Paul at Varsity Blue has a Guide to the Student Section posted today with some great tips for the uneducated freshman attending his or her first Michigan game, or for the upperclassman who needs a slight refresher on the dos and don'ts of the student section.
So in that same spirit, we offer up our annual stadium guide for the Michigan fan.
1) The most basic rule of all, don't boo your own team. Seems simple enough, but for some old-money alums or drunk season ticket holders, booing the team/coaches is a tradition as old as the Detroit Lions not making the playoffs. You may be unsatisfied with that you see on the field (oh who am I kidding, you will be unsatisfied), but please remember that these are just boys playing a game. They hear you booing and let me tell you, it does wonders for the self-esteem.
2) Just as in the student section, refrain from getting plastered at the tailgate. And if you do, stay at the tailgate. If not, that drunk feeling in the first half will turn into a hung-over feeling in the 2nd half. Your head and your fellow seat mates will thank you.
3) Don't get pissed when someone wants to stand up in front of you on a big defensive play or 3rd down. Yelling "Down in front!" not only makes you sound like a crotchety old man, but you subtract from the excitement of the situation. Most folks stand because someone in front of them stood up. Don't be afraid to stand up and actually make some noise, you might find it fun. If you want to sit for the whole game, watch it from home.
3b) The students will shake their keys on a 3rd down defensive play or a "key play". While I disagree with this practice...they would be much more effective just yelling. Don't assume that this is the standard. There is a movement in the student section to end this tradition. Help them out by keeping your keys in your pocket and yelling instead.
4) Great segue into my next point. Get up and get loud! Nothing irks me more than people complaining about how quiet the Big House is. And it irks me, because they're right. We have some of the quietest fans out there. Does the stadium design take away from he noise the fans make? Sure, but to a point. The new pressboxes will help keep some of the noise in the bowl, but not much. My argument against that is...you can't deflect silence. Don't be afraid to be a fan and stand up and make noise.
5) The seats are small. We all know that. Don't show up on Saturday and curiously proclaim "They make these seats smaller every year!". No they don't. Your butt may get bigger...but we've all heard that statement a million times. And if someone happens to have a cheek on your seat, deal with it. I've had games when I've ended up about 2 or 3 seats away from where I started. It just happens.
6) Extend some courtesy to our visiting friends. They made the trip to the Big House to see their team play us. They're so drastically outnumbered its not even funny. Let's not get in their faces are throw things at them. Michigan fans, as a whole, have a pretty good reputation for being courteous to visiting fans. Let's keep that going.
7) Do your drinking at the tailgate. I don't want to come off as a prude here, but do you really need to smuggle in those little shot bottles of Jack or Captain Morgan to mix with your diet coke? If you do, then so be it...I'm not here to judge. But at least have the decency to put the empty bottles back in you pocket or throw them away. I have this memory of one of my first Michigan games when I was a young kid, and seeing just dozens of empty shot bottles all over the place as I watched the game. I was disappointed then, and I am ashamed now.
8) Watch the language. Michigan stadium is an amazing place. It is a great place to bring young children to experience one of the true spectacles in sports. There are more young kids in the stadium than you may suspect. The more F-bombs you yell, the more they will hear you...and they're like sponges. It makes you look bad and sets a bad precedent for the next generation of Michigan fans.
9) And finally, just be a fan. Enjoy yourself and cheer for Michigan. You can change the outcome of a game by being loud and positive...and it can be contagious to the people around you. Going negative rubs off just the same. You paid the money for the ticket and/or parking, so make the most of it. No one goes to the games looking to be upset. And the last thing you want is someone behind you that makes snide remarks the whole game. So don't be that guy either.
So have fun, cheer loud and Go Blue!
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