OK, so #22 involves seeing six sporting events in six venues that I’ve never been to before. Sure, I’d like some of those to be Wrigley Field, Fenway or the Rose Bowl, but they all can’t be legendary, can they? So, I figured I’d start a little closer to home, and on Saturday the 12th it turns out that U of M’s Mens Gymnastics team — ranked 6th in the nation — was entertaining the #3 Illini team. Never seen a gymnastics meet before, and more importantly, I’ve never been to Cliff Keen Arena, which is home to the Men’s team at Michigan. So there you go.
Now, at a maximum capacity of 1,800 spectators, Keen barely equates a single section of the massive Big House, which is just a block or so away. This opens the door for many comparisons in the world of big-and small-time collegiate sport. For example:
With a capacity approximately 1.5% of Michigan Stadium, Keen is also decidedly more, uh, intimate:
So… yeah. Football rules in college, and it makes money for the other sports. Who am I to complain? Anyway, the gymnastics match was interesting. Michigan needs to up its game a little in terms of PA speaker quality; it was all but impossible to hear what was going on. Fortunately, due to the small venue, it was relatively easy to understand what was going on by just watching the action. Guys stick their landing, big cheer. Guys fall off, hushed harumphs.
In the end, after six rotations — which took about two hours total — Michigan was victorious by a narrow four-point margin over Illinois. I learned that the Michigan-Illini rivalry has grown to be rather intense in the last five or so years. Who knew?
Here’s a short clip showing you the scene, plus the team captain on the high bar—but you gotta view it on Posterous…
At the end of the clip you’ll see John Cady, who I dragged along to the match. John is a UM Women’s Volleyball booster– so I’ll go with him to a game next fall, and well, why stop there? We think we’re going to try and hit every Michigan home venue in the space of a calendar year, give or take a month. Can we do it? Can we make it through a Women’s Indoor Track meet? We’ll see!