Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spirit Of Detroit

First off, sorry about no Final Four Friday. It should return next week.

This week the Wayne County Commission suggested that a $25,000 fee to dress the Spirit of Detroit statue in a jersey to celebrate the success of local sports teams be dropped after everyone was balking at paying such a high price for showing a little bit of team pride. The outrage was brought on by the success of both the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings, and the fact that the statue couldn't join in the fun. Fans of Detroit teams have grown accustomed to seeing the statue wearing their favorite colors come playoff time, and suddenly ending that tradition pissed many people off.

Thing is, I could honestly care less. It's not that I don't want the statue dressed up, cause I do. It's more that my outrage came and went back around the 1st of April.

It was back then that the question of putting a Spartan jersey on the statue was considered because of their success getting to the Final Four, also in Detroit. MSU was told "Sure, that will be $25,000 please" and they rightfully said "eh... no thanks."

Some of us were outraged. More people were not. And so the statue didn't dress up, and on went life. Now, just a month later, Detroit citizens are up in arms over the issue. What does this say about MSU's relationship with Detroit?

During the Final Four, MSU proudly adopted Detroit as it's second home, and they seemed embraced by a city that has fallen on hard times. Kalin Lucas went as far as lying to the NCAA (Just a little white lie) and had his hometown announced as Detroit, to show solidarity with the city (and perhaps to get a loud cheer during pregame).

MSU has also made Detroit area recruiting a top priority, scheduling basketball games at the Palace of Auburn Hills and Ford Field and scheduling (and then canceling) a football game for Ford Field.

In recruiting, there have been commitments recently that suggest this strategy is paying off. But, what is MSU's standing and status with the average Detroit sports fan? If measuring the fan outrage over the statue incident is any indicator, then the Spartans still have a long way to go to truly capture the hearts of those in Detroit.

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