I recently took my 5-year-old, Liam, to his first Ohio State basketball game. I didn't know how much he'd care, but Liam was out-of-his-gourd excited.
My wife and I met at the University of Richmond in Virginia - she is a native of Delaware, Ohio, and I am a Texas ex-pat who had called Philadelphia home since the age of 9. We shared a love of many things, but college sports was not one of them. Sure, we supported our Richmond Spiders when it was convenient (i.e., the years when the men's basketball team sneaked into the NCAA Tournament). But it wasn't something we talked about or participated in regularly.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I called my then-girlfriend during our winter break in 2003 and found her screaming about a college football game. She yelped something unintelligible, then hung up.
I was furious. After all, this was the girl who'd never once discussed football with me unless it related to our tailgate plans. In retrospect, though, it makes perfect sense. This was Jan. 3, 2003: The day Ohio State beat the Miami Hurricanes in the National Championship. Kate had just witnessed a double-overtime Buckeye win. I don't have to tell you, dear Columbus reader, that this was a big deal.
We graduated in '04, got married and moved as a couple to Columbus, where I have increasingly, year by year, fallen more in love with all things Ohio - including the Buckeyes. Some transplants are confused or even repulsed by the level of Ohio State fandom in our capital city, but I find it contagious. You won't find me slathering scarlet and gray paint on my face, but on game days I'll happily and proudly wear an Ohio State T-shirt.
I recently took my 5-year-old, Liam, to his first Ohio State basketball game. I didn't know how much he'd care, but Liam was out-of-his-gourd excited. He fanatically waved a Buckeyes pennant he'd made at pre-K, scoured the stands for Brutus and generally loved every minute of the game against UNC Asheville (aka "the blue team we don't like"). A kind man in a nearby seat even gave him a mini foam basketball. Liam didn't want the game (or the popcorn) to end. He talked about it for weeks.
Even before that game, whenever Liam or his sister Maggie see football or basketball teams on TV, they'll ask who the Buckeyes are playing - the assumption being that if Daddy is watching sports, he must be watching the Buckeyes. Usually they're right.
It still periodically astounds me that I live in Columbus, Ohio, much less that my kids were born and are being raised here. But I've come to embrace my Ohio pride, and I'm more than happy to instill it in my kids, too. I'm certain that someday they'll get to watch the Buckeyes win a National Championship and be as excited as Kate was back in 2003. Hopefully it'll happen before they're old enough to have significant others to hang up on.
-Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer, often running his mouth about music in The Other Paper and other pubs. His two kids refer to Bob Evans as Bob Dylan's and still don't know the purple dinosaur's name.