April 1, 2009

Michigan (State)

This is why I watch basketball. From the beginning of each season in November, I invest my time into watching and listening to the Spartans play basketball in the anticipation that maybe this year they'll go to the Final Four to play for a championship in front of the whole country.

And now they're there - just like my bracket predicted - and I have to watch. I have to see them play their final game of the season, whether it's Saturday night against Connecticut, the overdog, riding out a recruiting scandal, or Monday night against Villanova, another underdog, or UNC, the juggernaut with the national fanbase, the team of players who could easily have walked into the NBA but came back to win the national championship they missed last year, the team that drubbed us in the same building in December. I'll watch with as much enthusiasm as anyone, glued to the TV to see if my Spartans will get the glory I hoped they would when the season began.

And they get to do it all in Detroit.

Naturally, that's a story line for the national media. I knew, before MSU beat Louisville, that we were going to see stories about this being "a ray of sunshine" in a dark state (in the words of our governor in an ESPN interview today). I'm not surprised to see stories like this one and this one. They're good articles, and I don't deny the reality that seeing our guys play for a national championship will be a nice distraction for some people. But they still bug me a little.

I should tell you that I hate strongly dislike every article, story, anecdote, commercial, idea, sentence, paragraph, essay, joke, poem, eulogy, sermon and musical that starts with "In this economy..." We don't need any more reminders what it's like to live "in this economy." Michigan has been in our recession for almost ten years, and it isn't news anymore. The angle is tired and old and no one should be using it to sell newspapers, let alone siding and fried chicken.

But what really bothers me is that our fine state has been rebranded to align with Detroit's continuing decay. I can't speak from an outsiders perspective, but when every good thing to come out of Michigan becomes "a ray of sunshine" for us, I get the feeling people think we're all kicking empty bean cans around our doldrums, looking for jobs and sewing patches on our trousers while we wait for things to get better. So when this basketball game comes along, we all get to forget about how abysmal and unbearably awful our little unemployed lives are for a minute. Of course, on Tuesday reality will sink in and we'll go off to find our bean cans again.

All I know is that we're all going to rally around the home-town pride. Well, most of us are, save for a few proud Wolverine fans. But the rest of us are going to sports bars and ordering pizzas and buying t-shirts, like we always would, because we want to see our guys win, because we waited for it all season, because we want it anyway. Not because we need a distraction "in this economy."

So props to my Spartans. I've waited all year for this weekend, and I couldn't be more pleased to see them still playing. Besides, all of the other storylines are better. Playing 80 miles from home is good. The 30-year anniversary of their first championship is good. Seeing a team of mostly Michigan guys beat a team that unfairly recruited players using an agent is good. A potential rematch against UNC in the same building is good. Whatever happens, it has been a good season.


ThisGirl527 said...

Why would ESPN bother with our silly governor.

She is Canadian.

They are not discussing the iditarod.

Jon said...

As much flack as Grand Rapids gets for being too wholesome because of our DeVoses, Van Andels, and Secchias...we're booming (see the cranes?). We are the opposite of Detroit. And look who runs Detroit.