#16: The Turnstile and Tunnel
|Must have been Bachelor Party Day at The Big House|
Where the hell are the female fans?
It started when I was a kid going to my first games at The Big House. The moment I went through the turnstile and saw the perforated portion of my ticket get torn off was the moment that everything changed: I was no longer going to the game, I was at the game. My excitement, which had been building all day, immediately went from 10 to 11. It was one louder.
Moving past the turnstile, I was instantly confronted with the criss-cross of people whizzing past, left to right and right to left. And just beyond them was the promised land. No, not the stadium (not yet, at least). I'm talking about the guy selling game programs.
|The frog had it easy compared to|
fans at The Big House
Once my program was secured, we'd head for the stadium and our seats. Depending on the section and our arrival time, we'd either be able to walk right up to the stadium or we'd have to wait in line to get to our seats (Memo to the folks who'd always try to race across the grassy knoll to sneak in at the front of the line after I'd been waiting for 20 minutes with my family: Go fuck yourselves).
Then we'd begin the trek down the tunnel in our section.
This all brings me to one of my favorite things about The Big House, probably even more so before the recent upgrades: how deceiving it looked from outside. Because so much of "the hole that Yost dug" was concealed below ground before one entered. So much so that many people often don't think it looks "that big" -- until they reached the end of the tunnel.
For me, making that walk and seeing...something...up ahead truly was "the light at the end of the tunnel." I couldn't see the stadium...yet. I couldn't really hear anything...yet. But it was there, just steps away.
And then I would reach the stadium staff in their yellow jackets. "Ticket, please." But I was barely paying attention at that point as my dad showed them our tickets and the Man in the Yellow Coat pointed up or down. I was in awe. There were the Michigan Wolverines warming up down below. There was Schembechler - Bo Schembechler! - arms crossed at midfield, eying his troops. The block M. The press box.
And me. Heading to my seat. About to watch a Meeechigan football game.
Hell, I get chills just typing these words in a blog post. All these years after those first games. Sitting here late at night, I'm honest-to-God smiling as I write and remember some of the specifics that began my journey as a lifelong Michigan fan (yes, Dave Brandon, even without a mascot). And you know what? It hasn't changed. The little boy still living inside the man who writes these words continues to feel the same excitement on game day. When my ticket is taken, each time I walk down that tunnel.
So because of those memories and more, the turnstile and tunnel are #16 on the MZone's list of the 25 Things We Love About Michigan Football Saturdays.
|"Then I saw a bright light at the end of the tunnel,|
and I knew everything was going to be okay."
(U-M pictures via Ann Arbor.com and Wuebbling @Flickr)