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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Quiet! There's a football game going on!

Regular MZone reader WB sent me the following email (hyperlink added) that had me shaking my head in disbelief...


I was at a forum hosted by President Coleman's Ethics in Public Life Initiative entitled "Sports Fans: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly." Among the forum guests were Max Pollock of the football team, Dr. Michael Stevenson, the Executive Associate Athletic Director, Daniel Bromwich from the Daily, and Bitsy Ritt, the Associate Athletic Director. I wouldn't point this out to you except that Dr. Stevenson said some things that really bothered me.

Dr. Stevenson said that noise level in stadiums should be kept low enough to make sure that the opposing team does not need to use hand signals on offense. He pointed out a Michigan-Ohio State game in which he was aghast that Ohio State incurred one false start after another on a drive because of fan noise. He thought this was horrible fan behavior. He even liked how schools can be fined if the noise level gets too high in some conferences. He said that Yost was a great place because of the "enthusiasm", but he didn't like the noise at Michigan Stadium because as he explained to me, noise doesn't effect the out come of the game in hockey like it can football. He thinks that stadiums should make sure that "the best team wins". I don't have him completely quoted, but his comments were a perfect explanation of how the administration continues to encourage quiet behavior in the Big House. He wants to end the "You Suck" cheer because it might hurt the opposing team's feelings, and that any specific insults at players should be strictly prohibited.

My god. I don't have a transcript or anything, but it might be something you could look into. The event was sparsely attended, but I know a few people who were there, and I am sure the Daily will have something on it...

- WB

Hey, maybe they can pass out tea and crumpets, too. And make it a 15 yard penalty if the coach yells at a player and damages his self-esteem. Better yet, since the grass is already there on the field, get rid of the pads, hand out clubs and call it golf!

The worst thing about this is the person saying this stuff is the associated with the athletic department! WTF!?! How old is this guy, 106? "You kids get off my lawn! And keep the noise down or I'm callin' the cops!"

In confirming the account above with someone else who was at the meeting, I was told Mr. Stevenson qualified his "Let's all be quiet" comments by saying, "I'm sure I'll be the only one who thinks this but..." Uh, only person in the general population at large who thinks that? I'll go no on that one. But only person WHO WORKS IN THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT OF A MAJOR UNIVERSITY WITH A TOP SPORTS PROGRAM WHO THINKS THAT? Yeah, yeah, I'm guessing you are the only one. And that's ridiculous! No wonder the university has the stupid "key play" sign up on the scoreboard.

How on earth did this person end up working in intercollegiate athletics when it sounds like he might better enjoy the atmosphere at the undergraduate library? And can you even imagine this guy working at an SEC school? Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA!

Look, anybody who reads this site regularly knows I abhor aggressive or obscene treatment of opposing fans. There is no place in the great game of college football for that. But cheering one's damn head off and giving your team a "home field advantage" is as much a part of the game as first downs and touchdowns. If not, why play the games in front of a crowd at all? Why don't we all just stay home and watch it on the BTN instead?

I have to say, this is an instance in which we deserve to be mocked by our rivals (but quietly, lest somebody wake the baby). Have at it ,OSU. Get a good laugh, MSU. Because this is teed up and punchline ready.

P.S. In the history of football in Ann Arbor, what drive is he talking about in which Ohio State incurred one false start after another due to Michigan fan noise? Seriously. I mean, I've seen it happen like....uh...once. Also, what conference fines schools for fan noise? Is there some ultra quiet league I'm not familiar with? WB had to have misheard that because it sounds like something my grandmother would say she heard from one of her friends at Bingo.

UPDATE: The Michigan Daily's blog confirms and weighs in on the subject.


Dezzi said...

Who is up for sending off emails/letters to the department to have this guy canned? I'm sorry, but a part of sports is dealing with the crowd noise! Not sure how he can say that noise doesn't affect a hockey outcome? Being on a club hockey team here... I tend to yell out to my teammates when someone is open or when passing/shooting the puck...

We need some young people who aren't so removed from the passion that is college sports running this program. I noticed that in the first half of the UM v. Minny game... the crowd on TV was quiet. Maybe this guy got to them? Only in the second half... when Minny was still in the game... a Minny team that has lost to not one, but TWO 1-AA teams this year... did the volume noticeably increase!

Please Yost, forward this to Florida, LSU fans... the entire SEC for that matter... Oregon and Washington fans... Make this fool receive not only disappointing mail from Michigan Alumni, but mocking letters from opposing fans.

(whispering) It's great... to be... a Michigan Wolverine (/whispering)

I'm going to put my keys away because I believe that my car is getting upset with the amount of noise that my apartment and mailbox key make together...

j said...

Yost, I am sorry for pointing out some obvious flaws in your story BUT, Dr.Michael Stevenson is NOT the Executive Associate Athletic Director. He is the current Director of the Ministry of Silly Walks after serving previously as the Associate Director of Nonsensical Epitaphs. I hope this clarifies where his thoughts and concerns are coming from.

Katie said...

Just to clarify , prior to the start of the game there is an "ad" that runs on the scoreboard that says MAKE NOISE, so they certainly are not supporting this idea at the games. Also the cheerleaders have signs that say "make noise". I do have to say though, I have this row of people in front of me that are the tea and crumpets crowd and they turn and look at me every time I yell (which is often, infact they may look back more than they look forward) I do believe that they are intentionally doing it, as if to say, "shut the F up" I totally ignore them and scream my bloody head off each game. I have said it before, as has Yost and others, the main problem are the old time season tickets holders, with their big diamonds and blue hair who probably will cut out the story that is written about this seminar and give me a copy at the next game. There is no changing this, all we can do it educate those who can be taught what it means to sit in the Big House and cheer the Maize and Blue. In time it can change as each of these old time season tickets holders kick the bucket.

srudoff said...

actually i think this guy is working for the perfect school to match his viewpoint. he probably did a ton of research before signing on and went with the quietest home crowd he could find. i think the fans watching the trinity-millsaps game (all 100 of them) were louder than the Game I attended in Ann Arbor in '99.

srudoff said...


forgot this ---> : )

TitleIX said...

Remember the earlier post about HYPERBOLE???
Simmer and get the whole story.

I know Mike Stevenson. He is a stand-up guy and actually one of the sane ones in the AD.

get a 360 degree view, then see if you still want his head.

Dex said...

some day i hope to lead a militia of booze soaked fans into the stadium carrying makeshit weapons. we will not leave until disemboweling these quiet fans and placing their heads on pikes at every gate. then we will hurl beer bottles at opposing buses, light the night with burning barrel grills before games, and unleash a cadre of starved wolverines on leashes onto the field.

Aram said...

Stevenson was the guy who spearheaded the Athletic Department's efforts to lame-ify the Yost student section a few years back with the "elimination" of the CYA cheer. Came off as a total blowhard in the student forums they held.

The Athletic Department has also threatened the Marching Band with a request to stop playing Temptation after third down stops because the students' "You Suck" cheer is supposedly too unsportsmanlike and rude.

It's ridiculous how far the athletic department has gone to make Yost and other Michigan sports venues a less intimidating place to play.

Dave said...


Why would you want to make us like Columbus?

Out of Conference said...

I really hope this is a hoax story. If not, we're laughing from Dixie.

whetstonebuck said...

"Why would you want to make us like Columbus?"

Something to do with passion. For all the external animosity the world knows you "really want to be like Mike."

beast in 'bama said...

"some day i hope to lead a militia of booze soaked fans into the stadium carrying makeshit weapons."

That might be the funniest typo in the history of the MZone, Dex. If those weapons were pointed at me, I might just...

Dezzi said...

Title IX

I'd really like the 360 degree story... all I can find on the web is how he's the same person that outlawed the vulgarity in the "See Ya" cheer in hockey.... while I might agree that cheer is over the top... that just reinforces my thoughts.

If you have anything that can give me more than the 180 degrees that I am seeing.... I'd greatly appreciate it.

Dex said...


possibly because i enjoy having fun at football games.

and how does makeshit not garner a squiggly red line from my browser. damn technology.

Christopher said...

The SEC has banned certain noisemakers - specifically cowbells - and can fine or penalize the home team. Maybe that's what he was referring to, but he sounds pretty uninformed, so who knows.

CrimeNotes said...

He also tried to censor or shut down the Every Three Weekly a few years ago.


After the Every Three Weekly printed an issue that included three stories about student athletes — including one, headlined “Phelps To Major In Pussy,” that skewered University student and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps — Executive Associate Athletic Director Michael Stevenson said he felt obligated to approach the newspaper and the UAC executive board, which controls the newspaper’s funding.

“I think that that kind of satire is unbecoming to any student at the University,” Stevenson said. “It adds nothing to our campus community to have that kind of discussion.”

i rub howard's rock said...

dan devine contacted the acc refs before the clemson/notre dame game thirty years ago. said he wanted a penalty called if his players couldn't hear montana call the plays because he heard that clemson had a "noise problem". dan ended up getting an unsportsmanlike conduct call for extending his middle finger in gesture to our fans who did not shut up for 4 quarters.

Yost said...


I don't want anybody's head. But you have to admit that such a position regarding crowd noise is an odd one coming from someone in the athletic department.

Matt said...

Michigan should fire his ass to send a message that this sort of silence will not be tolerated.

Seriously, he's a feel-good pussy. I bet he was watching horse-racing on Saturday and not the game. Oh wait, horse-racing is too masculine for this clown. It was probably the equestrian obstacle course or whatever you call it.

TitleIX said...

My point is that the initial post was pure hyperbole based on hearsay and a de-contextualized description of events. And dezzi, you went right off to the races with the call for getting this guy canned? Are you kidding?

Apparently the football reporter from The Daily was there so maybe he can enlighten us? maybe I'm completely wrong.

And no, I'm not signing ANY contract regarding the veracity of leprechans....

Many on this blog ridicule and complain about the F*ck Michigan shirts that abound and how we are treated so poorly by other 'fans', but then you want to burn some administrator at the blog-stake for discussing appropriate fan behavior AT AN ETHICS FORUM?

Maybe I get today's wet blanket award.
Sorry Yost.

Cedrick said...

HAHA! - from BTO (in East Lansing, not at work in Ann Arbor).

Of course, my glee will only last until next weekend.

Yost said...


How do you equate the ridiculousness of keeping the crowd quiet with vulgar fan behavior? Seriously, you know as well as I do that the post wasn't advocating that. You know that b/c you know I abhor such behavior. Being loud doesn't mean one has to shout obscenities.

Oh, and because I was so stunned about a member of Michigan's athletic department allegely advocating such a strange POV, I did contact the Daily reporter for confirmation. Only then did I put up the post.

Yost said...

PS And no wet blanket award, T9. Your opinion, even in disagreement, is always welcomed and valued here.

Sundawg said...

Limit crowd noise, did I read that correctly? So when you defense is on the field and the players are waving their arms in the air, what they really want you to do is sit in your seat with your knees together, hands in your lap and FOCUS on your opponents. FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! Does this guy wear bow ties?

Other than a good "Bullshit" when the officials screw up a call, there's really no place at the games for the vulgarity.

The SEC will withhold laughter until this policy is actually implemented (snicker).

TitleIX said...

Thanks Yost for your support, even in disagreement. I love what you and Benny do here and would miss the opportunity FOR SURE!

My opinion about crowd noise did a 180 after my brief, but fun experience on the sidelines for the ND game.
The bowl DOES angle up and out and even at the kickoff I didn't have to yell to talk to the guy next to me.....it was totally weird.

I'm all for yelling, stomping, filling empty cider jugs with coins, cowbells, and the band. I'm just not so sure how much effect it has given the current configuration of the stadium. Seriously.

Look---no one allows airhorns at certain sporting events or even whistles for that matter because of the negative effect they can have on the competition or play of the game itself. Perhaps what Stevenson meant was that the noise shouldn't hurt the game in that same way? Perhaps there is a balance between supportive cheering and sonic interference????

Fan behavior is an interesting and curious thing. But, perhaps the moral of the ethics story hear is that sports should stay passionate and not cerebrational? (not a typo nor an ethnic slur...)

Devil said...

"Why don't we all just stay home and watch it on the BTN instead?"

Ummmmm . . . because nobody actually GETS the Big Ten Network?

Take care,

Bryan said...

"...it sounds like he might better enjoy the atmosphere at the undergraduate library?"

No way. The Ugli is way too loud for this guy. He sounds like he'd prefer the law library.

Simon said...


Mentioned on the Daily's Sports Blog

surrounded in columbus said...

You are what is wrong w/ michigan football. Yost posts a perfectly good story based upon rumor and innuendo, fires up the faithful for a good old fashioned lynching, and what do you do? Advise calm, reason, and rationality. Dammit woman! What has any of that got to do w/ football or hangings?

If you can’t demand the firing of an assistant AD over an email and half backed rumor, what’s the sense of reading blogs or being a fan? We don’t come to the internet for the truth. We come for the entertainment. And a good witch hunt is far more entertaining than sitting around investigating things. What’s next? Forming a committee to look into the matter?

And here in lies the problem w/ the football team- too damned many rational people like you in the stands, cheering, making noise like crazy, watching other people sit on their hands. What good does watching and complaining do? None. It’s not the people who don’t cheer who are the problem. It’s the people who do cheer but don’t do anything to make the other people cheer that are the problem. Because the “sit down” crowd feels safe and secure, they stay staid and polite. The whole stadium stays proper. Hell, even our students yelling “you suck” is orchestrated and structured.

Do you think obnoxious tosu fans sit around debating the merits of making noise? Hell no. they get liquored up, go to the game, and if they see someone not making enough noise, they toss an empty beer bottle at ‘em. Why waste time commenting on key jingling when you can just knock the snot of the first person you see doing it? The rest of the crowd can learn by example.

It’s time for those of us who do cheer to take responsibility and do something (you know, a meaningless and futile gesture would be a good start). What Michigan football needs is far less rational and reflective thought and more impulsive, screw ball knee jerk violence and bad behavior.

And what better way to get the ball rolling than started than going after this poor schlock of an assistant AD? Screw the facts, let’s fire up: www. Fire____Now.com, and go after him. It’ll be good practice, entertain everyone, and if turns out we’re wrong, we can always give him a good reference for his next job.

w/ tongue planted firmly in cheek,…

CJGrape said...

I remember back in the 80s when Bo used to "play the crowd" in opposing stadiums perfectly--getting penalty after penalty assessed on the other team because Michigan "couldn't hear the signals."

Does anyone know if that rule is still in effect? I don't see it used any more. That could also have an impact on this discussion.

MGoBlue93 said...

Jeez... could you imagine the noise in the big house of we could get it to sound like Yost???

Seems to me he lost credibility in his wishy washy attempt to say noise + hockey = okay; noise + football = bad.

Sounds like something which came out of James A. Boyle at College Parents of America.

MJ4Ducks said...

Jeez, I wish it was a little quieter at Autzen this last week...visit http://blog.oregonlive.com/johncanzano/2007/10/colleen_bellotti_is_spitting_a.html

Jessica said...

They threatened to make the band stop playing Temptation? I'm off to join the lynch mob - IF I can stick his head on a pole and parade it down State Street.

In no way do I advocate Michigan fans acting vulgar at football games. In my view, that's not only disrespectful to the other team, it's disrespectful to Michigan - if you're there, in Michigan colors, you're representing the university. But not wanting people to make noise in the stands? Did this guy stop to think about what that'd do to the morale of OUR team?

TitleIX said...

love ya SiC!

Mikoyan said...

A few years ago (okay more than a few years ago), I was a student at Eastern Michigan. We used to get a crowd to go to opposing stadiums. I went to one of the games at Western. Western was about to score so we started to get loud. We got loud enough to force them to false start twice. There was nothing the refs could do about it, since we weren't the home crowd.

I'm with the rest of the folks on this board. I don't have a problem with loud crowd noise. Cheering for your team should be a part of the game. Heck, even taunting the opposing team should be a part of the game. I draw the line when that behavior gets towards the lewd or vulgar.

Honestly, this guy sounds like one of the self-esteem folks that should not be in education. He sounds like one of the idiots that thinks that papers shouldn't be graded in red ink because it might hurt someone's self esteem. We need less of these folks.

MGoBlue93 said...

cjgrape... yes, there used to be a crowd noise rule. I distinctly remembering Bo having the QB go to the ref a few times and the ref would come over the PA and announce that if the crowd didn't quiet down it would cost the home team a penalty.

Those days are long gone.

I also remember in the 80s, wasn't a student yet though, that Bo used to actually get pissed at the student section for being too rowdy.

By the time I got my first set of student tix, the damn close your mouth and wave your keys thing was in effect.

Jafam said...

I think it is highly likely that the ideas apparently presented by Stevenson will be accepted as polite behavior before too long. After that, they could very well be made somewhat obligatory. It's how universities handle the possibility of something that could give offense. Here, there isn't even a "free speech" defense. If you don't like it, stick up for freedom of expression elsewhere.