This weekend, for the second time this season, the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans will square off on the basketball court. In any other year, this would be nothing more than the usual bitter rivalry that has occasionally turned ugly over the years; however, this year, it is a chance for both schools to stand together as one.
On Monday, there was a horrific shooting at the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, MI. While more details are still emerging surrounding the attack, this terrorist event has shaken the entire state to its core. While the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has turned into one of the most bitter rivalries in college athletics over the past few decades, the sports aspect has faded into the background of what has become a life-changing week for everyone involved.
One thought that I have had about the entire situation and my role in it is the “little brother” debate, which remains common among fans of both schools. Ever since former running back Mike Hart called the Spartans Michigan’s “little brother” back in 2007, both schools have been insistent that they are the older sibling in the rivalry. It has become a heated debate, and often things can escalate, though there is a key part of the phrase that shows the true manner of the UM-MSU relationship.
Everyone debates who is the “older” brother of the two, though no one has ever denied that both are brothers. The two institutions, which sit less than an hour drive from one another, are the foundation of our great state — Michigan and Michigan State represent the best of what we all are. This state is graced with two of the top schools in the country just 50 miles apart — both specialize in separate fields and are top of their class in said fields. Additionally, both are incredible athletic institutions, and competitive members of an elite conference: the Big Ten.
The “little brother” debate stems from a fact that we have all accepted: through thick and thin, we are still family. For fans and alumni of either school, Michigan/Michigan State fans and alums are your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and yes, family. In my case, my literal brother attends Michigan State, as do many other family members and close friends. That’s what makes the rivalry fun — it’s with people that you know.
Sadly, the rivalry is not fun right now — even though brothers may fight, when they’re down, you help them back up. Without one another, we are nothing, which is why this weekend should be a sacred time for both universities to come together. I want more than a moment of silence at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor; in fact, I want more than a basketball game. This should be something that everyone is a part of regardless of the game, though the game will be a massive opportunity to show unity on a massive public stage.
It’s no longer “us” and “them” when it comes to Michigan and Michigan State, it’s simply our great community, and this weekend (along with every other day), we have the chance to showcase who we all truly are. The Wolverines and Spartans will face off for the second time this season on Saturday (February 18th) at 8:00 PM (EST) at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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