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Pure Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed the week beginning Saturday as Trails Week in Michigan to celebrate the state's more than 12,000 miles of trails and waterways.

The state Department of Natural Resources is teaming with local communities and organizations to host related events and volunteer opportunities.

The observance ends Sept. 27, when Recreation Passports and vehicle entry fees will be waived at state parks and recreation areas to honor National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest volunteer cleanup day.

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In 1895, the presidents of seven Midwestern universities met at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to form what we now call the Big Ten. They created the world’s first school-based sports organization, predating even the NCAA. 

Soon the rest of the country’s colleges and high schools followed suit, forming their own leagues based on the Big Ten model. 

J.D. Martinez crushed a two-run blast in Saturday's victory over the Indians.
User: Detroit Tigers / facebook

 

The waning weeks of the regular baseball season have turned into a real roller-coaster ride for the Tigers and their fans.

The Tigers got clobbered by the Twins last night, losing 8-4. And Kansas City won, so that American League Central Division lead is down to just a half game over the Royals. Now the Tigers head to Kansas City for three games that could be the most important series of the season.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says as of now, the Tigers' chance to make it into the playoffs is 91%, according to ESPN. 

There are 10 games still ahead of the team.

* Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

User: Michigan Women's Track and Field / facebook

Wolverine fans, here's a question for you: What is the best team on campus?

Take the spotlight off football and basketball for a minute, and shine it on the Wolverine team that is ranked No.1 in the nation. According to the NCAA, it's the Michigan Women's Cross-Country team.

Brook Handler of Rochester Hills is the team's captain. She says they train hard everyday and cheer each other on during races. 

"Everyone really really wants to get to that top spot, and the drive that this team has is tenfold what it was a few years ago," says Handler.

* Listen to our conversation with Brook Handler above.

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The  football teams of the University of Michigan and the University of Texas have agreed – in principle – to play each other.

In 2024. So don't hold your breath.

U of M has racked up the highest number of total victories; Texas, the third highest.

From the Michigan press release:

The Wolverines will host the Longhorns at Michigan Stadium on Aug. 31, 2024. The return trip by Michigan to Austin will take place on Sept. 4, 2027.

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Two months ago, the Ilitch family's Olympia Development of Michigan announced plans for a new sports and entertainment district to be built on largely vacant land between downtown and midtown Detroit.

The center piece of the development would be a new home for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tomorrow night, the public will get its first look at the details of the new $450 million venue as Olympia officials present the plans at a meeting of the Detroit City Planning Commission.

David Uberti from the Detroit area recently wrote a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review as its Delacorte fellow. He looks at the way reporters cover new stadium constructions not just in Detroit, but across the country. 

And he notes a distinct "cheerlead first, ask questions later" approach.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of a plan to bring pro-baseball to downtown Jackson may make their pitch official this week.

The group behind the ballpark plan isn’t saying much just yet. But they do have a website.

It says the group is conducting a market study. They’re trying to gauge potential public support for the plan which would include a privately financed stadium and possibly a crowd-source funded team of players.

There are about a half dozen minor league and independent baseball teams in Michigan:

Brady Hoke.
User MGoBlog / Flickr

 

After the University of Michigan's football blowout loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, there's some talk about Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and his job security. 

John U. Bacon is Michigan Radio's sports commentator. He says Michigan hasn't proven to be tough facing road games.

"This team under Hoke is 0-12 on the road against ranked teams. In other word, whenever they play anybody good on the road, they lose, every single time, " says Bacon.

Bacon says Hoke was brought to Michigan with high hopes. Hoke's goal every year is to win Big Ten title, which Michigan failed to achieve during the past three years of his term.

"This year, if it's not make or break for Hoke, it sure is close," says Bacon.

* Listen to our conversation with Bacon above.

Creighton Miller carrying the football for Notre Dame against the 1943 Michigan team. Bob Rennebohm of Michigan (wearing jersey #88) is also pictured.
1944 Michiganensian

Michigan and Notre Dame have the longest running duel among major college powers, and one of the best. But that seems to be coming to an end this Saturday – and with a twist: For the first time, it’s Notre Dame that’s backing out.

The rivalry between Michigan and Notre Dame goes back to 1887, when a band of boys from Michigan took a train to South Bend and literally taught their counterparts how to play the game.  

Michigan State football
User: spartanjoe / Flickr

It's a big football weekend for Michigan State University. The No. 7  Spartans head to Oregon to play the No. 3 Ducks on Saturday.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says this one sure is grabbing lots of national attention.

“Many consider this the best non-conference matchup of the entire season, which is saying a lot, and the Spartans haven’t met one of those in quite a while,” says Bacon.

This weekend, Bacon says he’ll mainly watch to see if Michigan state’s defense can stop Oregon’s offense.“(Oregon’s) quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate, and if they can stop him, that’s a whole different game,” says Bacon.*Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

The 2007 Michigan - Appalachian State game.
user Derrick S. / Flickr

Well, it goes back to 2007, the year the NCAA allowed schools to add a 12th regular season game, for no reason but revenue.

Yes, another shameless money grab on the backs, knees, and skulls of amateur athletes. 

To find an extra opponent, Michigan had to scramble.

When a Division I-AA team called Appalachian State agreed to come to Ann Arbor for a flat fee of $400,000, fans wondered why Michigan had scheduled a team from the second tier for the first time – and, where the heck is that place?

It turns out Appalachian State isn’t even a state.  (I looked it up.)    

Their fight song didn’t instill much fear, either: “Hi-Hi-yike-us.  No-body like us.  We are the Mountaineers!  Always a-winning.  Always a-grinning.  Always a-feeling fine.  You bet, hey.  Go Apps!”

“The Victors,” it was not.

Michigan Stadium.
UM Photography

Saturday brings the start of a new college football season. Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to talk about what is in store for the teams.

Bacon discussed the re-match between Michigan Wolverines and Appalachian State, the pending Michigan State against Jacksonville State game, and the Big Ten.

*Listen to the full interview with John Bacon above. 

Derek Jeter in 2009.
Keith Allison / Flickr

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

Michigan Photography

When you think of a team of student athletes, the phrase "game face" comes to mind. When they face their opponents, they don’t blink. They are there to win.

Now, imagine being a part of that "suck-it-up" culture as the young athletes struggle with mental illness, with depression. 

Will Heininger knows how it felt like. As he played for the University of Michigan as a lineman, he was battling with severe depression.

Heininger says it was incredibly difficult dealing with the hopeless feelings, but he didn’t know what depression was at the time, because it wasn’t talked about when he was growing up.

“At first, I really tried to do the athlete thing: 'I'm tougher than this I'm gonna beat it, and just grind it out' ...and, of course, that made it way, way worse," says Heininger.

Real Madrid and Manchester United played in a Corazon Classic Match in 2012.
User: Never House / Flickr

This year, we’ve heard more about soccer than ever in the U.S. More than 26 million people in the U.S. watched the World Cup in Brazil. And we are just about to get hit with more soccer here in Michigan.

Two of the biggest teams in professional soccer are going to be playing at the football stadium at the University of Michigan. Manchester United and Real Madrid will be playing on Aug. 2 in Ann Arbor.

Andy Markovits joined us today. He teaches political science at the University of Michigan and has written widely about soccer.

Markovits believes this game will set an attendance record for a soccer match in the U.S.

“I’m expecting a packed stadium.”

Despite the fact that the two teams are playing for commercial reasons, Markovits said the event would give the University of Michigan “a global forum that is second to none.”

“These two different cultures, different languages meeting in one ground… I'm ecstatic to see it in my lifetime,” Markovits said.

* Listen to the interview with Andy Markovits above.

Fireworks.
user Colin K / Flickr

The University of Michigan’s athletic director sent a proposal to the University’s Regents, requesting permission to set off fireworks during two football games this fall. When the Regents turned down the request, it suggested the balance of power might be shifting. 

At first blush, the question of post-game fireworks didn’t seem like a big deal either way. On Michigan fan blogs, reactions were mixed.

As for the University’s Regents, they have bigger things to worry about. Even the athletic department’s budget which has grown by 50%, to $150 million dollars might seem like a lot to us, but that’s a rounding error at the University’s hospital.

So when the Regents voted down the fireworks for two games this season, it got people’s attention.

Wikimedia Commons

All summer we’ve been exploring different ways to enjoy our Michigan waters.

We’ve discovered great snorkeling, scuba diving, and even surfing. And now we can add SUP, Stand Up Paddling, to the list.

Brody Welte, a Michigan native, is based in San Diego and is the head of Paddlefit. He’s become a national leader in Stand-Up Paddling.

Wikimedia Commons

It's been 15 years since the Detroit Tigers played their final game at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

The old Tiger Stadium was torn down in 2009. Since then, no one's been able to agree on what to do with the 10-acre site until now.

The field will remain for youth sports, including high school and college baseball.  Along Cochrane Avenue, a new headquarters will be built for the Detroit Police Athletic League, who will maintain the playing field. The headquarters would extend from the street to roughly the old third base line and could cost almost $10 million.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher said this plan represents a merger of two conflicting visions – preserving the field for baseball - and developing it for new businesses and jobs.

“I think everybody gets a little something out of this,” Gallagher said.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Melanie Kruvelis

The World Cup is over. And even if you weren't rooting for Germany or Argentina, the game was really something to watch. (Germany won, for all the non-sports fans out there.)

In addition to the game itself, the fans are just as fun to watch.

They paint flags on their faces, and scream, and cry a lot. 

Those fans exist outside of Brazil, too. There's an intense support section for the Detroit City Football Club. The minor league soccer team is called Le Rouge, and is in its third season.

Before the game, a lot of fans and supporters go to a bar and rally the troops.

Then the "Northern Guard" march to the stadium. There are smoke bombs, drums, gas masks, megaphones, and a lot of rouge and gold. 

Throughout the entire game, there's chanting -- some of which could never air on public radio.

According to Alex Wright, one of the DCFC co-owners, about 2/3 of the team play for their college team during the school year. The home games at Cass Tech High School began selling out this season, and Friday's game sold out by record numbers. 

Wright said that he and the other co-owners wanted to create the team because they're committed to the city. Wright doesn't believe that soccer is going to save Detroit, but it's just a reason to feel good about what's going on in the city. 

DCFC's season is over now, but fans like "Big Vytau" plan to come back next year -- and probably for a few years after that.

*Listen to the full interview above

user: Edwin Martinez / Flickr

  

Last summer, I told you about Coach Mac, my little league baseball coach who believed in me, and helped me rise from the team’s worst player to become the team’s captain in one season.

I didn’t know where my old coach was, but after the story aired, I received a thank you letter from Coach Mac himself. This week, Coach Mack passed away.

The summer before Mac McKenzie became our little league baseball coach, I spent the season picking dandelions in right field, and batting last. But just weeks after Coach Mac took over, I rose to starting catcher, lead-off hitter, and team captain.

Sonja Stark / Flickr

When it comes to great places to SCUBA dive, lots of people immediately think of the waters of the Caribbean or Mexico, with lots of amazing underwater life, beautiful coral, gentle warm water.

But there’s a hardy group of SCUBA divers who point to Michigan as one of the best places to dive.

In the Caribbean, you’re looking at coral and fish. But lakes have great shipwrecks that are over 150 years old.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Soccer fans packed World Cup watch parties across Michigan Monday evening.

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana.    The watch party doubled as a fundraiser to collect money to help rehab Flint’s 85-year-old Atwood Stadium. 

“It’s encouraging,” says Tom Saxton, Michigan State University’s women’s soccer coach, “The game gets better and better every year in the United States, and we're excited to be a part of it.”

Next up for Team USA is a very strong Portugal team. 

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

UM Ford School

Last week, I explained why Michigan students are dropping football tickets in record numbers.

It touched a nerve – actually a few thousand nerves.  Not just among Michigan fans, but college football fans nationwide.

It’s all well and good to criticize Michigan’s athletic administration – and cathartic for the fans, apparently.  But it doesn’t solve the central problem: How can they keep fans happy?

Allow me to offer a few suggestions.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flick

Imagine an international trail around the Great Lakes. Biking. Hiking. Paddling.

7,000 miles, stretching through eight states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

That goal was the focus of the recent Great Lakes Coastal Trail Conference.

Dave Lemberg is an associate professor of geography at Western Michigan University and he's with the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association.

Lemberg said the trail is not just for hiking, it also includes sea kayaking, biking, and motoring. The trail will add to the Great Lakes Circle tours, which goes around all the lakes.

The goal is to connect the shoreline cities, resort beach towns, state parks and other areas around the Great Lakes.  

*Listen to full interview above. 

A typical student's view inside the Big House.
Andrew Horne / wikimedia commons

Last week, Michigan Athletics admitted student football ticket sales are down —from about 21,000 two years ago to just 13,000 this fall.  

How’d Michigan lose so many students so fast?

A lot of hard work.

Athletic Director Dave Brandon has often cited the difficulty of using cell phones at Michigan Stadium as "the biggest challenge we have."  But when Michigan students ranked seven factors for buying season tickets, they ranked cell phones dead last. 

What did they rank first?  Being able to sit with their friends. 

user: Marcus Qwertyus / Wikimedia Commons

When Michael Sam told his University of Missouri teammates he was gay before last season, it wasn’t a big deal. It’s a safe bet that NFL teams – who know what kind of gum their prospects chew – already knew this, too. But when Sam came out publicly, it changed the equation. 

The NFL has already had gay players, so that’s not new. But publicly declaring you’re gay is new – and so is the onslaught of media attention.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The planned auction of parts of the old Pontiac Silverdome is on hold.

This week, parts of the Silverdome were supposed to go on sale.

People were going to be able to buy forklifts, generators, soap dispensers, and even a Zamboni.

But the sale is now on hold for up to three weeks, and it’s not clear why.

Northwestern's Kain Colter is tackled during a game with Army in 2011. Colter has argued the players should be allowed to form a union.
West Point / Flickr

Earlier this spring, the National Labor Relations Board made big headlines when it granted Northwestern University football players permission to unionize if they chose to. 

That decision has opened up a big national discussion and debate over whether college athletes should be recognized as school employees. 

So we wanted to bring in sports commentator and coach, John U. Bacon. His most recent book is Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football

Listen to the full interview above. 

Adam Glanzman / Flickr

When Mitch McGary played high school basketball in New Hampshire, he was one of the nation’s top recruits. Michigan fans were rightly thrilled when he decided to play for the Wolverines.   

In his first NCAA tournament, last spring, McGary played so well folks thought he might jump to the NBA. Instead, he returned for his sophomore year – then injured his back so badly, he needed surgery mid-season. The Wolverines weren’t doing much better at 6-4, with Big Ten conference play still ahead. It looked like Michigan might miss the NCAA tournament. 

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