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Michigan State Student Michael Hrit Reflects On Being A Spartan Fan – From A Distance

Basketball
Michael Hrit
/

COVID took fans out of the stands at MSU games, and Hrit realized what was missing.

Some of my best memories at Michigan State revolve around sports. From going to Ann Arbor to see the football team beat Michigan in 2017, to making the trip with my friends to the Final Four in Minneapolis, sports at MSU have provided me with a lot of great memories during my time as a student.  

Michigan State’s athletics played a role in why I chose to become a Spartan. I remember watching Michigan State play Notre Dame in football my senior year of high school. There was something about that game that sparked the realization that I wanted to be in East Lansing the following year. I wanted to go to a school that had teams playing in big games. And on that night, nothing felt bigger to me. The following afternoon, I turned in my application to Michigan State University. 

My high school friend group was made up of about 10 guys. Five went to Michigan State, four went to Michigan and one went to Western Michigan. While we didn’t go to the same school, almost all of us were in Ann Arbor for the weekend of Michigan vs. Michigan State.  

It was one of those weekends that I’ll always remember. It started with me and the two other MSU students getting to the UM dorms. We had already heard some stories about Markley Hall, but it was a surreal experience. The most alarming part was seeing the contraption used to trap roaches.   

The banter that night is really what made that weekend so fun. Obviously MSU winning helps but catching up with my best friends was great. Even though we had just started college six weeks ago, so much had happened. Some guys had gotten into relationships since school started, some had gotten out of relationships when school started. Not to mention all the other aspects of college.  

The game itself wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the buildup to it. It finished with a final score of 14-10 and the second half was played during a torrential downpour which led to sloppy play from both sides. 

I also have a lot of memories from watching the basketball team, too. In February of my junior year, College Gameday came to visit East Lansing during basketball season. 

They had come the year prior, and my group of friends had pretty bad seats. It wasn’t because we weren’t out there early enough but because we lined up on the wrong side of the stadium. With our newfound knowledge, we knew we could be in good seats if we were there early enough. We decided to line up at 8:00 a.m. Thankfully, there weren’t too many people ahead of us at that time in the morning.  

We really wanted to be on television. My friend created a sign we thought was clever. The poster had the “Crying Jordan” meme photoshopped onto the Colorado University logo. It was making fun of all the CU fans who were upset Mel Tucker left Colorado. 

Keep in mind, Gameday happened three days after Tucker signed to become MSU’s coach. Like I said, we thought we were hilarious. 

Well, apparently so did other people. Because we got there so early, we were able to get seats in the second row. Our sign was shown on tv multiple times, it was tweeted about repeatedly by people in the MSU twitter community and it made it into the Lansing State Journal. I would say it was a success. 

Basketball
Credit Michael Hrit
Hrit with MSU men's basketball coach Tom Izzo.

When the 2020 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament was cancelled on March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, my friends and I couldn’t believe it. As the week progressed, it felt like a domino effect of cancellations until finally it was March Madness’s turn to be the victim. It was surreal to think that just a few days prior I was in a packed Breslin Center watching the Spartans win a Big Ten Championship. That was my last time watching an MSU game in person.  

As my senior year got closer, the Big Ten voted to play football on Sept. 16. I was pretty disappointed to see that no fans would be allowed. Because going to games was the source of some of my favorite memories, I was pretty upset when I realized later in the year that we wouldn’t be able to go to basketball games either.  

But that didn’t stop us from watching games from home. Just because we couldn’t be at the stadiums didn’t mean we would stop rooting for our teams. The coolest moment from this past year was going over to my friend's apartment and watching the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game. 

Watching the game from my roommate’s apartment was more fun than I expected. Being separated from our friends at Michigan didn’t stop the trash talking. If anything, it increased it. With every bad throw, and there were plenty that game, messages from the opposing side would come bombarding in.  

While it was great to spend the day with my friends, and go back and forth with the guys over at Michigan, it wasn’t the same. My friends and I found that to be the case throughout the year. You can’t replace the atmosphere of tens of thousands of exhilarated fans, all who are desperate for their team to win. You can yell at the screen, you can fist bump after touchdowns, but it isn’t the same as being there in person and rooting for your team.  

Miles Bridges
Credit Michael Hrit
Hrit (left) with former MSU men's basketball star Miles Bridges (middle).

While it’s great that Michigan State won these particular games, it’s never been about whether MSU won or lost. The thing with sports is that it’s been a great way for me and my friends to find ways to find ways to be together no matter how busy we’ve been.

From my freshman year to my junior year, there was always a time we expected to see each other whether it be at Spartan Stadium, Breslin Center or one of the intramural sports we were playing. Sports was the common denominator of our friend group. You could tell that was missing throughout our senior year, as we didn’t hangout nearly as much as we would have in a normal year. And even though we didn’t make as many memories senior year as we typically would have, I’m sure we’ll make up for it in the future as alumni.  

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