Saturday, September 29

Homecoming 2007

Whenever a person moves, especially when it's a largish move involving a very large truck with a even larger gas tank costing a phenomenally large amount to move one's dismally large collection of three rooms of furniture and nine rooms of absolute junk, one goes through "stuff." In my recent case, I went through the nine rooms of junk assiduously and managed to get rid of the equivalent of four of the monstrous new garbage cans currently dominating Madison streetscapes, mostly full of old papers. I also got rid of my charcoal grill and several CD racks. I have since regretted the CD racks. Oh. I also tossed out my bright red Badger sweatshirt.

You see, I was moving back here, to Badgerland. Living in Colorado, it was kind of nice to have a shockingly red Badger shirt or two, not to mention a discreet Bucky decal on the windshield of my car and a GO BADGERS license plate frame, too. On the highways, friendly blonde tourists would pass me, smiling and waving as only Midwesterners do, pointing to their own Bucky decals, shirts and hats and oh yes, also to the huge Packer flag streaming out from their Explorer's antenna. On the street, fellow alumni would invite me over for brats and beer just for wearing a sweatshirt. Being a Wisconsinite is seriously happy business.

And apparently very good business. I relinquished my own Bucky sweatshirt before returning here because it seems so unnecessary, here in Madison, to announce one's a Badger. I'm here, after all, and my Badgerdom seems self-evident. But apparently I'm missing something. Everyone here wears either the bright, screaming scarlet of the Wisconsin team or the deep, serious green of the Packers. Everyone. Even the radicals. Even the artists. There is more Badger paraphernalia in the University Book Store than books.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not just questioning Wisconsinites' choice of apparel. In Colorado, it was pretty much the same, only it was the blue and orange of the Broncos (I know: Boo, Broncos!) or the black and gold of the Buffaloes. Less of the black and gold lately, since the whole team's pretty much still under a black umbrella of suspicion from all the claims of sexual assault, abuse and discrimination. Maybe the red of the Badgers is just more salient. Or maybe it's actually, in fact, more prevalent.

Why is it we feel such an urge to affiliate ourselves with a team on which we will never, ever play? Wouldn't it be just a little more interesting if we wore sweatshirts saying something of interest, like "Atheist" or "Swimmer" or, my personal favorite, "Single?" I mean, what does one gain by advertising, here in Badgerland, that one's a Badger? Does one really feel more pride? Do we really need more pride? And even if we do need more pride, is it pride in a football team we really need? How about pride in clean water or in our willingness to shelter and feed those who need it? How about pride in the fact that Madison's public schools are crossing the majority minority line with test scores staying high? Is there a sweatshirt proclaiming pride in our school district?

Or perhaps it's all more fundamental than any of this. Maybe we just have no fashion sense or hate ironing or don't want to figure out what shirt really complements the pants we're wearing. A Badger goes so well with everything, such a highly attractive and friendly animal. I lied, you know. I tossed my red sweatshirt but then retrieved it. I was, after all, going home. On, Wisconsin!