There is such a thing as too much spirit
I am an MSU student who comes from a family made up of predominantly University of Michigan fans, and they never cease to remind me of that. My uncle especially enjoys teasing me, telling me that he’ll “root for MSU every game except for one, and you’d better know what that game is.”
It’s light-hearted and all in good fun, though. There is nothing at all vicious about the taunting that my family and I exchange, and it’s more amusing than anything when we competitively banter back and forth.
The competitive nature between the two schools is all a part of their famous rivalry, right?
It evokes so much excitement within our cores to support something so passionately, and that’s why the MSU and U-M rivalry still is going strong today.
But there is a line between showing support for a team and becoming something that’s downright disturbing.
We crossed that line this week.
As of Tuesday, on Spartan Avenue near Snyder Road, a tree was donned with a particularly offensive decoration to “celebrate” the upcoming football game.
Hanging from one of the higher branches is a skeleton that, of course, was decked out in U-M clothing. A photo of the skeleton, dangling from the branches by a rope tied around its neck, was posted Monday night on reddit.com with the title “Welcome to East Lansing.”
Comments on the photo varied from praising the display to calling it out for what it really is — taking this rivalry way too far.
We’ve seen how packed the campus gets during football games, and this is no ordinary game. The tailgates draw crowds like moths to a flame, and those crowds include young children.
The atmosphere is bound to be tense on Saturday because this is the game that everyone has been waiting for. Everyone is going to be much more riled up during this game than any other, but that doesn’t mean children, students and fans of both teams should not feel safe.
Even sooner than the upcoming game, the sidewalks are going to be packed Thursday night with young East Lansing residents as they trick-or-treat in celebration of Halloween. What kind of example will it set for them if they see the hung skeleton of another team’s player?
Not only is it a crude image to expose them to, but it implies the idea that this over-the-top display is acceptable behavior.
Displays such as the hanging U-M skeleton are insensitive and, honestly, rather frightening. Even the way the skeleton is hung can prompt possibly painful memories for some people with whom hanging hits close to home, such as suicide survivors.
It gives a message of hostility much too harsh toward people we should be welcoming, or at least being respectful toward, when they come to visit our campus and community. Obviously, we aren’t going to shake their hands and wish them good luck; trash-talk and profanities will definitely be shouted.
Everyone is going to be heated on Saturday. Tempers will flare on both sides of the field, and people are going to make impulsive and possibly idiotic decisions. It’s exciting and a huge rush for spectators, but there’s a difference between showing Spartan pride and behaving like a barbarian.
Game day is supposed to be intense, and we’re allowed to show pride and support for our team as it prepares to face off against one of its greatest rivals.
We still need to keep ourselves from being too caught up in the rush, though, and overstepping the line between having fun and setting a tasteless example for the community.
Casey Holland is a State News staff reporter. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.