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The 12th Man

For having the largest crowds at just about every home game, Michigan Stadium is not as intimidating as it should be. There are multiple reasons for this, such as the outward architecture of the stands, and the lack of anything for sound to reflect off of, down to the field. However, the most important issue that leads to this problem is the lack of fan involvement.

At every field in the country, the student section is expected to be the leader in creating havoc for opposing offenses. However, at most schools, there is substantial support from almost every section of the crowd. The best examples of this are SEC schools. At Michigan, however, this is not present. The alumni, who occupy the middle of both sides of the field, are most guilty of being too quiet. The end opposite the student section is actually louder than I woul have expected (as I experienced on the field for the Penn State game), but still not that loud. Though the students may use this apathy as an excuse for not being enthusiastic, it should instead be motivation to be that much more of a factor. As it is my area of experience, the student section will be the topic of this article.

The first thing I'd like to discuss is the vocal noise that the student section makes. First off, not everyone even makes noise. There are two groups that are guilty of this. First is those who just couldn't care less about the game, and only go because everyone else does. They are essentially a lost cause. The other group, however, is about as frustrating as it gets. These people are the same ones who bitch about how quiet the atmosphere is in the stadium, and are constantly calling for Lloyd Carr's head (and Tommy Amaker's). These are the people who waltz around saying they are the only "true" fans, when this is clearly not the case. Among students who DO make noise, however, there is still a problem. It seems as though everyone is missing the point about making noise. They think that their voice simply has to be present, regardless of volume. This has always bothered me, as the point is to be as loud as possible.

Another issue I take with the students is the other means of making noise. I mayh be the only one on this side of the fence, but I think that the "key play" is stupid, and should be done away with ASAP. It is unoriginal, and not loud. Plus, students seem to think that jingling their keys absolves them of their yelling duty. Given a choice between the two, I would much rather have people making vocal noise. If I ever see another freshman "hilariously" waving the keycard to his room again, I think I'm going to have to punch his lights out.

Other than these two forms of making noise, there isn't a whole lot going on in the student section. The cowbells are out there, but those are for more of cheers that take place randomly, rather than specifically when the team is on defense. I'd love to see students stomping on the bleachers, and making other types of noise (bring noisemakers, people!) to help out when the team is on defense.

One last (smaller) issue that I have is that there aren't a whole lot of coordinated cheers throughout the student section. I'd like to see more of those, such as chants, etc. I will be so happy if the marching band learns the Super Mario Bros. theme to accompany big plays by Manningham next year.

The stadium does cause the volume to be lower than it would be in another stadium with the same fan enthusiasm. However, the fans must stop using this as an excuse, and start pumping up for the games.

“The 12th Man”