- It’s grating on the eyes to encounter a word in the middle of a sentence that looks like something someone accidentally typed when they rested their elbow on the keyboard.
- It’s uncreative. As uncreative as, say, Michigan fans calling MSU “little brother” or calling Ohio State “O$U.”
- Most importantly: It conveys a sense that MSU fans will only really be happy when we clearly feel athletically and/or morally superior to Michigan.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no particular fondness for our maize and blue rivals. When I turn on a Michigan football game, more often that not I root against them. I do this, I think, for the following reasons, in descending order of importance:
- I have a flaw in my mental wiring that causes me to almost always root for the underdog in any sporting event not involving a team I am a fan of. (Note: Michigan may technically be an underdog the rest of the season, but I still don’t consider them an underdog in the cosmic sense.)
- A sense that football recruiting is, to some extent, a zero sum game and Michigan’s loss is our gain. (This may be less true now with Rodriguez and the spread offense at Michigan. It doesn’t look like Michigan’s all that focused on in-state guys at this point. So maybe this is where my lack of recruiting knowledge has led me afield.)
- A lot of Michigan fans exude a vexing arrogance of the V-neck sweater variety.
(Basketball is different. It’s been hard to get too worked up about the Michigan basketball team for the last decade; more often than not, they’ve been the underdog. And there’s enough quality basketball recruits to go around. Plus I think an in-state rivalry approaching what Duke and UNC have would be good for the MSU basketball program. That may actually be true for football, too.)
But, ultimately, my happiness as an MSU fan is defined by MSU’s success, or lack thereof. Sure, Michigan’s loss to Toledo provided a moment of schadenfreude, but did it make MSU’s win over Northwestern any more or less important? Would the 2000 national championship have been any less exhilarating if, say, Michigan had been an NCAA tournament team that year?
And can someone point to an elite college program in either football or basketball whose fans define themselves as much by the failures of their in-state rival as they do by their own successes? Michigan State University has the potential to be one of the top athletic schools in the entirely country. We already have one of the half dozen most respected men’s basketball programs in the country. The football program shows every sign of becoming a perennial top 25 team under Mark Dantonio. And we’re pretty good at a bunch of other sports, too.
So why not focus on our own success?
Final comment: This post was prompted, in part, by the use of “scUM” in a couple comment earlier this week. Don’t read this as an indictment of those particular commenters. I understand that it’s become standard operating procedure. If people want to use it in comments, I’m not going to lose sleep over it or delete the comments. But I do want to go on record as to what I think about it. (Instead, I’ve noticed I sound a bit McCainesque in referring to “our friends down the road in Ann Arbor.”)