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Spartan student athletes discuss their view of the U-M rivalry

October 28, 2016
MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. (23) shakes hands with Michigan head coach Erik Bakich (23) before the game against Michigan on April 29, 2016 at Ray Fisher Stadium at Wilpon Baseball Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines, 4-3.
MSU head coach Jake Boss Jr. (23) shakes hands with Michigan head coach Erik Bakich (23) before the game against Michigan on April 29, 2016 at Ray Fisher Stadium at Wilpon Baseball Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Spartans were defeated by the Wolverines, 4-3. —
Photo by Nic Antaya | and Nic Antaya The State News

If you are from Michigan, the MSU vs. University of Michigan rivalry is something many Michiganians are born into. Whether you're a sports fan or not, this rivalry has something to look forward to every time the Spartans and the Wolverines face off.

Competition.

Some people are stuck in the middle of the rivalry, a "State of Michigan" fan who likes to see both teams do well, while others prefer one school and end up going to the other, which is the case of Brandon Hughes, junior outfielder on MSU's baseball team.

When Hughes was in high school, he was offered a scholarship to play at both U-M and MSU. Initially, Hughes committed to U-M, but eventually chose MSU. 

“When Michigan State plays Michigan, everyone knows that weekend, whether it be football or basketball — That day everyone knows what’s going on," Hughes said. "You see people wearing green and white and blue and yellow. Everybody knows what’s going on, and you can just tell there is a different energy wherever you’re at."

For the athletes who wear the green and white, this rivalry holds a lot of meaning for them. 

“It means everything, speaking on the behalf of our whole team, playing Michigan is a huge deal and beating them is even better,” Will Salter, junior catcher on MSU's baseball team, said. “It’s everything when it comes to sports, whether it's football or baseball or anything, it's a real important game and something that is always fun and entertaining to watch."

The rivalry can also leave a few houses divided when it comes to rooting for U-M or MSU. Salter said he has seen this firsthand, as his younger brother attends U-M and his older brother, Blaise Salter, also played baseball for MSU. Salter said a house divided can lead to a lot of smack talk.

“It’s always a friendly rivalry in the house, there is a lot of smack talk going on … it's a lot of competition," Salter said. "Game day is definitely a huge day."

While the rivalry is something that is easily understood for Michiganians, it can be difficult for the athletes and students who come from out of state to grasp the intensity of the rivalry. This goes for Kaden Keller, a freshman defender on MSU men's soccer team, who came to MSU from St. Louis.

“There isn’t a similar rivalry close to me, the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is a rare rivalry and you don’t come across that often,” Keller said.

Although the rivalry can be hard to understand sometimes, the atmosphere during the rivalry games can change an outsider's perspective on the rivalry.

“Being from out of state, you realize how important this rivalry is to the in-state students — growing up in the schools, they've witnessed this rivalry throughout their life, and being around that atmosphere definitely impacted me to hate Michigan,” Keller said.

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