This season marks 20 years for me being a dedicated, die-hard fan of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Attendance is down this season and I want to share why I continue to spend the money on season tickets and go every weekend. First lets just take a look at the history of what I have experienced…
Record (‘92 – ’11) – 100 Wins – 138 Losses… This surprisingly didn’t sound as bad as I thought it would. Their best finish was a tie for 4th in 2003. There have been 4 head coaches and 1 interim head coach in this period of time.
I have seen them win Paul Bunyan’s Axe from Wisconsin 4 times (2 in person) out of 20.
I have seen them win the Little Brown Jug from Michigan once (on my birthday) out of 16 match ups.
I have seen them beat Ohio State once, the only time they have beat them since I have been alive.
I was there when Iowa won the Big Ten and took down the goal posts and tried to remove them from the stadium (they are from Iowa, not sure where they thought they could take them).
I was there for the 4th quarter collapse against Michigan when they scored 31 points in that quarter alone (you remember – Navarre pass back for a touchdown, the pick six Khaliq threw, etc.).
I was there for the muffed punt snap and subsequent block for a touchdown against Wisconsin with less than a minute remaining to lose 34-38… Why Kusek, why?
I tell you these things not to impress you, but to impress upon you that I have lived through bad times… if you thought being a Cub fan was bad, have a conversation with the nearest Gopher football fan.
You are undoubtedly asking, why? Why would someone put themselves through this and continue to go… Well, I will tell you.
Tradition, Family, Hope and some of the best days of my life.
I go because every time I hear the drums of the marching bands it brings me back to when I went to every game with my parents as a little kid in the Metrodome section 213, seeing the same people game after game and year after year. Wearing the same clothes, watching and hoping that this season would be the season.
I go because no matter where I sit in the stadium when it is a big 3rd down and the stadium announcer booms, “it’s third down Gopher fans!” my parents are standing and screaming/pleading for the defense to make the stop and I am a kid again if only for a second, filled with hope and optimism (which will shortly be crushed).
I go because the experience of 50,000 + fans all at once finishing the rouser after taking a lead against Wisconsin gives me a high like I smoked the blue meth that Heisenberg cooked (Breaking Bad joke, the show is awesome).
I go because every season is a new chance for the program to turn around and I want to be there when it happens.
Mostly, I go because it wouldn’t feel right to be anywhere else on a Saturday than in the tailgate lot, drinking beer and discussing the days upcoming contest and why I think the Gophers have a chance if they just follow whatever game plan I have created in my head.
I go because it is the only place that it is socially acceptable to drink beer and eat hot dogs at 7 in the morning. Because I have once cracked a beer in a tailgate lot full of snow before the sun was up. Because if you pick up a football someone will drop what they are doing and go deep for a pass. Because it is an awesome party for 7 Saturdays in the fall (Hello, my name is Tim and I am an alcoholic).
Currently, students are not buying tickets and attendance is down. People are saying it’s because they don’t win. Other people are claiming that is a lack of tradition.
Well, it is true they haven’t won much… but, I have rushed the field twice over the past two seasons with upset victories, it was so much fun I can’t even begin to describe it. But, isn’t the ride up the best part? Isn’t the best part being there as they gradually improve and become contenders for B1G championships? Or, play competitively in all of their rivalry games?
Remember how that happened with the Twins? Then, when these teams get to the higher level the fans were screaming for, it isn’t good enough. They should have done this or that to win 1 or 2 more games.
The students will show up. The ascent will happen. The Gophers will become a winning program again.
And I will be there.
As for tradition, it’s there. Just pay attention. Ski-u-mah.
P.S. If you want to come tailgate, head on down. We’ll be the group with the tricked out hot dog cart.