Michigan regents douse fireworks, fun

My wife is lukewarm about fireworks. The program for our wedding actually read: "Christina is unimpressed by fireworks." Sometimes I check her passport to make sure she's American.

For most of the rest of us, fireworks are great. They're a nice addition to sporting events, both during games and afterward. Kids love them; parents love that their kids are entertained by them.

But the University of Michigan's regents don't believe fireworks belong at the Big House. The regents on Thursday voted down a request from the athletic department to have fireworks for two games this season: Sept. 13 against Miami (Ohio) and Oct. 11 against Penn State. The athletic department wanted to set off fireworks after Michigan scores, during halftime and after the game, where a more extended display would be held.

It's part of an effort to enhance the game-day experience. Michigan has gotten better at this in recent years, especially with the stadium renovations that better hold sound and also with the long overdue introduction of night games. It wasn't enough to have the biggest stadium any more. Michigan had fireworks for the Michigan Stadium rededication game against Connecticut in 2010 and also for a hockey game against Michigan State later that year.

Fireworks could have been a nice addition -- maybe not after touchdowns but certainly after the game -- yet they're not happening.

Hilarious quotes in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

"It is not prudent to have close-proximity fireworks at a crowded bowl-style stadium where, if something went wrong, panic could ensue with limited opportunity for a flight to safety," regent Laurence Deitch said at Thursday's meeting. "And I reached that conclusion before I knew this was going to happen mid-game, with a couple thousand people on the field itself."

But wait, it gets better ...

“We are not Comerica Park, Disney World or a circus ..." regent Mark Bernstein said. "I love Michigan football for what it is ... and for what it is not. It remains and should be an experience, a place that resists the excesses of our culture; intentionally simple. The fireworks should be on the field, not above it."

Intentionally simple? Resists the excesses of our culture?

It's 2014. Michigan football is a big business. It generates a ridiculous amount of money for the university. You could easily say college football itself is an excess of our culture. There's no going back.

And while Michigan's history/tradition is a huge part of its program, most of today's fans want more than an intentionally simple experience.

It doesn't mean no band, no big blue banner or no noon kickoffs. You can have all of it. Colleges asuch as LSU, Florida State, Oklahoma and Missouri don't have a problem with them.

I'm sure some Michigan fans will be pleased by the regents' ruling. I'd be stunned if they're under 35. Maybe Michigan is OK with this approach.

But if the goal is to improve the stadium experience, especially for younger fans, with a fairly benign addition, the Michigan regents missed an opportunity here.