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Michigan State University

MSU Traditions: Guardians of the Green and White

MSU Band members guard Sparty

MSU Traditions: Guardians of the Green and White

At the heart of campus, with the dormant Spartan Stadium looming in the backdrop, a beacon of green light shines down on a group of students, vigilantly standing guard over of Michigan State's treasured symbols—the Sparty Statue. 

In the 1960s, in the week leading up to one of the many installments of the MSU-Michigan rivalry, Sparty was vandalized by Michigan fans who painted it maize and blue.  

In response to the vandalism, without being asked or directed, members of the Spartan Marching Band decided to take action. The following season, they huddled around the statue during the week of the game, daring Michigan students to vandalize it again. 

It proved to effective, and over the next half century, countless MSU marching band members have carried on the tradition.  

Each year, in the week leading up to the matchup?between Michigan and Michigan State, band members maintain round-the-clock surveillance?to protect the statue from any University of Michigan fans seeking to vandalize it. Students and alumni often join the band members in their watch, and it’s been decades since a successful vandalism attempt.  

In 1998, a bold attack on Sparty took place when a group of nearly 40 U of M fans staged a pre-dawn attack, equipped with paint-filled balloons and paint ball rifles. The MSU campus police arrested 14 individuals from Ann Arbor that morning, but Sparty emerged unscathed. 


Author: Alex Gillespie, '17