax3000 said...

Crazy Street Corner Guy Off His Meds Says:

I see all the college kids stumble drunk down the street after a Big Game and they are laughing and smiling and have clean hair, they don't even think about it, their clean hair. When I was a child and had the urge to break big things my mother would stroke my hair and the feeling would go away for awhile, I would breathe normal and she would stroke my hair. Now I hit my head against a wall to stop the urges, the voices stop for awhile and I have scabs on my forehead, scabs and dirty hair, they don't even give a second thought to their hair being clean, they ignore me like I'm not even there. I want to set their hair on fire.

PB Reader said...

You can root for whom ever you wish. Rooting for the home team is as popular as rooting for the team of your youth. Whatever makes you happy.

We'll see how the fans feel when D1, big-money, "amateur" sports comes tumbling down.

Any Althouse take on the NLRB ruling for the Northwestern football players? Does declaring a scholarship athlete to be an employee make that athlete a professional? Does declaring one set of college scholarship athletes to be employees mean all college scholarship athletes are employees?

SE Flores said...

My sister was at the U of M at the same time you were Professor and has lived in the Ann Arbor area ever since. I doubt she knows Michigan is even in the tournament much less has a rooting interest. Coincidentally, her daughter went to Wisconsin and her husband went to MSU. I would bet (with the exception of my niece, maybe) that they will not have any of the games on as 1. They don't have cable (a new NCAA scheme to maximize $'s) and 2. They just don't care about sports.

Temujin said...

Well stated, Professor. I was in East Lansing around that time you were in A Squared. The me that avoided tear gas canisters on Grand River Ave. would be very surprised to see me now. Punk that I was...

Shane said...

John Lennon wrote a song on "Sometime in NYC" titled "John Sinclair." I know he played rallies/protests on occasion. Did he ever attend anything while you were at Michigan?

Shane
West Michigan

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann wrote: But let me tell you about my Michigan student self. These were hippie days, Vietnam War protest days

At the exact time you were at Michigan, I was at Wisconsin - running into the Lake Street McDonald's to escape the tear gas.

I thought at the time that I was protesting the Vietnam War, but several years ago I realized that I was actually protesting conscription, that State-sponsored combination of kidnapping and slavery, disproportionately applied to Men.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Nice post. It does feel pleasant to have the people around you be happy, doesn't it?

Last night I was at a well-attended outdoor symphony performance and one of the numbers was Deep in the Heart of Texas; the crowd went wild clap clap clap clap. I've only lived here for a few years and don't have the same attachment as those who proudly tell you of their fifth- or sixth-generation status but it was still a lot of fun.

Humperdink said...

I hope this doesn't impact the next Badger game, but it was reported last night the Badger basketball team voted to form a union. The vote was pushed by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union.

Apparently the backup players are upset with their limited playing time. The vote was close, but the backups ruled the day .... er .... evening.

Phil 3:14 said...

I became aware of this through my NU alum magazine. Note Pulte's age. Makes you wonder how frequently students don't do the Althouse path and instead are much like they will be in later life. What's the term I'm thinking of?

"Goal directed", yeah that's it.

Rob McLean said...

My U of M-graduate brother faces a possible quandry if they make the finals against Florida -- where his daughter is attending!

rhhardin said...

You're not really happy unless you overturn cars and set fires.

David said...

At this point in my life, 40 years separate me from my Michigan student self.

But let me tell you about my Michigan student self. These were hippie days, Vietnam War protest days, days of the "10 for 2" "John Sinclair Freedom Rally," days of a student strike to demand that the Michigan regents adopt a policy of affirmative action. If you had told Student Althouse that one day she would be a law professor teaching about a Supreme Court case that said the University of Michigan regents violated the Constitution by doing affirmative action, it would have perplexed the hell out of her. What bizarre turns of events would need to occur for that to become reality? If you had told Student Althouse that later years would find her living in a hovel, tending a subsistence garden, and selling tiny ink drawings on the street, she'd have recognized a future that flowed — organically — from this education at the University of Michigan.


Unfortunately there are hundreds of thousands or more who have not had the luck or wit to overcome the flowery assumptions of their educations. Unfortunately a lot of them have but a gauzy notion of what actually happened to them, if they see it at all.

David said...

My time in Ann Arbor was the first step in my recovery from my misspent undergraduate education. I should give U of M more respect and love just for that.

Maybe next year.

Go Badgers.

Bruce Hayden said...

I faced something similar several years ago, when two schools from which I have college degrees met in the Frozen Four. The one that won was going to win the NCAA title (and did).

Luckily for me, I am about as gung-ho about spectator sports as Ann is, and I remember being the only member in my fraternity house at the time who didn't play hockey at some level in college (the house had three levels of intramural hockey teams, as well as several varsity players). I also attended a single football game in 4 years of college. That was freshman year, before I knew any better. But, this all is probably not that surprising, since I was a year ahead of Ann starting college.

Some of the kids I went to school with as an undergraduate though were not as lucky, having degrees from the same two schools, and having to decide which school to root for in that Frozen Four hockey game.

ganderson said...

I'm a huge college hockey fan. ( I choose to ignore the inherent corruption in big time and increasingly in small-time college sports) I live in in Amherst, MA, have for 25 years, and am a season ticket holder and booster of the UMASS Minutemen hockey team- have been since the program started. I also grew up in St. Paul, and went to the U of MN- and I still root for the Gophers- watch then a lot on TV- typically I'll come home from the UMASS game and watch the Gopher game on TV. My first loyalty has changed- it's to the Minutemen, but fortunately or unfortunately the Minutemen are so pathetic I don't have to root against the gophers in the NCAAs. UMASS did open its season at Mariucci a couple years ago- it was weird rooting against Minnesota! Kinda like when the HS lacrosse team I coach played the team my sons played for!

Kentucky Packrat said...

Kentucky is generally a place with kind, friendly people, always willing to help.

The UK team was quite willing to help you not have to worry about whether you would have to root for Michigan or Wisconsin... :)

Chuck said...

Well, Professor, you've got me now. Go Badgers. Uphold the honor of the Big Ten.

But here's the thing; what I love about college athletics is that as alums we have a permanent, tangible connection to our almae matres. It goes with us. So that Michigan alums in grad school at Northwestern still root for the Maize and Blue. Ohio State grads living in the heart of SEC country in Atlanta still fly a Block O flag. An IU grad going to medical school in Columbus is going to want the Hoosiers to beat the hell out of the Buckeyes. Et cetera, et cetera.

The only remotely comparable thing is major league baseball, where you are given your team as a birthright. If you were born in remote northern Michigan, you are a Tigers fan. If you grew up in a remote New Hampshire forest, it's the Red Sox for you and it might be the White Sox or the Cubs depending on what side (north or south) of the Loop you live on.

How any of this might work with the NFL or the NBA is almost inconceivable to me. I can hardly be expected to turn around and root for, say a Detroit Pistons team if it is composed of guys from Notre Dame, Indiana and Michigan State. Guys I spent three or four years hating as undergraduates. (Right now, it would be hard for anybody to root for the Pistons under any circumstances.)

'Tis such a pity, that the Wolverines won't be playing the Badgers in Dallas. Anyway, now I'll join you; go Badgers.

Chuck said...

One more thing, Professor Althouse; if you missed all of the Saturday game days during your Michigan undergrad years, you missed out on some of the greatest football in collegiate history.

From 1970 to 1973, Michigan was a combined 40-3-1. An easy case could be made that two of the best games in the history of The Rivalry were the 1971 and 1973 Michigan-Ohio State games.

dreams said...

Two teams from the football dominant SEC conference are in the final four and one team from the underrated AAC. Could have been three from the Big Ten but it didn't happen. I like Bo Ryan so I'm glad for his team.

MadisonMan said...

But here's the thing; what I love about college athletics is that as alums we have a permanent, tangible connection to our almae matres. It goes with us. So that Michigan alums in grad school at Northwestern still root for the Maize and Blue.

Why the We?

I don't care what my alma mater does, really. Sure, I prefer they win, because my alma mater is also in my hometown, and I have friends who are avid Penn State fans. But if they don't win it warrants a great big Meh to me. The same with UW, here in Madison. I'm pleased they won yesterday because so many here wanted it to happen. If they hadn't? Oh well.

Alan said...

Doesn't it in some way depend upon the intensity of the rivalry? I can understand some Michigan/Wisconsin ambivalence, but not, say Michigan/Ohio State.

I'm a Texas Aggie through and through since I got my undergrad there. I moved to Austin for work 25 years ago and got my masters at Texas 19 years ago. I've lived in Austin far longer than any other place I've lived in my life. There are no professional sports teams (above minor-league) in Austin for a sports fan to give any sort of allegiance. In this town, for sports, U.T. is it. However, there is no way, no how, no possibility that I'll ever root for the University of Texas in any sporting contest.

The level of contempt the Longhorns have held for Texas A&M since U.T.'s founding in 1883 has hardened me for ever wishing them success on the gridiron, hardcourt, diamond, track, pool, links, soccer pitch, you name it. I have many good friends who are Longhorns, and they feel the same way about A&M. It's just an intense rivalry--one that remains even though the schools no longer share a conference.

K in Colorado said...

I'm an alumnus of both Michigan (undergrad)and Kentucky (grad school), so I was able to cheer on both teams yesterday. I guess I was leaning a little more towards KY, since my son is planning to go there in a couple of years for undergrad (KY offers legacy scholarships, which MI does not - As much as I loved going to MI, I'm not paying $40K per year for outstate tuition).