As most of us already know, the University of Michigan students have expressed hatred and disgust towards our Athletic Department and its director, Dave Brandon. People are saying that Brandon has made our athletic department all about money. That he is making the department into a business and feeding off the students to do that. The incident in last Saturdays game with Shane Morris has also brought concern to the Michigan fans.
I agree that no player should ever be put on the field with a concussion. I understand where the disgust is coming from. Our football team is 2-4 and has continuously been dropping in performance since Hoke took the reins. Michigan students and alumni want to see our football program succeed and are frustrated with our performance so far this season. Fans are blaming the coaches and the athletic department for this, however, what they don’t understand is the players are taking the hit and it is effecting their “play”.
In class we have talked a lot about “play”. As a student athlete I believe every athlete at Michigan should enjoy their sport and love playing it. Huizenga believes play must be “distinct from ordinary life” and “play is voluntary and free” (Huizenga). Play is a place where you can escape the stresses of life for a limited amount of time and focus on something different. I believe Brandon is trying to give us that opportunity here at Michigan. However, with the lack of support for Brandon and our football program, the football players are no longer “playing” football.
In addition, I would normally agree with Giamatti’s argument that “sports are an opiate to the masses” (Giamatti). Sports are supposed to control fans and calm them from ordinary stresses. However, this protest and bitterness has caused more stress, not only for fans, but also for players. Football at Michigan should be an opiate for the entire University but it is not. It is becoming a source for bitter energy.
The amount of stress and pressure that has been put on OUR football program by OUR students is appalling. They are putting in 20+ hours of practice every week to try and be successful. While putting in the effort to succeed they know that their own fans have abandoned them. They know that their own fans are wearing Ohio State sweatshirts to protest because they are not winning games. They are trying to prove themselves to everyone; they are not playing. All the media attention and unrest from the students has brought Huizenga’s “ordinary world” into the football players world.
Now, I know everybody has their doubts about our Athletic Department and who may be running it and that is perfectly okay. They can handle your remarks; they will still support Michigan athletics to the fullest, creating leaders and the best no matter what popular demand may say. All 931 student athletes will continue to support our family, and will never turn our backs on OUR 31 D1 programs. We know the effort our football team puts in for this school and the response they are receiving from “loyal” fans for losing is incredibly disappointing. I urge you to rethink your position as a U of M football fan. No one at Michigan who calls themselves a true fan should ever wear an Ohio State sweatshirt.