Let’s face it: If a person never has attended a university with a strong athletic program, being on campus during game day can be slightly intimidating. But as my parents found out this weekend, even if you’re lacking school spirit, East Lansing and MSU provide enough to make anyone a Spartan fan.
Neither of my parents went to big-name universities after graduating high school. My mother attended community college before getting a job as a fashion buyer in New York. My father also attended community college for a few years, then eventually gained his MBA from Oakland University during the late ‘90s.
So needless to say, neither really experienced a college football game day at a Division I athletic school, perplexing them both about how students could develop such spirited feelings about their athletic teams.
While I was considering schools and attending informative meetings provided by admissions officials, both were put off by MSU’s “Go green” school spirit and those who preached it. They both joked that the university was selling too much “green Kool-Aid” and that every student, parent and school official was drinking too much of it. And although I’ve developed the same strong school spirit as my peers, neither of my parents ever sported any MSU gear or clothing, even though they’re paying thousands of dollars a year to send their son there for school. I never could get them to come for a basketball or football game because neither of them liked big crowds or cold weather.
Finally, after more than a year of convincing, I was able to get them to come to Saturday’s football game against Northwestern University. I bought them good tickets to enjoy the game and even taught them a few chants and pieces of the “MSU Fight Song.”
When they arrived Saturday morning — at 11:20 a.m., I might add, as they didn’t seem to grasp that tailgating for football games begins more than a half hour before kickoff — things began with a rough start. My mom showed up in a long, purple winter coat, making her seem like a Northwestern fan rather than an MSU fan. My father, although sporting a white MSU hat, was dressed in a black shirt with blue jeans. I was disappointed in their color choices, but embraced their attendance at our tailgate anyway.
Once they began to see the pride displayed by my classmates and other parents in the university and its football team, my parents started displaying their own loyalties, even participating in “Go green, go white” chants.
Although I sat in the student section at the football game, my parents told me that they really enjoyed the game and the Spartan Stadium atmosphere. We’ve been to many Lions games in the past, but my parents enjoyed how interactive the game was with the many different chants, cheers and performances between game quarters. The game turned out as a dud for MSU, but my parents really enjoyed their time in Spartan Stadium. So much so that they told me their plans to return more frequently next season.
And of course, before they left to drive home, they had to stop in a local store to get MSU gear so that next time they could officially display their school pride.