Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Tried-and-true sports loyalists…But why?

Last weekend, I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to watch the Badgers take on Michigan.

It was easily the worst road trip of my life, but it provided a rare opportunity to reflect on a question that every sports fan faces: why would a person who has a functioning TV four feet from his bed travel seven hours to watch his team play for less than three hours in a hostile arena packed with thousands of fans who hate him?

Furthermore, why would a person who has two midterms scheduled for the day after the game embark on such a journey?


Well, it all started about two months ago, when a friend from Michigan called to inform me that he and his friends were going home for spring break, leaving 10 unused tickets to the Badgers? game in Ann Arbor. Unaware of my exam schedule, I gladly offered to take the tickets off his hands for $10 apiece.

I had no trouble finding nine friends willing to accompany me on the 14-hour round trip to Ann Arbor, and the 10 of us packed into two cars and headed for Crisler Arena. We had all the essentials: Grateful Red shirts, Devin Harris jerseys, UW shorts and warm-up pants, cardinal and white beads and face paint, Badger hats, and even a custom-made cardinal-and-white striped dress.

We threw on the UW marching band?s CD, which features many hits that have recently been absent from Leckrone?s Kohl Center playlist, including ?Swingtown.? With a hearty tribute to Section O, we were on our way.

The first few hours of the trip were fairly uneventful, as my friends sang along to ?If you want to be a Badger …? and ?Varsity? while I dutifully pored over my astronomy review sheet. But as I reached the end of Chapter 1, things took a turn for the worse when my friend?s Chevy Blazer started making loud, strange noises.

We pulled into a parking lot in Schaumberg, Ill., and called AAA. A tow truck arrived just after we decided that five of us would drive the embattled Blazer back to Madison while the remaining five would continue on to Ann Arbor. After an emotional debate, we determined which five would make the trip and the groups parted ways, promising to call if anything went wrong.

That call came less than 15 minutes later to inform us that the Blazer had stopped running. While the unfortunate five planned their next move, a friendly police officer informed them that the Blazer must be towed within two hours to avoid being impounded.

After canceling an AAA tow truck for the second time in less than an hour, the group arranged for a tow from a private company to the tune of $185 and found a hotel for the night. As all normal taxis were gone by that time in the evening, the beleaguered five rolled into Motel 6 in a limo.

Meanwhile, the other five of us arrived in Kalamazoo, Mich., where we stayed for the night with a very generous woman who gave us four bedrooms and all the pancakes we could eat. I spent the night feverishly studying astronomy and journalism on the top bunk of a small child?s bunk bed.

In the morning, we donned our Badgers gear and headed to Ann Arbor to watch the game we had traveled all this way to see. Clad in full UW regalia, we painted our faces cardinal and white in the Crisler arena men?s room and took our seats in the student section … well, about 60 rows above the student section, actually.

From our perch in the upper level, we made lots of new friends and got to see our Badgers lose to a mediocre opponent and fall out of the top spot in the Big Ten standings. Our new friends gave us a very warm exit, and we kindly wished them luck in the NIT.

That was pretty much it. A seven-hour drive to witness an unimpressive performance from the Badgers and make a bunch of Michigan fans want to kill us for two and a half hours.

And then there was the drive back to Madison. A few hours into the return trip, we were pulled over for speeding and my friend learned that his probationary license is not recognized in the state of Michigan.

While he was being charged with driving without a license, a pair of friendly police officers frisked each of us individually and urged us to admit to carrying guns, knives, marijuana and cocaine. Unconvinced that we had none of these things in our possession, the officers conducted a thorough search of our vehicle.

After tearing through our belongings and failing to find anything more incriminating than Badgers gear and junk food, the friendly officers confiscated my friend?s license, ordered that someone else drive the rest of the way home, and sent us on our way. A few minutes later, the same friendly officer pulled us over again with my other friend?s license, which the officer had failed to return after examining it to ensure that it was one of the types of licenses that the state of Michigan recognizes.

After a series of 40-cent tolls, which averaged around 95 cents due to consistent mechanical failures involving the coin-collecting machines, we finally arrived at Ogg Hall. And since the trip could not have ended any other way, the car would not start when my friend tried to take it to a parking lot, so we had to push it to a spot in front of the Kohl Center before I could finish studying for the two midterms that were scheduled for 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. the next morning.

So why did I put myself through all of this? Why did I drive 14 hours out of my way the day before taking two midterms when I could have simply turned on the TV for two and a half hours? Why do sports fans around the country routinely travel hundreds of miles and spend hundreds of dollars to watch their teams play?

Are we crazy, or is there something about the games that somehow makes it all worthwhile?

I?m not sure what it is, but I?ll see you in Ann Arbor again next year.

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