My little sister came to town this weekend'all the way from Tucson, Ariz. With her she brought her usual complaints about the cold and an article she had copied from her school's student newspaper. It was an account of 17 Wildcat fans coming to Madison for the very first time. It talked about how these diehard University of Arizona fans came wanting to prove to us \cheeseheads"" that their school was no longer ""just a basketball school."" Though a 21-point defeat (which some may remember as our fifth straight victory of the year) caused them to quickly rescind the statement, they nonetheless left with nothing but good things to say about the Madtown.
They described State Street as a collection of taverns that ""would make any bar-dwelling UA student drool."" They commented on students wearing red and white to the bars at night and said that the same thing would never occur in Arizona. The main difference, they believed, was that UW students ""seem to be proud of their school."" They talked with admiration of eating a ""hearty Midwest breakfast"" at 7 a.m. consisting of brats and beer and called Camp Randall ""one of the best places in the country to watch a football game.""
It's always interesting to hear what others have to say about us.
Madison is a unique student town unrivaled, I think, by any campus in the country. And though these words may seem biased, or easily dismissible as the ramblings of a nostalgic fifth-year senior on his way out, they are ones I will firmly stand by.
As a contributing writer for The Daily Cardinal for more than two years now (and holding a desire to see old high school friends spread out over the Midwest), I have traveled to almost every Big Ten campus and have not found a single one that even compares. Madison is a special place and this ""specialness"" is in many ways exemplified by the atmosphere created on game day Saturdays.
In a Wisconsin State Journal article leading up to last week's game, Penn State coach Joe Paterno echoed this statement describing Madison, due to its fan support, as one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten. ""I think the Wisconsin crowd is as loud as any crowd we've played before,"" he said.
Wisconsin Head Coach Barry Alvarez went one step further in a letter he issued to students last week detailing, among other things, how the Indianapolis Star recently rated Camp Randall as having the absolute best game day atmosphere in all the Big Ten.
Despite Saturday's outcome, my sister left Sunday with the same renewed respect for the state that she chose to move so far away from. She promised her next visit would be soon and took with her three souvenirs she had bought from the bookstore. They were three different pictures of three different scenes of Madison, together collectively capturing the very essence of the city. The first was a picture of the terrace on a beautiful summer day with numerous sailboats in the background. The second was a shot of the Capitol, gloriously lit up at night. The third was of the stands of Camp Randall filled to the brim with screaming UW fans. ""It looks like it must have been a big game,"" she said, saving this third photograph for last.
I took a long look at the sea of red and white and told her I had no idea.
Think Madison is the greatest football town ever? Think somewhere else can claim the title? Still don't know when Halloween is? E-mail Stumm at firstname.lastname@example.org.