Brawl Follows High-Tension Michigan v. Michigan State Game


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Michigan football defeats Michigan State, 29-7, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI on October 29, 2022.

Despite the hostile, die-hard Ohio State fanbase and talented team of players, the Michigan Wolverines emerged victorious in their annual post-Thanksgiving weekend football game, defeating the Buckeyes despite unfavorable odds. Following the game, both teams exited the field peacefully, a change from the shocking fight that broke out after a Michigan game weeks earlier.

Weeks prior to their bout against Ohio State, on Oct. 29, the Wolverines defeated another rival school, Michigan State. Following the victory in Ann Arbor, Mich., defensive backs Ja’Den McBurrows and Gemon Green were beaten by a group of Michigan State Spartans in the stadium tunnel. Both young players were not seriously injured from the brawl.

“Five players — Itayvion Brown, Angelo Grose, Justin White, Brandon Wright and Zion Young — were charged with one count of aggravated assault. Jacoby Windmon was charged with assault and battery. Those six charges are all misdemeanors,” according to Yahoo Sports.

The Big Ten conference fosters competition among some of the most talented, young football players in the world and continues to host ruthless school-to-school rivalries. Schools in the conference include Indiana University, the University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The surrounding enthusiasm from fans, students, and alumni creates a pressured atmosphere. Young men, praised their entire lives, are now forced to accept a difficult losing outcome. The stakes, seemingly insurmountable, can cause highly-regarded athletes to act irrationally.

Chase Webster, Williston senior and Michigan State Spartans fan, was appalled by the fight following the Michigan – Michigan State game.

“I think that the players’ reactions were completely inappropriate and uncalled for,” said Chase.

While some agree physicality is never an acceptable reaction, the age and maturity level of players is rarely accounted for. While it is commonly overlooked, college football players are often teenagers.

Senior Williston student and college football fan Jaxon “Ziggy” Zemachson does not completely fault Michigan State, understanding the intense emotions caused by Big Ten football games. It may be time for some renovations in the Big House, Michigan’s stadium, Ziggy said.

“I think that what happened is unfortunate, and I do think that the players on Michigan State that beat them up fully deserve the punishment and charges, but at the same time, I think it’s Michigan’s fault for having one tunnel,” said Ziggy. “After all these incidents between Ohio State in the past few years, Penn State this year, this Michigan State this now, they just need to get a new tunnel. If they want this to stop, obviously it’s unacceptable for both parties to fight, but at the same time, Michigan needs to get the necessary renovations.”

A tunnel is the path from the dressing room to the field at top-class football stadiums. While many universities have separate tunnels for each team, Michigan’s Big House only has one.

High-emotion game environments are not limited to collegiate-level events. Williston offensive lineman and Division I football commit Dom di Filippo summarized his intensified gameplay against rival teams.

“Williston football’s biggest rivalry is undoubtably Suffield Academy. This doesn’t only apply for, you know, just a football team, but for every other sport,” Dom, a senior from Montreal, said. “We also have a weekend where all our varsity teams play Suffield. I play every game hard against rival teams and non-rival teams, but you know coaches all emphasize that rival games are huge at Williston. I always give that extra effort, that extra push. The energy makes me even more hungrier to beat our rival team.”