I've almost forgotten over the last few weeks, with all of the rending of garments and cacophonous caterwauls echoing about the halls of college football, that in four more months we'll watch Ohio State engage in an actual sport. The last few months have been a bit like reading A People's History of the United States: riveting, eye-opening, and thoroughly depressing. In a way, however, it's also given me an opportunity to think about what it is that draws me to the sport in the first place
Football is a game played with arms, legs and shoulders but mostly from the neck up.
- Knute Rockne
I have a pretty strong football background, as little as my own personal life reflected that. While I never played football myself, other than an abortive 2-week stint in peewee, I have coaches on both sides of my family, one of which coached a multiple Rose Bowl winning team. Many of my cousins played the sport, and I grew up going to games (including the afformentioned Rose Bowls). Perhaps most importantly, I went to High School in Stark County, where football is religion.
All that said, it wasn't until my Freshman year at Ohio State that I actually gave a damn.
My senior year of High School was the year we won the championship. I was a fan, sure, but I was rooting for the team everyone else was. Ohio State wasn't my team. But, I only applied to one school that winter, and once I was accepted to Ohio State I started a crash course in everything Buckeye related.
The first thing that drew me to football was the paegentry. I was in the marching band in high school, and while the football games were nice, I only really cared about the groupies and cocaine parties that go with being a trumpet player in high school. Football games at Ohio State were an entirely different animal. The roar of the crowd overwhelms you. The euphoric walk from dorm or apartment to the stadium, people tossing bean bags, beer in hand, tension and anticipation rising with every step, is an experience everyone should have at least once.
And the truth is, I revel in the vitriol. Not the thrown beers, spittle-flecked curses, or poisened trees, but the sheer joy in watching my team win after weeks of shit-talking. As awful as it would be to see wins vacated, scholarships lost, or any other penalties, nothing can take away the sheer exultation I felt after Solomon Thomas picked off Ryan Mallett to ice the game. College Football is war. It's rooting for your side to dismantle the other side, piece by piece, and wave it in their fans' faces the next day at the office. It's letting your inner animal take over for 2 hours a week, 13 weeks out of the year. I can't wait.
If those sonsabitches want to fight the Civil War all over again, we'll certainly do it.
You're damn right Mr. Hayes.