Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is an interesting college to follow athletically, as most all of us were not born into the fandom of our Eagles. With where our campus sits, most of us grew up rooting for the University of Michigan, Michigan State, or even Ohio State. These were the schools that our parents rooted for, these schools were on television, and their gear was readily available in stores. If you grew up rooting for EMU as your number one team then I applaud you.
Growing up as a huge college sports fan, I pictured myself waking up for an 8 a.m. class and throwing on baggy sweatpants with an oversized hoodie showing off my school's logo. This vision was usually of me wearing maize and blue as I grew up as a huge Michigan athletics fan. Even now my closet has more Michigan shirts than I should admit to. Imagine my surprise when I transferred in from a community college and saw as much Michigan and State gear as I did Eastern gear, my first few days on campus.
I get it, I really do. It's hard to change a couple of decades of fandom after getting accepted to a small school like Eastern. Competing for MAC titles isn't as glamorous or as much of a talking point as competing for Big Ten titles and national titles. Nailing your look for tailgating in Ann Arbor or East Lansing means being seen by more people than EMU tailgates where people are drinking beers in the Rynearson lot. While apparel from larger schools is plentiful and easy to find, it doesn't help that unless you're buying your gear from Meijer, the only local place to buy school gear is the bookstore which is priced on the high side, to say the least.
Schools like Michigan, MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame have enough supporters. They don't need you to be wearing their gear around our campus. Often you may be in class with members of Eastern's athletic programs, and it would be nice if they saw your support for them and not some school that you probably couldn't get into. Contrary to popular belief, Eastern competes at the same level of college athletics as its Big Ten counterparts. There should be a palpable feeling of school spirit when you look around a lecture or dining hall. It's not easy being a fan of EMU athletics and if it was then maybe we would see a lot more Eagle gear on campus. It is a lot easier to be a fan of the larger schools but where's the pride in that?
I'm not saying to leave your fandom for those larger empires behind once you come to Eastern. That is a part of you. You just don't need to wear it to the student center, the eateries, to class or EMU sporting events. Think of how many times you have ventured down Washtenaw Ave to Ann Arbor and passed anyone wearing any college apparel other than the U of M. That standard and level of school pride should be the same here as it is there. Last fall I had a class where this guy next to me had on a Central hoodie, EMU football was playing at CMU that week.
Sure, it was a night class and typically outfits for a night class can be fairly out there. It was a nice hoodie but I took it to mean that he was more of a Chippewa fan than an Eastern fan. That would be the equivalent of a MSU student wearing something Ohio State to class, or for those of you in Greek life, it would be like wearing another sorority's letters.
I could see wearing a Notre Dame polo to class if you attended one of the smaller schools in the area like an Adrian College or Sienna Heights where they don't compete at the division one level or at a community college where they may or may not have an athletic program, but while you're here show some love for our Eagles.
Now don't throw away your gear or burn it. Feel free to wear it around your hometown, or out to B-Dubs but leave it in your closet while on campus. This is Eastern, show some respect for those athletes that you share the sidewalks and dorms with. Show some spirit for the school who is helping you grow. You are only here for four or five years, after those four or five years you will have plenty of time to wear gear from other schools along with your EMU alumni sweatshirt hopefully.