Wisconsin is a contradiction in many ways. The state was the birthplace of the Progressive Party and has the only socialist sports franchise in America (the fan-owned Packers), but has also unleashed Tea Party darlings Paul Ryan and Scott Walker on the nation. With that kind of bipolar disposition (and politicians that hate giving any money to anything other than their own bank accounts), it’s a miracle the University of Wisconsin is able to get anything done.
The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1848 and strives to teach the “Wisconsin Idea,” which is similar to the “Cardinal Way” (by which I mean utter and complete bullshit). The “Wisconsin Idea” is all about advising on public policy and creating a strong legislature. Maybe during the Progressive Era this worked, but now that Wisconsin is a “right to work” state and is in violation of its own minimum wage law, I think we can call the “Wisconsin Idea” a bust.
Madison is the home of UW and also the capital of the state. Madison became the capital when the city’s founder bribed the legislature with buffalo robes and discounts on lots in Madison. The bribery was an attempt to be as good at political corruption as Illinois, a bar the state could never quite live up to.
Madison is a very white town, literally and figuratively. The population is 78.9% white (nationally white people make up 72.4% of the population, Champaign is 67.8% white) and the city’s great culture consists of a chamber orchestra playing free shows, the band Garbage, the Madison ballet, a big Farmer’s Market… I could go on, but pretty soon everyone reading this is just going to get the taste of mayonnaise in their mouth and I don’t want to be responsible for that.
Wisconsin’s state animal is the badger, thus the animal UW uses as its mascot is the badger. Badgers are primarily solitary animals, which is sensible, because if you know someone who went to UW you probably wish they were solitary animals every time they mention their time in Madison. Wisconsin is called “the badger state” not because it is overly populated by badgers, but because of miners who used to dig and live in tunnels during Wisconsin winters, which is basically like saying “Our state sucks so much six months out of the year that we’d rather be underground.”
Wisconsin athletics are… actually pretty good. They’re kind of fucking up the whole spirit of this article, so here’s a list of random things that suck about UW athletically or otherwise:
- Bo Ryan’s hair and general “what the hell is wrong with this guy” appearance
- That time 26 football players got suspended
- The Wisconsin associate athletic director who touched men inappropriately
- Wisconsin’s connection to the dirty University of Miami athletics department
- A conservative group accusing UW of admitting minorities over more deserving whites
Unfortunately there isn’t enough junk in the world to make anyone feel better about the buzzsaw the Illini are walking into at Camp Randall this Saturday. Actual Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon going against a team that made Purdue running backs look like Heisman candidates will be ugly. If you’d like to inflict pain upon yourself or just enjoy watching the Beckman empire burn, kick off is Saturday at 11 a.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.