This past week was Rivalry Week in college football, where two rival schools play each other to end the regular season. One of the biggest rivalries in college football, if not the biggest, is the one between Ohio State and Michigan. They play each other every year during Rivalry Week in what has been dubbed The Game. This year was no exception as the two teams clashed on Saturday.
As some of you are aware, I’m an Ohio State fan. I was off work on Saturday. I didn’t have any family obligations during the afternoon. It should have been the perfect opportunity for me to watch my team play their biggest rival without any interruptions.
But I didn’t watch The Game. Just like I didn’t watch it last year. Or the year before that. In fact, it’s probably been 5 or 6 years since I’ve watched it. I just can’t do it anymore. When I think about The Game, or even the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan as a whole, it doesn’t excite me as much as it used to. It used to be fun. Now it’s just depressing, and the reason it’s depressing is that it’s filled with so much hate.
I’ve been out in public wearing Ohio State gear and been accosted by random Michigan fans. I’ve seen Michigan fans get treated the exact same way by other Ohio State fans. Imagine that. Strangers yelling and berating each other over something as ridiculous as liking a different football team. I’m certainly not going to hate someone just because they like Michigan. Most of my family, people I love very much, are Michigan fans. The fact that they wear maize and blue instead of scarlet and gray isn’t going to change how I feel about them.
On top of that, a lot of fans on both sides take the game far too seriously. They act as if The Game is a matter of life and death. It’s not. It’s just a football game. The universe isn’t going to implode if your team doesn’t win. Even my family can be guilty of this. Some of them, while intending it to be nothing more than good-natured banter, bring it up so much that I’m starting to think they feel that I have nothing more important going on in my life than my favorite college football team.
Now, I will admit that I used to be far more emotionally attached to the teams I rooted for. When one of my teams lost, I’d be in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Or I’d feel the need to defend them if someone said something bad about them, which would occasionally lead to arguments. Not only do I find such behavior pointless now, I also don’t have the energy to put in to caring that much about something that’s a recreation. Watching football should be fun, not stressful.
Maybe someday I’ll go back to watching The Game, enjoying the football and the tradition of it all, but I don’t see that happening when I feel so much negative energy from it. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, there is no rivalry and The Game is just that, a game like any other. Does that make me a bad fan? Possibly, but I’d rather be a bad fan and treat everyone with the respect they deserve than be a good fan who’s an asshole.
P.S. Congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines for winning on Saturday.