First off, I want to apologize to all Gophers hockey fans who cheer their hearts out every single Gophers home game. This season I have been a sub-par fan and truly owe you die hard fans an apology for my lackluster enthusiasm.
I tried to make up for being a sorry excuse of a fan at home by following our beloved Gophers to Madison, Wisc. for their weekend series versus the Badgers. During the series, I quickly found myself longing to be back among the maroon and gold faithful at Mariucci Arena. I was bombarded with insults the whole weekend that seemingly would have broken my spirits and ruined my birthday on Friday. But it only made me realize how great Mariucci Arena and the Gophers fans are, and how great the Badgers fans think they are.
First of all, fans in Madison truly believe that hockey is “big” in Wisconsin. During Friday night’s game, Wisconsin paraded around its two members of the 1980 Olympic hockey team. The crowd went nuts as the announcer said, ” Ö players from these two schools represented over half of the 1980 Olympic team Ö ” OK, so you sent two of the 10 and we sent eight, plus a head coach. Congratulations, you are officially the Wannabe State of Hockey.
Speaking of the crowd, the student section at Wisconsin is a joke. I couldn’t help but laugh at their impression of Duke’s Cameron Crazies, jumping up and down screaming “Ohhhh.” Apparently the students forgot that the Badgers men’s basketball team spent the afternoon at Williams Arena getting, as the Wisconsin State Journal put it, “Grier-ended” by the Gophers.
But what truly proved the students’ stupidity were the “Badger rejects” chant, and the “overrated” chant. Now everyone knows you only yell “overrated” when you upset a team, and the Badgers were ranked higher than the Gophers, so Friday’s win hardly qualified as an upset. But it was the “Badger rejects” that really made me laugh. Do they honestly think that any of the Gophers players grew up thinking, “I want to grow up and play hockey for the Badgers?” I’m sorry to burst your bubble over there in Madison, but high school hockey players from Minnesota and North Dakota don’t dream of wearing the Badgers red and white during their collegiate years. But if it justifies your being a Badgers fan, then go ahead and think that. I can understand Badgers fans longing to use this rather snide cheer. But before they can, the state of Wisconsin needs another competitive Division I hockey team, whose players might have preferred to be Badgers athletes.
What truly rewarded me for being a Gophers fan was Saturday night’s come-from-behind victory. I have been to the NHL All-Star game, Super Bowl XXVII and the Daytona 500, but Saturday’s game blew them all out of the water.
Now I have to be honest and say that my enthusiasm was slightly curbed due to the fact that my parents were sitting on either side of me. While my word choice was limited, after each Gophers goal a handful of Badgers fans quickly turned around and noticed a child in a Gophers jersey and gold wig screaming “sieve”, while chopping one arm like an Atlanta Braves fan.
I couldn’t help but grin and yell louder. But what truly made my weekend was watching the Badgers fans pile out of Kohl Center with 42 seconds remaining in the game, because Barry Tallackson had just erased all hope of the Badgers’ first sweep of the Gophers in four years. Although I could not physically show my emotion at that moment, in my mind I proudly raised one specific digit on each hand to show the Badgers fans that the Gophers, and their fans, are truly number one.
C.J. Spang is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]