Karma is Real, and It Hates College and Professional Sports in the State of Ohio

By Johnny Ginter on January 24, 2020 at 10:10 am
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I'm usually a skeptic when it comes to this kind of thing.

Kids These Days are all about their zodiac signs and reading the stars and stuff, which for the entirety of my life I've always considered as a predictive model with an accuracy somewhere between analyzing tea leaves and "guess a number between one and 73."

It's not that I don't have a sense of awe or an appreciation of the unknown, I just don't think that giant balls of gas trillions of miles away or when my parents had an extra glass of wine has any appreciable impact on my life or personality.

Or I didn't, at least until I started paying some damn attention to Ohio sports as of late.

Let me backtrack a little bit. Ohio is cursed. Not news. You know this, I know this; it's a haunted spooky place where popular sports teams kind of amble on aimlessly for generations, with one extremely notable exception. The joke here is that Ohio State sports, particularly football  but sometimes basketball, has been a karmic vampire for decades, sucking all the positive energy out of the likes of the Reds, Bengals, Browns, Indians, and whatever other professional team du jour might briefly grab the attention of the general body politic in the Buckeye state.

How else can you explain the ridiculous run of success that the football team has had? Sensible administrative planning? An institutional expectation of excellence? Some extreme luck in hiring decisions?

makes u think

No, no, and no. It's fate. Andy Geiger hit a witch with his Ford Focus in 2000. Before shuffling off to the Negarealm she cursed Ohio State football and basketball with championships and dominance at the expense of almost every other professional sport. 12 million people are now held hostage by fate, which is super awesome if you're a sports fan that likes college football and super garbage if you happen to be a fan of basically anything else (except for wrestling or lacrosse or whatever).

Sure, there are brief exceptions. LeBron James is an otherworldly force of nature and brought Cleveland a title, but like a comet that emerges once every 700 years and then crashes unceremoniously into Jupiter, that dude ain't coming back this time. The Indians got to a World Series but lost to the Cubs, the ultimate indignity. So even these small moments of time only exist to remind us that everything must regress to an extremely stupid mean.

The Reds, for example, have averaged about 75 wins a season since Jim Tressel was hired, which includes several wasted years of Joey Votto's prime. The Browns have averaged right around five wins per year in that time span, which doesn't seem real but very much is. The Cavaliers dealt with losing LeBron again by hiring, uh... Michigan's head coach, who then called his own players "thugs" (he, hilariously, claims he meant to say "slugs"). They're in second-to-last place in their conference.

In this midst of this is Ohio State. Showered with gold pants and crystal footballs, Ohio State football has been kicking ass for the better part of two straight decades now. Buckeye men's basketball has been mostly very good, so really the only conclusion that I can come to is that the Buckeyes are some kind of good vibes vacuum bent on making life hell for everyone else. It is the only rational explanation given that the entire state of Ohio can't produce other winners in the past two decades when the metropolis of Boston can't stop doing it in multiple sports over and over and over.

It's a little bleak. One can imagine Mr. Red, cursed to wander this Midwestern hellscape forever, his giant baseball head lolling from left to right as he scavenges this dead earth in search of winning streaks. Immortan Brutus Buckeye, rampaging across the wastes in his custom Gigahorse, sucking up what resources he finds.

But this time, there's a new vampire in town, a Max Rockatansky to upset the natural order. And it's the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ohio State football won the Big Ten Championship on December 7th, 2019, beating Wisconsin 34-21 and setting the stage for their entry into the College Football Playoff. That same day, the Ohio State men's basketball team beat Penn State by 32, humiliating the Nittany Lions and solidifying the Buckeyes as one of the best teams in the country. Things were looking extremely great for revenue sports at the Columbus campus.

Then everything went south. Ryan Day and company got screwed in the Fiesta Bowl, and Chris Holtmann's squad suddenly forgot how to shoot basketballs. All told, between basketball and football, Ohio State's most popular sports are 3-8 since that weekend in early December. That's bad, but given what we now know about how the universe balances sports in this state, there had to be a culprit.

On December 7th, the Blue Jackets lost to the Florida Panthers by three goals and dropped their record to 11-14-4. Having lost several of their best players to free agency at the end of the previous season, the team was staring into a deep abyss just a quarter or so into their campaign. That's par for the course for most pro Ohio sports teams, but then the paranormal NOS kicked in and the CBJ started to win, and win a lot.

Despite the additional handicap of every player of any worth being hurt and their starting goalie sidelined for weeks, Columbus has had a record of 16-2-4 since December 7th. With a roster made up primarily of Cleveland Monsters players, the shortest skater in NHL history, and a goalie named Elvis, they are hockey's coolest and hottest squad, and going into the All-Star break they are looking like a potentially dangerous playoff team.

Clearly, none of this can be attributed to naturally occurring competence.

That's just not how it works in this state. Thus, a new pact has clearly been formed. Maybe eye of newt was involved, maybe someone drank jackalope blood from a gourd, or maybe someone inherited an old psychic's powers after saving her from a well. Either way, I wasn't surprised when Chris Holtmann's squad collapsed against Minnesota last night; it was preordained. Destined.

There can be only one. In Highlander, the "one" was a cool dude with a badass sword and unlimited universal knowledge. In Ohio, the "one" is a generally good-ish sports team. Since an extremely specific cursed night in December, that team plays on ice.

You can follow the Columbus Blue Jackets and try to discover what devil's magic allows them to win by checking out the 1st Ohio Battery.

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