As I’ve gotten older than college age, I’ve felt that collegiate sports have become a cesspool that should have been abolished long ago, at least the big ones. If the NBA and NFL want a developmental league, they should pay for it. But there are some childhood attractions that never go away, including the one from Ann Arbor, Michigan. No, I didn’t attend UM. With my grades, I wouldn’t have made it, even if my last name were „Ford“ (and that’s because my mother got her degree there). However, thanks to the other half of the family living there, I spent a good part of my childhood in Ann Arbor (if you’re a graduate and have ever eaten at Red Hot Lover’s/Chicago Dog House, you know). So I grew up a Michigan fan and already knew as a child what Ann Arbor smells like and feels like in the fall.
That doesn’t make it particularly special. Every college football fan has that connection to their town. I doubt the leaves in October or November in Tuscaloosa, Columbus, or Austin look all that different from those in Ann Arbor. But it’s what I know. Like how you can barely see anything of Ann Arbor from I-94 until you exit the highway. The hills are just hilly enough to shield most of the city from the highway. A kind of freshness in the air that you won’t experience elsewhere. On Saturdays, the place is bustling. The neighborhoods quickly quiet down once you leave downtown, how idyllic they are, yet everything seems to revolve not just around the campus, but also around the stadium.
Walking to that stadium on Saturdays can make a child feel like every person on Earth is going to the Big House. As jaded as I have become, that feeling still doesn’t seem to go away.