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Some fans hide their true colors

March 6, 2011
The Mining Journal

You didn't see it this weekend with Bowling Green State in Marquette.

It doesn't happen when Ohio State, Notre Dame or even too much when Michigan State pays a visit.

You would think the phenomenon would occur even when fellow Upper Peninsula rivals Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech visit the Berry Events Center, but it doesn't.

Article Photos

Matt Wellens

No matter who comes to town to play the Northern Michigan University hockey team, the home of the Wildcats is always running wild with fans decked in green and gold.

The exception is Michigan.

It's a sight I remember not so fondly from my first stint covering the NMU hockey team and it seems the trend has continued into my second term.

Whenever the Wolverines visit Marquette, it seems a select group of Wildcat fans turn in their green and gold for maize and blue.

Maybe these people are Michigan alumni. That could be understandable. You'll find me wearing red and white at the Kohl Center for my home-state Wisconsin Badgers every weekend of the hockey season, except when the Wildcats come to Madison.

I'd never turn my back on my alma mater just to root for the popular - and possibly better - team.

I know some Wildcat fans are doing the opposite, however.

I've seen students turn face. Classmates, university workers and people I know who hang an NMU diploma on their wall toss aside the cap with a Wildcat for a lid sporting that bright, blocky, yellow letter 'M'.

Some fans try to play both sides, sporting a Michigan sweatshirt and an NMU cap. Others show up on Friday wearing NMU attire, then switch to Michigan the second night either because they're trying to be fair or maybe just fair weather fans.

What bothers me even more than their apparel, is their actions. How do you cheer for NMU goaltenders Reid Ellingson and Jared Coreau eight weekends out of the year, then call them a sieve when U-M's Shawn Hunwick and Bryan Hogan arrive in net?

And why does this only happen with Michigan?

Being the largest city in the U.P., you'd expect to have some Wildcat fans who are LSSU and MTU alumni. I'd hope they turn in their green and gold for some yellow and blue, and black and gold.

Michigan State certainly has a strong presence and popularity in the U.P. While a few Spartan alumni put on the green and white, it doesn't happen at the alarming rate of maize and blue.

Maybe it's just cool to be associated with Michigan. I guess I wouldn't understand that phenomenon having come from the Dairyland.

You won't find many Wolverine sympathizers down in Sconie, where UM means Minnesota and not the school in Ann Arbor.

Maybe I don't get the Michigan phenomenon because I'm not a very good sports fan anymore having worked as a journalist since I was 19.

I only spent a semester in the student section at the BEC before taking up residence in the press box.

Even at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, headlines are racking my brain all game, not "Go Pack Go!"

As you may have figured out during the Pack's Super Bowl run, I tend to go by the numbers, be critical, act as a skeptic and use history as my guide rather than my heart.

No matter how skewed my brain is, however, or how much I do not understand the culture around Michigan athletics - and it's love for the "Michigan Man" - I know what's wrong in sports.

You don't turn your back on your hometown team and you don't leave your alma mater hanging for the opposition.

Don't hide your true colors.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His e-mail address is



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