Michigan football home games are the definition of tradition.
Every Saturday afternoon (or evening), over 100,000 fans would fill the stadium seats of the place affectionately known as “The Big House.” And even if you can’t get into Michigan Stadium, there’s still the tailgates. The parking lot of Pioneer High School, which is right across the street, is fantastic entertainment.
There are interactive games, beer, food, beer, and outdoor activities for all ages. By the way, did I mention that there is beer?
The ambiance is like none other. Michigan students would roam the streets of South University in their maize and blue Wolverine gear. Along with that, every bar and social spot within a five-mile radius of the university would be at capacity. And if Michigan had a big win, “It’s great to be a MICHIGAN WOLVERINE” could be heard at any moment following it.
None of that happened last Saturday before or after Michigan’s 27-24 upset loss to Michigan State. Honestly, it was the furthest thing from it.
Michigan football was dead without fans.
COVID-19 is to blame for that. The deadly virus that has claimed over 230,000 lives is still affecting many’s livelihoods daily. In Michigan alone, there have been close to 8,000 deaths this year. Professional sports were all affected by the deadly pandemic, with attendance restrictions in place at just about every stadium and arena.
That brings us back to this past Saturday.
Michigan vs. Michigan State is a revered rivalry in this state, but with no fans being allowed into Michigan Stadium, Wolverine fans found little reason to be excited.
Ever parents of the players.
Zach Carpenter’s Mom was ready to support her son proudly, even under “bizarre” circumstances.
Let’s say you are the parent of a son playing college football at a revered program. Before you watch him take the field in a significant football game, you are enjoying pregame festivities with your friends. However, instead of partaking in the usual commotion synonymous with a Michigan home football game, you and your crew of friends are the liveliest group of people in the city.
Carrie Carpenter, mother of Michigan center Zach Carpenter just experienced this feeling.
Parents of Michigan players were the select few allowed to attend last Saturday’s game due to the current attendance restrictions. Before she headed over to the stadium, she shared several thoughts with Woodward Sports. For one, she made sure to drive home the point that Michigan’s football program was exceptional in handling the COVID-19. She never felt out of the loop on any news regarding Zach’s health.
Nevertheless, the thrill of watching Michigan football without fans was non-existent.
“It’s totally bizarre, kind of like a ghost town,” said Carpenter. “It’s very different. We have to accommodate COVID, and that’s cool. We’ll do that, but it’s definitely a different experience.”
“Like we normally tailgate, all the parents are allowed, and we walk over to the stadium. There’s no tailgating [this time]. We’re allowed to park in the stadium about an hour before the game. We go in, we leave, you know it’s totally different, and it’s only us.”
Let’s not do this again…next year.
There will be no fans allowed at Michigan Stadium for the foreseeable future. It’s the unfortunate effect of the pandemic. Wolverine fans did not want to see Michigan State get the upset victory. I mean that’s pretty obvious. Despite the loss, it’s safe to surmise they do not want another repeat of Saturday’s lack of excitement for a rivalry game.
Sadly, they have no choice.