Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are those solely of Dan Kotnik.
As the last moments ticked off the game clock in Arlington, Texas, and I got off the phone after excited yelling at my dad through the phone a “Richard Sherman”-esque speech about beating the odds and what not, I naturally drifted where many do during important moments: social media. It was filled with celebratory messages from fans all across the country, a web of retweets and memes (many of which involved Mark May). But as I scrolled, I would occasionally come across something different. The wording would vary but the phrasing was always about the same:
“Why are you cheering for Ohio State? You never went there”
What a mood-killing, rather salty, comment. A group of men just completed one of the toughest feats in the country and all you want to do is throw some shade at them and their fans.
Before I continue, I would like to make the point I’ve really only ever heard this from the Xichigan fan base, so I guess it makes sense that it comes from one of the most disillusioned and bitter fan bases in the country. Which also adds to the irony, because growing up in Ohio my whole life and trying to spend as little time in That State Up North as I can possibly tolerate, I’d bet most of the Xichigan fans I meet never went there either. Ok I’ve digressed. Back to the main point: coming to the defense of my fellow reveling Buckeye fans.
We live in a world that has changed dramatically, especially in the world of sports and even more specifically the world of college sports. Athletics has become a large part of how a college spends it’s time, effort and money and rightly they should be. College sports have become the best way for colleges to advertise, reach the masses and bring in students. I mean, how many people ever heard of Boise State before the Fiesta Bowl?
But beyond that, with how intertwined schools and their athletic programs have become into their community (business to the community, opportunities to students, fans investing their own money), it makes sense that the teams are seen as representing more than just their schools. I mean they are called the Buckeyes for crying out loud. They, along with so many other schools, are named after their state’s nickname, just like the Hoosiers, Badgers, Sooners, Wolverines, Beavers just to name a few. They stand for the state. College athletics programs no longer represent just their school. It has become too big to have only been supported by a small group of alumni. Small in comparison to the fan base as a whole, that is.
Whether or not you think it’s good that college sports have become this big is a different discussion for a later blog post. Personally, I think it’s great and think the faster we realize this, the faster we can move on, but again…some other time. What I’m saying right now is that you cannot criticize or shame any fan of a college team they did not personally attend. To do so is to completely ignore how large college sports have become; to ignore the impact of these non-alumni fans have had on the program and in turn the impact on the school as a whole.
I went to Bowling Green State University. I grew up in Dayton. Down the line, I may live miles away from the state I grew up in and love. But I will ALWAYS be a Buckeye and cheer for THE Ohio State University.
Bring it home, Bosa.