I 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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