MSU–UM game returns to campus


This is really going to be an exciting weekend in East Lansing, with the MSU-Michigan game returning to campus.

And like so many things that happen here, it’s an opportunity for us.

One of the fun things that university presidents get to do is go over and talk to the football team at the beginning of the year. I recently made my trek over to do that, and besides letting the team and the coaches know how proud we all are of their successes, we also talked about how it’s not just about winning games, it’s about building a program that they would be proud to talk about with children and grandchildren. And that’s something Coach Smith and I have talked about before.

If you look at the history of Michigan State football over a period of time, we’ve had some wonderful wins, and we’ve had some significant disappointments. But independent of the way the score comes out on any given Saturday, what makes a difference over time and what brings distinction to MSU and to everyone associated with the program is the reputation we’re building. It’s the sustainability of our success, and perhaps even more important, the sustainability of the character and quality of the student athletes, on and off the field, that really makes a difference. Because that really is how an intercollegiate athletic program must connect in an academic institution.

Like any team—whether it’s team football, or “Team MSU” —there are times when we wish we could do better and times when we know we really need to rise to the occasion.

There will be a lot of eyes focused on Michigan State and East Lansing this weekend. And independent of what happens on the scoreboard, this is a great opportunity for all of us: It’s an opportunity for the institution to shine in the way that we interact with people who come to campus, how we treat them as our guests and make them feel welcome, regardless of the colors they wear and the allegiances they bring. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness and professionalism of how we manage our operations and the mechanics of hosting this kind of event. And most of all, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate that, whether you’re a resident, a visitor, a student, faculty member or staff, a visiting fan, or one of the student athletes, we all know how to conduct ourselves in ways that will bring credit to the university and to our entire community.

So regardless of the final score on Saturday, what I’m hoping for is a victory for Michigan State and East Lansing in terms of the folks who’ll be looking in on us this weekend and seeing this university and this community in a positive way. I’m asking everyone in the MSU community to work together in order to achieve a victory for Team MSU, in the same way that the football team has been working together this year to achieve their goal to be champions.

A victory for Team MSU will require behavior and decorum that is appropriate for an academic institution. It will require each of us to be looking out for one another. And it will require a sense of character and spirit, no matter the outcome of the game. Sometimes winning can be harder than losing. And since we intend to win, we hope we’ll be put to the test.

So I thank all of you in advance, and I hope we’re able to use this opportunity to enhance the positive image we’ve been working to build for “Team MSU,” not only in this community, but across the nation and around the world.


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