Saturday, September 26, 2020

COLUMN: Spring game has become a cultural phenomenon

April 23, 2015
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That might sound odd, considering the calendar says April and not September.

Saturday will mark the annual Green and White game, which accounts for a glorified scrimmage in Spartan Stadium to send everyone into a football frenzy.

About time too, as the season is only a little more than four months away.

Spring games across the country have become a spectate, what you will see in East Lansing on what is expected to be a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon will probably be tame in comparison to other places across the country.

In Columbus, Ohio 99,391 people came out to see the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes play a game against each other.

Other teams in the Big Ten saw well over 60,000 fans show up to their annual proclamation that football is almost, sort of back.

I don’t mean to bash on spring games, I love football as much as anyone so anytime it happens, even if it is only a tease, I am for it.

But I do think it is an interesting statement about where we are as a sports nation.

No one has doubted that football is king for a long time, but to anyone with a slimmer of doubt about where football ranks in sports society all they need to do is look at football heavy campuses this time of year.

It’s even become a way that programs measure success. Head coach Mark Dantonio has put out a public decree after seeing some of his Big Ten rivals fill their stadiums. He has a number in mind that would show the nation where MSU is as a football program.

50,000. If 50,000 fans can fill the stands of Spartan Stadium for the spring game Dantonio believes it will be a sign to the country that MSU football has arrived.

As if a Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl championship in back to back years wasn’t enough of a statement.

Dantonio called the spring game attendance mark a “program goal,” which used to be championships and wins over arch-rivals.

Maybe this is all MSU has left to prove, I don’t know, but I know Dantonio putting the attendance of the spring game on the level of a “program goal,” means one thing. This scrimmage matters. Not only for position battles but for assessing where the program is in the public eye right now.

The bottom line is, 50,000 fans or not, the spring football season reaffirms where America’s sports priorities have been for a long time.

So although I may not see the merit in treating this fake Saturday like a real Saturday, there are football fans across the country who are just ready to celebrate football. Well, almost football.

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