Growing up, we did not watch much sports in our house. My father had interest in pro football, but my mother was kind of overbearing, and when she walked into the living room and football was on the television, she would throw what some would consider an adult temper tantrum. “Guess I have to be by myself today! Guess I will go clean something or read a book.” She would puff away on her cigarette with a childlike annoyance on her face.
My father, the placater, would never hold his ground. She would always get her way. “Barbie, I can change the channel. What do you want to watch?”
The only times I really watched sports were at holiday gatherings when we were with family, and to be honest, it was not enough to make a little girl over the moon for football or any team in particular. My interest began to peak once my brother went to college. He went to Miami of Ohio, a D1 school. I did not suddenly wake from a fifteen year slumber and eat, sleep, and breathe Miami football. Hell, Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, and I do not even think he feels this way. No, my affection for football grew for the pro teams. I started to pay attention because I found a lucrative way to enhance my bank account. My brother got a bookie. He taught me how to read lines, and I started to pay attention to teams like the 49ers, the Giants, and the Bears. I could throw around names like Joe Montana, Walter Payton, and the Refrigerator Perry and have complete understanding of the contributions these men were making to their teams.
As some of you know, I was lost and attended four undergraduate colleges over the course of seven years. It is difficult to love a school or love a team as a transient. I spent my late teens and early twenties pretty much oblivious to college sports. However, in 1993 the movie Rudy was released, and watching it awoke something in my soul. I associated with this boy who had been knocked down, but maintained a passion for accomplishing his goal. I watched the crowd scenes in the stadium, and I knew right then and there, I wanted to be apart of something so pure and magical. Hollywood glorified for me what pro sports can never be– a place where dreams come true solely because the players love the game, not because of their contracts and million dollar endorsement deals. Something new had stirred in my cortex. I have to imagine this feeling is what it is like when someone suddenly finds Jesus. I felt alive!
As a Ohioan, I could have rooted for Notre Dame in honor of Rudy Ruettiger. However, I am nothing if not an observer, and what I suddenly awoke to was scarlet and grey. Everywhere I looked, people were wearing it. I stirred to find myself nestled deep in the heart of Buckeye land, and when I bought my very first college sweatshirt, I felt like I found my home. Names that had wafted pass me were suddenly names I knew and recognized: John Cooper, Eddy George, Orlando Pace. I had found my place.
I have been awake since 5:45 this morning: today is Ohio State/Michigan Day. All year, we fans anticipate blowing the roof off of the Wolverines so we can continue to feel superior to the team up North. It gets a little feisty, here in our neck of the woods. Michigan back talk has been flying for weeks. And even though we cannot compete for the National championship this year, we stand behind Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller, and the entire Ohio State squad because these boys play each game with heart, knowing that in the end, they will not and cannot earn the ultimate goal.
Yes, we here in Ohio love our Buckeyes. We love them until the ends of the earth! I have friends in Vietnam, Cameroon, and Mumbai who will proudly wear their scarlet and grey today. You know why? Because it is 7:33 am, and Michigan still sucks!
Drive! Drive on down the field;
Men of the scarlet and gray;
Don’t let them thru that line,
We’ve got to win this game today,
Come on, Ohio!
Smash thru to victory,
We’ll cheer you as you go;
Our honor defend
So we’ll fight to the end