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Commentary: Ugly In East Lansing; Uglier on Facebook and Twitter

Dr. Billi Gordon PicI don’t know which was more disappointing, Michigan losing badly to Michigan State, or the reactions to the loss by some fans on social media.

For those who missed it: being a sports fan is rewarding because when the team we support wins we feel good, even though we didn’t tangibly participate—but by being the team’s fan we share in their success. It’s called BIRGing (Basking In Reflective Glory), i.e., making someone else’s success your own.

When our team loses, we CORF (Cut Off Reflective Failure) by distancing ourselves, and the team, from the loss by saying, “they loss” opposed to “we loss”, or not wearing our team’s t-shirts, blaming the refs, the weather conditions, the coaches, specific players, etc.

It’s psychologically and emotionally less painful.  BIRGing and CORFing is what we all do with sports; it’s why they’re a multi-billion dollar industry.  There’s no shame in it, it’s just a human social reality.

Like stalking our favorite movie star crosses the line, CORFing can also cross the line.  I witnessed it on social media about Michigan on Saturday.  These are some of some of the comments I saw: “Gardner is a dumb nigger”  “Hoke is a fat joke, I hope he chokes on his next burger” “If Michigan doesn’t start winning I’m going to buy a Roll Tide T-shirt” and  “we need to go back to white quarterbacks.”

Let me start with last comment: Seriously? How absurd is that statement?  How socially irresponsible?  How do you think that makes every Black American feel who reads a statement like that?  How do you think any of those racist comments make Devin Gardner feel, as well as the other black members of the team?

Nine black QB’s started in the NFL this year; Braxton Miller vs Tommy Rees—are you new to the game of football?   Or is your life so empty, and your psychology so fragile that you have to lash out like that when Michigan loses one game in a series that it totally dominates, even if it hasn’t dominated recently.

As for the other excessive player bashing, I say this. These kids are not here to serve your psychological need to BIRG.  These are college kids, getting an education while playing a varsity sport.  Win or lose they are exceptional and should be appreciated, and even if you cannot appreciate them, like any other human being, they at least deserve respect.

These are 18 to 22-year old kids.  Most of the people bashing them are at least a decade older, usually more.  Yet, you haven’t learned by now to treat people better?

If you don’t like the way a player plays, then enroll at Michigan, walk on the team, and take his position. In meantime stop talking out of your behind and smelling up the Internet. Because even if it’s not beneath you, it’s beneath Michigan and as an alumni cheerleader and Michigan graduate, I do not want that behavior associated with my alma mater.

As for the coaches, if you can do a better job, then go see Dave Brandon, and make him see the error his ways in hiring Hoke instead of you.  But in the meantime, respect Michigan by respecting Michigan’s choices in filling coaching positions.

I did notice the worst comments were coming from people who never attended the University of Michigan.  Make no mistake about it, just because you never went to Michigan doesn’t mean you have any less right to be a Michigan fan.  However, the experience of going to Michigan instills in you something that seemingly can’t be acquired by purchasing Michigan gear.

It gives you an unwavering sense of pride and excellence that is predicated on a long history of being the best that extends beyond the current football game being played.  Any Michigan man or woman will tell you, we’d rather lose and be Michigan alums, than win and be MSU graduates.  That is because we understand The Michigan Difference.

Losing a football game to Michigan State cannot begin to tarnish Michigan’s unparalleled excellence, or put a dent in Michigan’s dominance of the rivalry between the two schools.  Of course, MSU and OSU will talk about recent history, because recent history is all they have, and more flattering than the actual history.  It’s like telling a partial truth to make one’s self look better e.g., I came in second, and omitting the fact there were only two people in the race.

Finally to the woman who threatened to buy a “Roll Tide T-Shirt”.  Send me your address and I will buy it for you.  HAIL!

Dr. Billi Gordon

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  • safiafitz

    As a current Michigan Grad student, & undergraduate alumni & cheerleader, I too will chip in for that Alabama shirt. Very well written! It’s ok to be disappointed, I’m sure no one is more upset than the team and coaches themselves, but the rude & racist upheaval on the internet is unwarranted and not welcomed.

  • safiafitz

    As a current Michigan Grad student and undergraduate alumni and cheerleader, I too will chip in for that Alabama shirt. Very well written! It’s ok to be disappointed, I’m sure no one is more upset then the team and coaches themselves, but the rude and racist upheaval on the internet is unwarranted and not welcomed!

    • Billi Gordon

      Right on Safia! HAIL!

  • Jerry Riojas

    Love this! I posted a similar rant on facebook saturday night. I did not attend Michigan, but I am a Michigander and my Team is the Wolverines! I can not stand when a so called fan talks trash about their own team after a loss. A few years ago we went 3-9, but every single day I still wore my Maize and Blue and loved my team no matter what!! I feel bad for the kids actually out there playing the game. They put their heart and souls into practicing and playing, then have to listen to all the negative statements from the people that are suppose to be supporting them, the fans. Makes me want to shake all the players hands and thank them and let them know that there are many of us out here that love them no matter what! HAIL!

    • Billi Gordon


  • Russell Gerow

    It’s like the old addage, ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’. Being a Wolverine has literal parallels to the mascot. Backing down or relinquishing to a challenge is not the nature of champions. Those that are easily disheartened are NOT WOLVERINES or fans.

    The hate coming from people is nothing more than a sign of where they are at on the evolutionary chain. The world is full of people like that, Those are like Billi pointed out as never have been or will be capable of being successful due to their own handicap.

    Go Blue

  • Robert L. Wolfe, Jr.

    They were so outclassed,…you have to thank God,…that football is just a game… (lol) .

  • umpride

    Loved your first eleven paragraphs.
    Harvard, too, can be very proud of their excellence. They may even rise above all of this pettiness, and claim that the quality of their football team has little real significance.
    We all like it when we win, but a better source of pride would be our medical hospital.

    • Billi Gordon

      agree (not necessarily about liking the first 11 paragraphs… LOL… but your point is right on.

  • Bob

    I am a ’82 U of M grad, and I have one question for you – when did they stop putting an emphasis on grammar and punctuation ??

    • Billi Gordon

      I don’t think they ever did. Sometimes, I allow my passion to overrule my proofing.

      • Dan H

        Bob’s grammar wasn’t correct either, Dr. Gordon. Maybe the pot shouldn’t be calling the kettle black? Sorry you have to deal with people like that!

  • Dan H

    Thanks Dr. Gordon! I do agree with you! Ever since the beginning of time people have done this, the only problem is that now with social media, it is even worse! It’s not a couple of guys talking about it at work, people feel so superior when they start using their keyboard for some reason?

    I must say though, I am such a Michigan fan, I was never going to make in that great school, so I joined the military. I share this only because it took me from my home state of Michigan to Austin, TX. I have seen the Longhorn fans act this way for almost 20 years!! I never thought a Michigan fan would do act or say those type of things. If anyone watched that game, to blame Gardner for anything other than not being Superman and flying over top of the D-line that was constantly in his face, is just pure ignorance.

    I am however disappointed with the O-line and feel that the coaching needs to be better there! These guys may be young, but it wasn’t their first game of the season, plus they were coming off of a bye week. If you play at Michigan, you need to play with attitude, not be passive! I feel they don’t have half of the mentality of Taylor Lewan, which can be too much at times. That’s just my opinion, and it was frustrating to see our team pushed around like they were still in high school. I know that our interior line is not far removed from that, but we are 2/3’s of the way finished with our season and had 2 bye weeks. When coach Moeller (Andy) was there, our line never got pushed around like that. So, I think the coaching definitely needs improvement. I’m not hating, just pointing out what most people see but they would rather be jerks and spout off instead of being civil and loyal.

    Thanks for the great job and Go Blue!!

  • shbkyn45

    The racist said, “Let’s go back to white quarterbacks”. How about all the black players replaced with white players, and we will see how that works out. When you think about the racism blacks face at these universities, and the millions of dollars they are pulling in for these universities, and you have racist sitting in the stand heckling and using racial slurs against black players, why don’t these black players head on back to their Historical Black Colleges, it will not interfere with their NFL prospect? Stop taking the abuse. - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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