Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Raison D'Etre

It is times like these that we sit and wonder; why do we do the things that we do? It is a question that often produces nothing but teeth-gnashing and cold sweats at 3:32 in the morning. I think I do it for reason X, but I'm not even really sure.

For many, the underlying motive of their life, at a given point in time, includes such sensible, rational things as raising a family, furthering a career, helping people, and so on. These are all nice things. People do these things because they are expected, but it is the other things that people do that make them what they are, that allow us to know that they are in fact different from their ambitious, family-raising neighbors. After all, we are all different, even in the things that we share an interest in.

While I do not enjoy talking about myself, I will for the purposes of this post. It is an average day in May, and yet, I cannot sleep. Why can I not sleep? A double-edged entity that attacks from both sides like a 19th century pincer formation refuses me the pleasure of doing so. That entity, plain and simple, is college football. Now, despite this less-than-flattering depiction, I would not have it any other way.

I am a Michigan fan. For the informed, that is a trying (physically, mentally and emotionally) thing in and of itself. But, I won't get into that for now. I will only lay the groundwork.

As I type this sentence, it is 2:21 a.m. here in my hometown in northern Alabama. On a normal football Saturday, I'd be waking up to begin the day in approximately 4 hours. But today is not a football Saturday, and for that reason I am not at ease. As I try to think about my reasons for living, other than the aforementioned, college football comes first. At the same time, I realize the ridiculousness of such a thought. I am not exactly covering new ground; college football fanaticism is a pseudo-disease that affects millions across this land.

College football is a funny thing. Its fans flock to college campuses across the country every fall Saturday to watch their team. Some of these people didn't even attend said school. Some didn't develop their maniacal, darn near fundamentalist support for their team till their college years. Some support a team because their father does.

It is late and I have mixed feelings about this. I have many things to say about the sport, and my team, but, then again, so do many other people. I fear that it is perhaps possible that I have nothing new to say; I hope that is not the case. I have had the pleasure of enjoying many informative, witty and well-written blogs across the blogosphere, and it is my intent to provide something interesting from a perspective that is perhaps slightly different than many others. I have had the opportunity to live all over the United States, and have been privy to the witnessing of college football across the Midwest, as well as in my current locale, the Deep South.

I love Michigan. I love everything about it. However, there was a time when I only loved Michigan. I haven't always necessarily respected the beauty of the college game as a whole. As I've grown older, I've come to realize that college football is more than just Michigan. I will of course attempt to relay my thoughts on the weekly news of Michigan football, but I plan to cover schools in other conferences. Who knows what will happen with this.

But for now, it is May, and all I or anyone else like me can do is pine for September. Sometimes I imagine college football as a country song (no, not that Kenny Chesney nonsense).

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry

The offseason is long and painful, and the season too short when it finally arrives. The season itself is often painful and full of moments where you sit on a hard stadium bench with your face in your hands, the sweat rolling unimpeded into your disbelieving eyes--or in your living room sitting at the end of your couch as if you wanted to fall of the face of some flat Earth--that you wonder why you keep coming back. But you do. Like a country song, it's sad. It's a sad song for every team in the nation but one. Michigan was not that one in 2009, nor in 2008, nor for many years before that. It was that one in 1997, but even that seems like it was long, long ago.

Most people don't possess much in the way of specific memory of the innocent single digit years of their life. I was 8 on January 1, 1998, and I remember it vividly.

That has got to stand for something.


  1. I love your prose, Fouad, and hope you'll be blogging for a long, long time. I am an alumna from such eons ago that I remember when Michigan fans did not fully expect to win most, if not every, football game. I remember an MSU game in 1962 (I think) when MSU scored 3 touchdowns in about as many minutes. Talk about leaving demoralized!

    The rivalry with MSU was more civil on some levels than it is now. UM students organized to commit pranks in EL. One time, some students hired a helicopter to dump maize and blue confetti on the MSU team during their Friday practice. All night, male UM students guarded the monuments around central campus from vandalism (mostly green spray paint) by the MSU students.

    Regardless, every Sunday in the fall, we watched the Bump and Duffy show on TV regardless of what opponent each team played. Outstanding plays and participants were presented on the air and were celebrated by both coaches.

    Meanwhile, keep up the good work and watch a much improved team next fall.

  2. Thanks anon. It's nice to hear get some perspective on the pre-Bo years of Michigan football. I believe the students still guard the M on the Diag before the State game (in fact, they did it in '08 if I'm not mistaken).

    Yes, I plan to write more...and hopefully I'll have a good team to write about come fall. Go Blue.