How Michigan Football’s Debacle Taught Me The Meaning Of Life

August 9, 2019

Up two, ten seconds left, with the ball, we lost.


0.2% chance, the optimistic math said. Michigan was back. Title chances. Crushed in 10 seconds.

You’re at the altar, staring into your lover’s eyes.

“I do — .” She coughs. You smile.

“I do not want to marry you. I’ve been fucking your brother. Goodbye.”

My friend sat down for the first time. Hands on temples. Silence. Until.

The Michigan State bro had weathered four hours of brash heckling. He turned around and flashed his green sweatshirt.

“WOOOO! FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKERS!” He uppercutted double-middle-fingers. And got the fuck out.


“Let’s go, man. I can’t be here.” My friend led the way, and we walked a half-hour to meet the rest.

A few what the fucks. A few awkward, chuckling sighs.

Green shirts skipped and pierced the silence of 111,740 stunned blues.


Most bros couldn’t resist.

“FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FAGGOTS! AT LEAST I HAVE A JOB!” College bros really like saying “faggot.”

At least we weren’t them. Either group.

There’s no class on class.

My friends and I watched Michigan lose a basketball national title in Atlanta. I wrote about wanting to punch that 8-year old smiling “a little too mirthfully” in the Louisville jersey.

I was joking. Mostly.

Sports bring out the worst in people.

What’s the point of watching a bunch of idiots chase leather and pummel brains?

Go read a textbook and contribute to society!

Sports are meaningless. I hope President Trump abolishes them.

Our four years at Michigan sucked.

Freshman year: Football starts 4–0, finishes 1–7. Shitty basketball season ends on a 37-foot buzzer beater. I slam my laptop, grunt and flee Econ class.

Sophomore year: Football sucks. Basketball ends with missed buzzer-beater.

Junior year: Football was good. I forgot. Good memories are overshadowed. I’m studying abroad during basketball. I get back from an EDM festival. I’m drunk. I call Mom. “You lost to Ohio in the first round.” I throw my cheap burner phone at the hotel wall.

Senior year: Football sucks. We make the basketball national championship. I want to punch that 8-year old. I’m historically hungover and nauseous on my plane back. I’m scaring people. When we land, I’m given a wheelchair. Seriously.

Post-Grad: Football sucks. Basketball is looking at another Final Four. I’m at the NYC Michigan bar, with my Michigan bros. A bad 3-point shooter takes a bad shot. Buzzer-beater. We lose. I don’t say goodbye to my friends. I walk the mile home, head down, pouring rain, Michigan jersey, no jacket.

Life is so hard for a white college graduate.

After the loss, eight of my best friends sat down at Pizza House — notorious in Ann Arbor for its Cheesy Bread.

One was inconsolable. One didn’t give a shit. But we all understood each other.

“It could be a lot worse,” one said. “At least we’re all here.”

The best moments in life: Marriage, birth, I guess? A shared, obvious, meaningful, intense feeling.

But what do young, spoiled people have?

Tests, parties, jobs, trips, Tinder hookups?

How can my brain simulate the intense experiences that make us bond? Bro, would you believe my meeting today wasn’t outrageous fun? My life is so hard!

I’m spoiled.

When do we get off our phones? When are we fully present, thinking and feeling the same things, with the same intensity, reacting in unison?

Sports with friends.

Winning doesn’t matter. Wanting to win matters. Even when we’re miles away, group-texting in united happiness or desire to punch 8-year olds.

“I’ll never be able to watch a game the same way.” My friend is dramatic.

It’s just a game! Work hard! Be successful!

In the long run, shit will hit the fan. The Big House stank.

But what about the six hours after the game? Eight of my closest friends, reunited in our college home — eating, drinking, sighing, and laughing at our shared, meaningfully meaningless misfortune?

Maybe the bread was too cheesy. Back to work. I wasn’t paid to write this!

Nah. That cheesy shit don’t stank.

Sports don’t matter. Sports with friends are all that matters.

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