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Pure Upper Michigan sports/The Red Line

August 23, 2012
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Apparently, the state of Michigan is producing new license plates that have "Pure Michigan," the state's advertising slogan on them. The campaign has been successful, so who can blame them for doubling down?

However, I haven't seen the U.P. mentioned in any of them. My hope is that because they're trying to keep the U.P. super-secret, like for "Gold" Pure Michigan members only. My suspicion is that it's much cheaper to film a Pure Michigan spot on Lake St. Clair than it is on Lake Medora.

There are already some great parodies out there on YouTube, of Tigers fans, Lions fans, University of Michigan football, but I feel like sports in the U.P. really haven't been addressed. So, warm up Tim Allen and cue up that tinkly piano music (the main theme from "The Cider House Rules" and the soaring landscape shots.


"On U.P. track finals day, the whole peninsula comes together. You can see it in the bright colors of the athletes' uniforms, you can feel it in the green grass on the infield, you can hear it in the audible gasp when that kid from Carney wipes out in the slow heat of the 110 hurdles. It's like six track meets in one, which just makes it six times more likely you're on the wrong side of the field when the kid you're trying to get a picture of just broke a U.P. record in the shot. The athletes are running at top speed, but the lines aren't, especially when you're starving at the concessions stand or held up on the infield for another heat of the D-3 girls' 800. It's magical to see the U.P.'s best athletes give it their all while you and the other reporters sit in the grass because your feet hurt. And when it's all over, and the sun is setting, you race too, hoping to beat a bus from Marquette to the same fast-food restaurant before you start the three-hour drive home. Hurdles. Lines. Buses. Pure Michigan."


"You can see it from miles away as you drive into Marquette, rising above the city like a giant silver pimple. It's the Superior Dome. It was the coolest thing ever for high schools in the 90s, but those turf burns and electric shocks from the carpet are just old faded memories now. As you look into the soaring wooden roof on a colorful day in late September, you find yourself wondering "Why am I watching a football game inside on a day like this?" As you look into the soaring roof on a whiteout day in early November, you find yourself wondering, "Will my car start?" That is, if you can hear yourself think over the people complaining about how much better it was when the Wildcats played at Memorial Field ... and Lakeview Arena ... and Hedgcock Fieldhouse. Of course, it's just five people talking, but the acoustics are so crazy in there that everything bounces off the walls until it's completely unintelligible. Those are the echoes of days gone by. Or a game against Grand Valley in 1998. Echoes. The roof. The dome. Pure Michigan."


"Friday night on the high school gridiron. Cheerleaders, fans, the band. Oh, but they've all stayed home tonight because it's 45 degrees and

raining sideways. The clarinet section knows this stuff can damage their instruments and cause hypothermia, but you're out there, trying to take pictures through a hole in a plastic bag and praying they run a sweep to your side you can run to the press box to dry out and watch both teams run it into the line for a while. Those mudders can be memories for the kids on the field, but no one will see it in the paper unless you figure out how to thaw your fingers out before deadline. You can pray for it, but there's always at least one every football season. Man up. Forty-five degrees. Sideways rain. Mud. It's Labor Day weekend in Pure Michigan."


So, I'll be shipping these scripts and many more off to Tim Allen to read. Think he can pronounce Ontonagon right on the first take?

Brandon Veale can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at



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