All through school, especially high school, I was posed with the question: U of M or MSU? As a born and raised Michigander, I was firmly instructed to affiliate with a certain team. In a poll by Tom Jensen, we get a breakdown of the demographics of Michigan’s fans, both of professional and college teams. The numbers show a fair spread of support for the University of Michigan and Michigan State. Some of the statistics are as follows:
37% of voters in the state say they’re Michigan fans to 31% who side with Michigan State and 32% who don’t care either way. There is somewhat of an ideological divide on this question. ‘Very liberal’ Michiganders pick the Wolverines 55-26, while ‘very conservative’ ones pick the Spartans 37-30. White voters are pretty evenly split, going for Michigan 34-32, but 53-22 support from black voters pushes the Maize and Blue’s lead out to 6 points.
The final statistic really stands out. Why do more black people support the University of Michigan rather than Michigan State University? The number seems especially disproportionate as compared to the distribution of support from white people. My only hunch is that the school one supports is related to the area from which he or she grew up in. I then decided to gather some of the demographic statistics of Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing:
- The city of Detroit consists of 10.6% white people and 82.7% black people.
- In Ann Arbor, 73% of the population is white people and 7.7% is black people.
- Lansing consists of 61.2% white people and 23.7% black people.
The overwhelming black population in Detroit may be a contributing factor to the great amount of support for the University of Michigan. Because Detroit is so much closer in proximity to U of M, people from this city may feel a strong tie to how the sports teams perform, and similarly, may not connect with sports at Michigan State as much.
Currently Denard Robinson is the quarterback of Wolverines. Being in a position that receives a lot of attention, Denard becomes a role model for many black youth with sports ambitions. Having someone to look up to may be a good reason to support a school and its programs.
I wasn’t really sure what Jensen was entirely going for with his poll, but given the data these were the conclusions that I came to. Perhaps this may lead to other interpretations.
(Photo by Matt Radick under a Creative Commons license)