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Holding onto Irish pride

Anneliese Woolford | Tuesday, September 16, 2003

This past weekend, accompanied by nine of my closest friends, I went home. Conveniently, home happens to be in Novi, Mich., a mere 30 miles from Ann Arbor and the “Big House.”

I have lived in this area my entire life and, therefore, have had to face the hounding of U of M fans for my devotion to the Irish since as far back as I can remember. While my peers in school decked themselves in blue and maize, I sported blue and gold – a much better color combination, if you ask me.

Up until last week, I had no intention of ever entering the Big House. But, when a friend managed to find a set of tickets at a reasonable price, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support the Irish as they continued one of the most noted rivalries in college sports history. Hearing of the arrogant nature that exemplifies a majority of Michigan fans (at least those I’ve come across) failed to shock me into believing I would encounter behavior that I hadn’t faced before.

Boy, was I wrong.

From the drive to Ann Arbor to the drive home, there was rarely a moment when I, my friends or anyone in green wasn’t the target of derogatory comments and actions generated from opposing fans – and derogatory is putting it nicely. In fact, I can count two Michigan fans I met that at least showed some civility and class. Two. The university must be so proud.

By the time we entered the stadium, I had had enough of getting flicked off, being told to “F- the Irish,” getting pushed and other behavior I can’t even mention in print. Luckily, our seats were in an area primarily occupied by Irish fans, aside from a 40-year-old Michigan man and his wife in front of us. Without a doubt, this man displayed the most obnoxious, haughty and immature behavior I have ever seen.

Despite the requests of those in our section, representing both Notre Dame and Michigan, the man failed to compose himself. Instead, he and his wife shouted explicit comments directly into our faces and ignored the fact that a seven-year-old boy was sitting only a seat away.

“I apologize,” another Michigan fan said to me. “Some of us are true fans and some are just a-holes.”

Perhaps there were a few exceptions Saturday, but overall, Michigan fans treated us (their guests) in an extreme manner I have yet to see occur on Notre Dame’s campus. So congratulations, Wolverines, I suppose you did surprise me, but despite the upset of a game, at least we left with something to be proud of – dignity.