Ten Things to Know About Sports at the University of Michigan


By Alison Denton Unigo Campus Rep at the University of Michigan November 10, 2008

Listed are the ten things to know about athletics at University of Michigan:

10. The Mascot The University of Michigan’s mascot is the Wolverine, but unlike most universities, you will not see the mascot being used to excite fans during the athletic games. The athletic department has, to this day, steadfastly denied the use of the mascot in this way. Nonetheless, this has not stopped Michigan students and athletes alike from calling themselves the “wolverines” since 1861.

9. The Program The University of Michigan is a Division I school that competes in the Big Ten Conference with 24 varsity teams. The most popular sports are football, basketball and ice hockey.  The varsity teams are known for their excellence and have been honored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics for the past ten years.

8. The Famous Alums The athletic program at the University of Michigan is known for starting the careers of many famous athletes. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is U of M football alum. Derek Jeter played for the Wolverine Baseball team. And Olympic gold-medal winner, Michel Phelps, trained with the men’s swimming and diving team prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. While the list goes on, University of Michigan is definitely the breading ground for some of the nation’s premiere athletic talent.

7. The Rivalries Like any good athletic program, University of Michigan would be nothing with out its athletic rivalries.  Competing in the Big Ten Conference, the football team’s biggest rivalries are with Michigan State, Notre Dame, and, of course, Ohio State. Each rivalry comes with its own traditions. In fact, Michigan and University of Minnesota compete every year for the “little brown jug”. The jug which has both school’s ‘M” on it is fought over every year in the hopes keeping it to mark the team’s victory until the following year.

6. The Winged Helmet The football team’s “winged helmet’ is one of the most recognizable icons in collegiate sports. In 1938, the design was first stitched into the cow-hide helmets and has thus remained the official helmet design to this day. While the design was originally intended to help the team’s halfbacks find receivers downfield, it is now used on the helmets and uniforms of many of the University of Michigan varsity teams.

5. The Fight Song “The Victors” is the fight song of the University of Michigan. The song which is easily the most recognizable collegiate fight-song was written in 1898 after the Wolverine football victory over the University of Chicago. While the song is most notably sung during football games, UM alumnus Gerald R. Ford famously used the Michigan fight-song during his presidential inauguration in 1974.

4. The Colors All varsity sports teams wear the colors maize and blue, the official colors of the University of Michigan. And, yes, maize is not just yellow.

3. The Stadium “The Big House” is the nickname for the Michigan football stadium. It is one of the largest college football stadiums, holding over 100,000 spectators. The Big House is also where the undergraduate commencement ceremony takes place every year.

2. The School Spirit In a phrase, school spirit at the University of Michigan can be described by “maize out”. The phenomenon which describes the collective efforts of tens of thousands of Wolverines supporters to wear the same color during sporting events is representative of the kind of bright and collective school spirit Michigan students have.

1. The Legacy Whether its varsity football or its club sports, the athletics at University of Michigan has a notable athletic tradition. With its devotion to excellence and honor, and , the Wolverine legacy makes most athletes happy to be able to call themselves Wolverines. To be a part of an athlete tradition over 150 years in the making is what makes Michigan students committed and life-long Wolverine fans after graduation. That’s just the Michigan legacy.

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