Football fans should just root for a good gameWritten by Matt Sussman | | email@example.com
During my pre-adolescent days at Whiteford Elementary School, the highlight of gym class was kickball.
It’s the perfect game for little kids because it’s entirely impractical for adults to play.
Can you imagine grown men playing kickball? It would take 15 minutes just to retrieve every home run, and this would occur during every at bat.
Normally, the teams were divided up by counting off: one, two, one, two, one, two. But, every year, around the Ohio State-Michigan game, the teams were drawn up much more democratically: It was Ohio State vs. Michigan, and this was the one time where the teams were not equal in size.
My choice was Ohio State, not for any reasons that had to do with Eddie George or Bobby Hoying.
Frankly, I didn’t know who those people were, and I didn’t really care for football until high school.
The reason was simple: this was the early 90s, and since Gary Moeller’s Wolverines were kicking some serious scarlet and gray tail, about 20 kids would pick the “Michigan” team, while there’d be about eight for playing for “Ohio State.”
School is all about fitting in with the group, but you didn’t have to whip through long division math tests to know that on a smaller team, a kid gets to kick the ball so many more times.
And this was my ironclad logic.
Today, my kickball days are well behind me, so my allegiance toward one team or the other is null and void.
Friends ask me who I’m rooting for, and I say, “just a good game.”
When Ohio State plays Michigan, I have no dog in the fight. I’m pretty sure this is illegal to admit in public.
People who don’t vote in presidential elections must feel the same way. “What do you mean you don’t care who wins? Our country’s future is at stake!” But in this case, you just swap out the latter sentence with “It’s Ohio State-Michigan!”
I’m sure there are others who merely enjoy the game without taking a side. I’m also sure that group is as much a minority as the “Ohio State” kickball team was back in the day.
It’s not apathy; far from it. In 2006, both teams were 11-0 and ranked No. 1 and No. 2, with a win all but guaranteeing a chance to play for the national championship.
Ohio State won 42-39, and I was convinced after that game — and for whatever stubborn reason, still do to this day — that the championship game should’ve been a rematch between the two teams.
The rivalry, in most years, feeds the competition and launches it into the stratosphere.
Some years, admittedly, this does not happen, such as last year, when Ohio State walked all over Rich Rodriguez’s Wolverines 42-7, or in 1902 when Michigan rolled up 15 touchdowns en route to an 86-0 walloping. And this was back when touchdowns were just five points.
And lopsided games like those usually motivates the losing team to try that much harder the next year. Or so we all like to believe.
And so it brings us to this year. Do we want to see Ohio State snag another Rose Bowl appearance? Or do we want to see Michigan’s season end on a strong note after languishing through October?
It doesn’t really matter to me. Let the game be close in the fourth quarter, and if I pray to the correct football god, let it be decided in the final two minutes. Or the final play. Or overtime.
Or maybe it is proper to cheer for Michigan. If Ohio State wins, it’ll be six years in a row they beat the young men from Ann Arbor.
They say rivalries are rivalries because they go back and forth. And after all, nobody wants to see the “Michigan” kickball team suddenly become outnumbered.