When El Caballo e-mailed me this topic, I had to make sure he followed through with it. If you remember some of the “extra credit” questions I asked in the previous features, it’s basically something I’ve tried to extract from you all in small doses: to share something about yourself and your experience as a Buckeye fan. El Caballo’s theme accomplishes what I was hoping to accomplish through a series of these features.
Greetings, all – right at the top I want to thank Vico for opening up the blog to us readers from time to time. He often modestly passes this off as saving him work, but I think including reader-generated content (even if it’s just bumping comments up) is one of the things that can elevate a blog from random Intertubes spewings to something that feels more like a community.
This Block O Table is going to go a little bit ‘meta’ – the name I came up with for it is BKABF(an). We spend a lot of time and effort and verbiage talking and arguing and worrying about the Buckeyes of the moment, but precious little talking about our own Buckeyeness. Well, no longer. This Block O is all about us and our lives as fans of The Best Damn Team In The Land.
Question the First: Why are you a Buckeye?
Please don’t just say,”Grew up in Ohio, lifelong fan” – the details are almost never quite that simple and are almost always more interesting…where in Ohio? Did you get it from your folks? Your friends? Did you love another team until you went to OSU? Elaborate, please. Myself, my Dad was a professor here from ’72-’80 and took my brother and me to all kinds of games that included lots of crazy memorable stuff – Archie in the ‘Shoe, Magic Johnson in St. John, Hockey (lots of Hockey) in the sweet old rink, indoor track meets at French Field House, etc. But the fandom didn’t start to get really crazy until my Mom remarried and moved us up to NW OH in ’78 (I was nine then) – my late stepdad was an undergrad and dental school OSU alum, flew a Block O flag most days, and blasted TBDBITL 8-tracks and LPs turned up to 11 starting at 7 AM every football Saturday. His Dad was in TBDBITL. On top of that, the part of Ohio around Toledo is a bit of a battleground between OSU and TSUN – perverse at that might sound; it’s still Ohio, after all – and that seems to have a polarizing effect that intensifies one’s fandom. That sealed the deal. I like to say that I was brought up to be a Buckeye fan and that’s the way I like it! So – what’s your story?
#2: What do you do when you meet a “hater”?
Maybe it’s the fact that I live in Columbus, but I just don’t run into them much anymore – in fact, the last genuine full-of-shit, ESPN.com-comment-section-style hater I ran into was at the bar I went to to watch the MNC Game vs. Da U. I’ve never enjoyed taunting someone (as a direct result of watching a kid on TV get his knee folded in half – is there anything as sweet as schadenfreude?) so much before or since. I have met a few sort-of SEC partisans the last couple years – I find the easiest thing is just to acknowledge the Gator beatdown (what else can you do?), point out that the LSU game wasn’t all THAT bad (see: Beanie’s breakaway; plus Todd Boeckmann was our QB; plus we probably shouldn’t have been in that game anyway – turning it into an anti-BCS thing rather than anti-OSU), smile tightly, and walk away. I’m especially interested to hear answers on this from those of you in the diaspora, given that you’re more likely to run into this stuff than the rest of us (I’d like us all to take a moment here to pray for – or wish for, if praying’s not your bag like it isn’t mine – Vico to someday be delivered from one of the deepest holes there is in SEC country. I’ve been to Alabama, and I’ll just say that I weep for him, to be punished with residency in such a benighted place (ed. *sob*)).
#3: Is it possible to hate Michigan rationally?
For me, at least, the answer is a resounding “yes”. But – given that we’re all a product of our experiences – that may be mostly attributable to the fact that I was a full-grown, fully-engaged OSU fan for the entire Cooper era. It’s easy to not be too triumphalist during this current era of Buckeye dominance when you carry the searing memory of those horrible years with you. The wheel will spin, and not always in ways that favor us. Plus, there’s lots to admire (I think) about the Wolverines – if you’re going to extol Woody, then you have to give props to guys like Bo and Carr: Coaches with character who tried to do it right, who cared about and stood up for their players. If the rivalry is what we think it is – an institution to be respected – then the respective schools/teams are to be respected in turn. It also bears mentioning that the better they do, the more it means when we beat them. All that said, though, I’ve indulged in, and continue to, all kinds of Michigan-induced irrationality – for just one example, I’ve never worn anything yellow and blue, or, for that matter, anything yellow WITH anything blue (including jeans) since I was old enough to pick out my own clothes. So – if you just hate hate HATE those fuckers and wish them nothing but failure and misery, feel free to vent; and if you’re in the camp that wants them to win every game other than THE GAME, tell us why. There are no “wrong” answers here.
#4: This is a two-parter – or a one-parter, depending on your circumstances. Or a hypothetical three-parter, I don’t know…call it open-ended. Anyway: How do you handle significant others/family/friends that AREN’T Buckeye fans? Do you just let them know upfront that there are three or four hours on Fall Saturdays that you’re just not available, or during which the TV has to be yours? Is it a deal-breaker if they don’t go along with that? Following on that, there are always going to be obligations in life that conflict with the Buckeyes – do you feed the Buckeye monkey or bite the bullet? Or are these questions moot in the age of the DVR?
I’ve been lucky in that all of my significant others have been women that either shared or understood the obsession. Most of my extended family is also in the Buckeye Nation, so that has also worked out well – in fact, me and my ex were married on a Sunday following a home football Saturday; it was just about the best way we could be sure that everyone we wanted to be there would be in Columbus. There has actually been only one unavoidable family commitment that caused me to miss watching a Buckeye game – unfortunately, that game turns out to have been the crazy-ass 70-7 (70-7!!! Turns out there were some things to love about Cooper after all) win over Rice/Michael-Wiley-coming-out-party in 1996. That was back in the Dark (read: pre-DVR) Ages, so that burned a little, but other than that my need to see the games live has been pretty much unmolested. Like I said, I’ve been lucky – what about you?
#5: What’s your policy on sporting Buckeye regalia? Do you roll loud and proud outside of Columbus and/or on non-game days?
When I was younger and me and my brother would visit my Dad in D.C. after he moved there, we’d always hit some kind of historical/tourist thing – the Capitol, the National Archives, the Lincoln/Jefferson/Vietnam Memorials, the Smithsonians (over and over), Colonial Williamsburg, Antietam, Gettysburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Chincoteague/Assateague, etc., etc…and I would always, ALWAYS be sure to be sporting Buckeye gear wherever we went. Even now, I often sport at the very least the Woody cap whenever I travel outside of Ohio. This question, of course, gets to the fickle nature of the subject – my group of good buddies had a joke in the mid-to-late ’90′s: “Let’s meet in front of the ‘Shoe – I’ll be the guy in the #45 jersey”. So – what do you wear, and when and where, to tell the world you’re a Buckeye?
Extra Credit: What’s your very favorite piece of Buckeye memorabilia? Or what would you like to have, if you don’t have any?
I have two: A hockey stick signed by the entire ’79-’80 team – Dan Mandich, the Pooleys, Mike Blake, Larry Marson etc…also there’s a football program (which I can’t seem to find at the moment so you’ll have to forgive me not knowing exactly which year/game it’s from) that’s autographed by Mike Tomczak, Tim Spencer and Gary Williams. Also by some reserve offensive lineman named Mike Pahlaniuk (sp?), who was in my Dad’s “Rocks for Jocks” class and got the program(s) signed for me and my brother.
Thanks again to Vico, and to all of you who care to respond-
El Caballo de Sangre
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