Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Column: Sports are a key part of the Spartan experience

April 12, 2019
MSU Izzone students cheer during the game against Florida Gulf Coast University at Breslin Center on Nov. 11, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Eagles, 106-82.
MSU Izzone students cheer during the game against Florida Gulf Coast University at Breslin Center on Nov. 11, 2018. The Spartans defeated the Eagles, 106-82. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

On Aug. 31, 2018, I sat in my dorm putting on forest green eyeliner and silver glitter eyeshadow. I went to a tailgate with my friend, before going to my first football game as an MSU student against Utah State.

I showed up early. I swayed during the alma mater. I yelled the very few lyrics I knew of the fight song, before learning it in its entirety by the end of the game.

In high school I wasn’t very interested in our school sports, but during that first MSU game, school sports were the only thing that mattered.

Every play — and every profanity — was chanted in unison by the student section; every “Go Green” was followed by “Go White.” Those were the only things that mattered in that moment, as everything outside of Spartan Stadium vanished. All that remained was a community of Spartans cheering for our team.

I had only moved in a few days prior, but I immediately knew I was going to love my time at this school. Sports bring students together here. We rally around our teams, and make a community of it all.

We follow our athletes on social media, and brag about having classes with them. We eat Dairy Store ice cream named after our coaches, like Dantonio's Double Fudge Fake and Izzo's Malted Madness.

MSU is a community that rallies around our sports programs, no matter what. Through exhilarating rivalry wins and heartbreaking Final Four losses, first-round upsets and last-second Hail Marys, we rally around our team. Whether watching games in-person or on TV, our sports are a huge part of the Spartan experience.

I’ve heard the phrase “Once a Spartan, always a Spartan” many times, but before my first game, I didn’t get it. I grew up a University of Michigan fan, and was convinced that nothing would shake my love for the maize and blue or the big block M. But there I was on Oct. 20, 2018, shivering in the cold, having hail fall on me, cheering for the Spartans.

Of course, they lost 21-7 in a miserable game, but getting to witness my first rivalry game surrounded by Spartans in the student section made the experience worth it.

I realized that the outcome of the games isn’t what’s important, the emotion and passion every person watching the game has is what makes it all worth it.

MSU football had a rough season. We lost four of our nine conference games, and a majority of our wins were less than impressive, but it's a given that student section tickets will continue to sell.

No matter how rough the season is, people will show up to games. People will support their teams, because the passion during the chants and cheers are what makes it all worth it.

The sports teams at this university are responsible for some of the best experiences I’ve had here. Through them, I’ve felt a sense of unity between a group of thousands of strangers.

To be able to say I’m a part of a community that incredible is really cool.

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