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April 17, 2007 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-17

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14 - Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Buffalo
losing
hope
When it comes to losing, no
sports city boasts more
experience than Buffalo,
N.Y.
The Bills
squandering a
potential play-E
off victory when E
the Tennessee
Titans executed
their Home-
Run Throwup
- er, Home-Run STEPHANIE
Throwback - in WRIGHT
their 2000 Wild
Card matchup. Wright on
The Sabres Wrg on
getting robbed arget
whenBrettfHull's disputedovertime
goal was upheld in the 1999 Stanley
Cup finals.
And of course, Scott Norwood's
47-yard field-goal attempt sailing
wide right in the final seconds of
Super Bowl XXV.
It's as heartbreaking of a track
record as there is in sports.
But there's more to Buffalo sports
fandom than our most infamous
defeats. As a proud resident of the
Buffalo-Niagara region, I decided
to dedicate my final column to the
unique attachment Buffalo sports
fans like me have to our favorite
teams.
NBC's Tim Russert, himself a
Buffalo native, summed up this rela-
tionship perfectly in a Sports Illus-
trated article on Sabres co-captain
Chris Drury last week: "The Sabres
and the Bills are the city. They give
it life."
He isn't exaggerating.
Buffalo fans live and die with
their teams in a way few outsiders
can understand. Once a booming
industrial center, Buffalo's popula-
tion and economy have been sliding
for decades. In 1950, Buffalo was the
nation's 15th-largest city; by 2000, it
had fallen to 57th. Along with snow
and chicken wings, the Bills and
Sabres provide my declining city
with a national identity.
I think they give us asense of per-
sonal identity, too.
On Feb. 2, 1994, Bills fans (i.e.,
the entire population of western

POT S

a

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Singer-time returns

Chris Drury and the Sabres winning the Stanley Cup could be just what Buffalo needs.

New York) were mourning the
team's fourth-straight Super Bowl
loss. In other words, the sun wasn't
shining, children weren't playing
and offices were full of employees
standing dejectedly around water-
coolers analyzing what went wrong.
Despite pledges to "strive for five
in '95" (yes, we were excited about
the possibility of a fifth Super Bowl
appearance), Buffalonians were
depressed.
To help us deal with the pain, The
Buffalo News published a serious
article in which local psychologists
gave Bills fans advice about how to
deal with the devastating defeat.
One of the experts quoted is
Charles Behling, teaches at Michi-
gan and happens to be one of my
favorite professors ever. Then a psy-
chology professor at the University
at Buffalo, Behling told Bills fans to
"talk and ask themselves why they
identify so strongly with the team."
Even though his words weren't
mean-spirited, readers were
incensed. Behling once told me peo-
ple flooded his office with letters
and phone calls, some of which bor-
dered on threats. As a relative new-
comer to the city, he simply didn't
understand what we were going
through.
If that doesn't prove how much
Buffalo sports fans care about their
teams, I don't know what could.
For years I've argued that Buffalo
has the longest-suffering fans in
sports. The Bills won back-to-back
AFL championships in 1964-65,
but the city hasn't seen a title since
(not counting the Triple-A Buffalo
Bisons' three championships from
1998-2004, among other minor
sports titles).
I've never witnessed either of my
favorite professional sports teams
win a championship. For a passion-
atesports fanfromasports-obsessed
city, that's a lot of suffering.
Three weeks ago, ESPN.com's
Page 2 supported my stance by

awarding the Bills first place in
their Pain & Suffering rating. The
Bills took the top prize thanks to
Wide Right and the Music City Mir-
acle, not to mention their back-to-
back-to-back-to-back Super Bowl
defeats.
As crazy as it sounds, reading
that article made me so proud to be
a Buffalo sports fan.
Even though we've lived through
heartbreaking finishes, controver-
sial calls and just plain embarrass-
ing seasons, we've never given up
hope - and we never will.
That's why the Bills consistently
rank among the NFL's top teams in
terms of per capita TV ratings.
That's why the Sabres place near
the top of the NHL in merchandise
sales despite hailing from a small-
market city.
That's why signs at the Buffalo-
Niagara International Airport have
read "Go Sabres!" all season long.
And that's why thousands of Bills
fans - my father and I among them
- remained in Ralph Wilson Stadi-
um during a near-blizzard in 2002
to watch the Bills destroy the hated
Miami Dolphins, whom we taunted
with a chorus of "Let It Snow."
We still believe that someday the
Bills and the Sabres will each bring
home a championship.
Even if the Sabres, who have
given us our best shot at a title in
almost a decade, fail to capture the
Stanley Cup this season, Buffalo-
nians will never stop cheering for
their beloved teams.
But it would be amazing to see
Buffalo's losing streak finally come
to an end.
- Wright would like to thank
everyone who made her three-plus
years at the Daily so memorable,
especially Jose, Amber, Katie, Matt,
Mike and the entire sports staff. If you
want to commiserate with her about
being a long-suffering sports fan, she
can be reached at smwr@umich.edu.

Almost two years ago, fellow
Daily Sports Editor Megan
Kolodgy edited one of my
first columns, a
piece about the
NHL's return
from lockout.
She told men
she liked it, but
suggested I cut
out some of the
"Singer-time" MATT
- the extrane-
ous personal SINGER
anecdotes , .
littering the Spitting Fire
draft.
It was good advice. During my
tenure as a columnist, I've tried
my best to express strong opinions
without burdening readers with
unnecessary autobiographical
information.
But for my last-ever column, I
can't pass up the opportunity to
indulge in alittle more Singer-time.
Sorry, Meg.
I came here four years ago from
New York, lookingto create a niche
at this enormous University.
Within weeks, Daily Sports
became just that.
It suited me perfectly. It allowed
me to showcase my writing, my
incisiveness and my love for a good
argument. It allowed me to expand
my horizons, take risks and meet
an incredible array of people.
But perhaps most important,
it allowed me to play a small but
timeless role in the incredible uni-
verse of Michigan athletics. To my
dismay, Lloyd Carr was not and is
not looking for a 130-pound wide
receiver - even one who racked up
an impressive 88 yards receiving
and 10 special-teams tackles in an
illustrious career as a Jericho High
SchoolJayhawk. The Dailyallowed
me into the world of Michigan
sports, if only as an observer. And
for that, this lifelong sports nut is
forever grateful.
And what a ride it's been:
I learned to love, and hate, I-94.
I jumped out of the car and into
the middle of a cornfield in Le Roy,
Illinois.
I almost died - twice - thanks
to my beatmates' poor driving on
a hellish road trip back from Min-

neapolis. (Don't worry, Mom, I
insisted on driving for the rest of
the season.)
I drank. A lot.
I sat in the Michigan section at
this year's Michigan-Ohio State
game, high-fiving third-string
quarterback Jeff Kastl's dad and
the girlfriends of Michigan line-
men Jake Long and Adam Kraus
after every big play. So much for
unbiased journalism.
I shared a defeated and emo-
tional embrace outside the Horse-
shoe with fellow reporter Kevin
Wright after Michigan lost that
game. Again, so much for unbiased
journalism.
I was on TV, twice. Once stand-
ing behind Chad Henne in the
Notre Dame tunnel, once standing
next to Barry Alvarez on the Mich-
igan Stadium sideline.
After Michigan beat Notre
Dame last season, I ran across
Notre Dame Stadium's turf, osten-
sibly to take notes on the players'
celebration, but really because I
was excited.
I drove five hours in a row in the
middle of the night after coveringa
women's basketball loss at North-
western. To her credit, beatmate
Stephanie Wright kept the conver-
sation going and didn't succumb to
sleep until we hit Jackson.
I got to know Bob "The Animal"
Hunt and Matt "Groni" Venegoni.
Enough said.
I gave fellow reporter Scott Bell
an under-press-row low five as
Michigan locked up its first basket-
ball win against Michigan State in
three years.
I danced to "Apache" in the first
row of The Fish during the first-
ever night game there.
I spent hurdreds of hours in an
asbestos-infested 420 Maynard St.
building.
I happily zoomed down a ramp
in the Daily offices dozens of times
before "The Man" tragically took
the Razor scooter away.
I drank thousands of 50-cent
cherry cokes.
I talked with Michigan athletes
of all stripes - future NFL stars
and bench players lucky to have
a scholarship. I liked almost all of
them.

I survived a semester of cover-
ing football while attending grad
school.
I sent nearly every word I wrote
to a dozen or so family and friends,
who gladly read everything, be it
my men's tennis midweeks or col-
umns that ended up on usatoday.
cm. Few people are blessed with
that type of support.
I met a girl who's worth holding
onto long after our stories in the
bound volumes are tattered and
yellow.
I spit fire.
I received dozens of angry e-
mails from Ohio State fans after
burying their school in a column.
I received dozens more from
Florida fans after I said they didn't
deserve to be in the national cham-
pionship (Oopst).
I stopped indenting, shortened
my sentences and stopped putting
commas before the last "and" in a
series of clauses.
I stood on the Beaver Stadium
field and watched as Chad Henne's
beaming high school coach
embraced his former pupil.
I drank Margaritas on Santa
Monica Pier.
I took a walk around an empty
and sun-splattered Rose Bowl an
hour before fanswere let in. I'mnot
sure I'll ever have a more spiritual
experience.
I laughed. I laughed and laughed
and laughed at things I cannot and
will not mention in this paper.
I've done all that and so much
more; my memories could easily fill
this entire sports section.
But it's time to move on, in one
sense. I've moved up from women's
track and field to football, from
peon "For the Daily" writer into
a senior sports editor. I've accom-
plished everything I wanted to
at this place; I've written amaz-
ing stories, been amazing places,
encountered amazing people and
enjoyed amazing access to the best
Michigan football season since
1997.
Thatsaid, it's stillhard to believe
it's over. This place will always be a
part of me.
- Singer can be reached
at mattsing@umich.edu.

Dusty road to Daily

EARN MONEY AND PREPARE FOR YOUR FUTURE.

t was just a job.. .
My first Sunday afternoon
on campus freshman year,
most students
were nursing r
their Welcome
Week hang- '
overs, while I I
foundmyselfin
an office filling'
out tax forms. ,
I was about
to assume a AMBER
most-cov- COLVIN
eted position
and become A Touch of
that girl who Dutch
swipes cards
at the CCRB entrance.
I got hooked up with other
oh-so-glamorous duties, too
- manning the equipment room,
changing towels, cleaning mats

and otherthingsworthy of a pay-
check.
My favorite times from the
hours spent in those sweaty halls
were when all my work was done
for the day, and I could sneak away
to an empty racquetball court
with a copy of that day's Daily. I'd
sit on the ground, a dust mop next
to me, and read the SportsMonday
section cover to cover, learning
all about Braylon Edwards and
how fans should do "The Claw"
on fourth down instead of "The
Chop."
Those Monday afternoons
I spent among dust bunnies,
hunched over anewspaperbrought
me to something that was going to
be so much more than just a job.
It was goingto become my life.
Sophomore year I finallygotthe
guts to walk into the Student Pub-

Do you like Sudoku puzzles?
Bored during summer classes?
Need something to read during the lazy days of
summer?

lications Building and went home
giddy, bragging to my roommates
that I knew what would be on the
front page the next day.
That novelty wore offfast,when
sources didn't call back, editors
were tough and the real hard work
set in. Pre-med students have
their so-called "weeding" classes,
but the entire Daily experience is
a weeding process. Make it to the
end, and you probably deserve a
badge of honor. Instead, you get a
goodbye column.
So that's what I'm here to do:
sayfarewell, lookbackonmythree
years at the Daily and impart some
sort of wisdom as I do it.
I'll gladly bid adieu to coming
home to a pitch-black house way
too late at night (which inevita-
bly led to dozing off in class the
next day). Lump that in with the
ridiculous joke of a paycheck, an
audience that is never pleased
and computers that always seem
to freeze just when you're almost
done with the page.
On the other hand, I'll be sad to
leave my co-workers who doubled
as road-trip companions. I'll miss
the access to world-class athletes
and coaches who were usually
pretty fun to talk to.
And the whole writing about
sports and having people read it
thing? That's not going to be easy
to give up either, (even if most peo-
ple did just rip out the crossword,
toss the paper on the ground and
leave a nice boot print on it after-
ward - yeah, I saw that).
These three years were always
full of tough times, and, in the
end, they were always worth it.
The hockey knowledge I gained
from talking to Michigan coach
Red Berenson on a daily basis is
something I consider priceless.
Anytime I sat in on practice at
Yost Ice Arena, I felt lucky. I had
oddly parent-like proud moments
when I saw a young writer or edi-
tor start to bloom into something
People talk about having
moments in the press box where
you smile and think about how
happy you are to have this as your
job.
It was never so for me. Like
I said, it became my life. And I
couldn't be happier that it did.
As for wisdom, I don't have
much other than never to lose
sight of that girl curled up in the
corner of a racquetball court
pouring over pages. That's where
my love for sports journalism lies,
and I hope that after I graduate
that reader still exists somewhere
on campus - dedicated, listening,
learning and always fascinated.
And hopefully, that person will
know that working for the Daily
could never be just a job.
- Colvin would like to thank all
her past beatmates, the Entourage
and the Buttercup, her family, the
CCRB for employing her for four
years and anyone who hires her
in the future. She can be reached
at ambermco@umich.edu.

I
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THEN CHECK OUT
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