I have been to many, many football games in Spartan Stadium. I have sat in the blazing sun, the pouring rain and the freezing snow. I also count many “beautiful days for football” in my past. I’ve seen the field from just about every section, including the press box. I went as a student, an alumna and as an employee. I bundled up my daughter at a young age and taught her the fight song. I have cheered in victory and sat stunned in defeat.
No matter what happened on the field, I never left the stadium without holding my head high, proud to be a Spartan. Because, while winning a game is always fun, being a Spartan is about so much more than that. Long after the final score disappears from the scoreboard, the Spartan helmet remains to remind us that we are bigger than any game.
This weekend, the Spartans return to the field for their first match since the pandemic hit. Like everything else in 2020, it will be unlike any game they’ve ever played. The stadium won’t be filled with fans, there won’t be any tailgating and safety protocols will be followed to keep everyone safe. And maybe it really is about more than a game.
Perhaps this Saturday, for a few hours, while we watch safely from our homes, life will feel a little more normal. Amidst all the worry we’re all feeling, maybe we’ll have a chance to cheer a bit and smile. And let’s be grateful to our student athletes for being careful, working hard and giving us something to cheer for.
In 1966, the Spartans won a national championship. Certainly, that was a big deal. But it wasn’t all about the game. The role that team played in the integration of college football is a bigger legacy than even their title. Check out the awesome video, narrated by NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, in the feature, Game changers, to revisit this important part of our history.
No matter the score this Saturday, or next Saturday when we face our rivals in Ann Arbor, we can always be proud of who we are and the work we do on and off the field.
Recently, a study showed that research universities like MSU are key to economic recovery. And the research never stops. We’re studying new beetle species, developing software to help children learn, researching the market for fake documents and have experts in election polling and vaccines.
And, being a Spartan is also about being part of a larger community that we strive to make better. We should not just be proud of ourselves but make others proud of us. President Stanley addressed that notion in a letter to the community this week urging Spartans to do our civic duty by voting and also show civility and grace when we disagree.
So, if you tune in to the game this weekend, of course express your pride. But as you sing, “Spartan teams are never beaten, all through the game they fight…” remember that we are fighting for so much more than a football game and we can’t let ourselves be beaten. Especially now, when we are in the fight of our lives as we face this pandemic.
Let’s use that spirit to continue the fight to make this world a better place. Gear up, get tough and never give up. Game on. #SpartansWill