Let me first of all start out by saying that there are layers of tolerance that I have for particular Michigan fans. First let us examine the most tolerable. Those are students and alumni of the University of Michigan who do nothing more outside of root for their team. If one can look past their repulsive (and many times undeserved) arrogance, one can simply understand the desire that one would feel to root for the team representing their Alma matter. For the most part, these fans have respectful qualities.
Second, are the far worse Michigan fans who root for Michigan, gloat about Michigan, act as if Michigan athletes are some form of maize and blue gods, yet have NO connection to the university. AT ALL. These fans have simply adopted Michigan as "their" team, although there really is justification to this. In fact, one can be surprised if these types of fans can name a mere handful of players on "their" team.
Third, and unquestionably the worst, are people who either attend or have attended other institutions that often play Michigan, yet are still "Michigan fans." These types of fans are the most intolerable because such people seem to put their "loyalty" to their team on rent. Simply put, when their school plays Michigan, and Michigan is victorious, it's "Hail to the victors" as they rub it in their fellow students’ faces. Yet when Michigan falls to their school, they feel perfectly justified in participating in the victory celebrations with their fellow students.
These are your three basic types of Michigan fans. I will now examine each of them more in depth beginning with the most former type of fan that I have mentioned.
As stated before, Michigan fans that actually have got to Michigan or are presently going to Michigan can be classified as the least hated. Though there is still much to be said for these fans. First, a trait of arrogance exists throughout all of them. We Spartans know this all to well when we are expected to believe such moronic statements such as "[Michigan State] is like our pesky little brother/sister". Or the more idiotic: "We don't really care about you guys, we care about beating Ohio State." This assumed superiority breeds the type of hatred that these types of Michigan fans claim not to understand. It really is quite a simple concept, and on that point it confuses me that the people of the "9th Ivy League University" cannot figure out this simple fact.
Second, you have the Michigan fans that have no connection to the university. Though they lack a connection, they will NEVER hesitate to gloat all the same, and actually more, than those who actually have a connection to the university. What is humorous however, is the struggle that these fans engage in when their lack of connection is called into question. Being a life-long Michigan State fan, I find it fun to ask a gloating Michigan fan a simple question: "what year did you graduate from Michigan?" 9 of 10 times this question is not answered immediately with a date, but with a form babbling that defines stupidity. That is to say, they will engage in some far-off explanation that connects them to the university. It resembles a man trying to convince a lottery winner that he is somehow a distant relative. "Well, all my friends go to Michigan." "My parents [who still have no connection] always cheered for Michigan when I grew up." Or the most revealing of their "loyalty", "Well, Michigan usually wins."
Finally, there are the most detestable fans that attend different institutions. I specifically know of three Michigan fans that attend or once attended Michigan State and it is simply detesting. These are the people who will pretend to passionately root for Michigan State against a team like Wisconsin or Purdue in order to "fit in". However, once Michigan comes to town, all bets are off. Suddenly all we get to hear from these people is how great Michigan is and how badly "'WE' are going to beat 'YOU GUYS'". When Michigan wins these people are on cloud nine making sure just about every Michigan State student is reminded of the game's result. But when Michigan loses, these people, rather than hide in disgrace, join the celebration with outlandish justifications such as "well, I root for both teams" or "well, I go to State." We don't buy it, not even for a nickel. Unlike the Michigan fan base, we at Michigan State don't allow you to negotiate your loyalty.
Of course at the root of all of this hatred is the gloating. But more than the gloating is the fact that Michigan fans want to have it both ways. They can dish it out, but like any kitten in a tiger suit, they can't take it. This is to say they attempt to limit an intelligent conversation about Michigan and Michigan State athletics to their presently more successful football program. If you're a Michigan State fan trying to shift the conversation to basketball, you'll be immediately informed or reminded that "We [Michigan fans] don't care about basketball." This is an interesting comment given the amount of gloating I had to endure during the "Fab 5" era, now known as the "cheating" era. It's clear to anyone with a brain. Michigan fans only "care" about those things that they can gloat about.
Recently I took the time to go to a Michigan basketball game and was just astounded by how quickly Michigan fans will abandon their teams if said teams are not nationally ranked. Walking into Crisler Arena, I couldn't help thinking of the similarities between this arena and the Roman Coliseum. A venue once so full of vibrance and excitement that sparked intimidation with its mere mention. But now, a lifeless, empty void with the exception of the Maize Rage [admittedly a very good student section, despite its small size] and a speckling of people throughout the arena acting as if attending the game was their last resort as oppose to their first priority. At one point, while the game was still in progress, I was asked by someone in the stands to please lower my voice (I was talking to my friend, not cheering for Michigan). It's a sporting event, not an opera. How pathetic!!!
In my three years as a Michigan State student I have never known a football or basketball game that was not sold out, even in the face of mediocrity Spartans have stayed true to their team. Wolverines do not, forgetting their team in less successful times, but then gaining the tenacity to boast to the world how great they are in times of great success. And you Michigan fans wonder why you're hated?!