I grew up watching great high school football in Cleveland: St. Ignatius, St. Edward, Glenville, and even the big Cincinnati schools like St. Xavier and Elder. All these teams were excellent, but I was an Edward’s girl through and through. I love seeing players that I watched in high school play first for top-notch college teams and occasionally the NFL. I knew the kind of talent drinking Lake Erie water can get you. But, when St. Ed’s started to decline after my senior year, I wasn’t surprised. Why? Because I’m an Ohio fan.
Being an Ohio fan means getting used to disappointment. As a Clevelander, I’ve had teams that were this close to making history. The Cavs’ trip to the semifinals last season or the Indians’ bids for the World Series in the mid ‘90s were the most poignant disappointments in my memory. Though I was heartbroken when these teams inevitably lost, I was secretly expecting to be disappointed. Why? Because I’m an Ohio fan — and every year is a rebuilding year for us. There is always a “next year” for the Ohio fan.
This “next year” attitude encourages mediocrity in both the fans and the players. Look at our own Ohio State football team, it seems to me that they only play as well as their opponent. Against the University of Spoiled Children, our Buckeyes truly rose to the occasion, and almost won, too. But against teams like Toledo and Illinois I felt like we held back, even though our starters stayed in for most of the game. The Bucks don’t play every game like it’s the big game; if they did, it would lead us to winning seasons, to national championships and could even elevate Tressel to the hallowed level of Woody Hayes.
Mediocrity is not limited to the Buckeyes, but is an epidemic in the NFL, too. Look at the Browns vs. Bengals game this weekend. Aside from some excellent running by Josh Cribbs and some good interceptions and throws by Cinci, it was a choke-off. It almost ended in a tie for crying out loud — a tie in professional football! Did you know that could happen? I didn’t, and neither did some of the players. If the Bengals’ kicker had missed the field goal, it would have happened. The two pro-football teams in Ohio would have tied each other in yet another demonstration of our state’s mediocrity.
Yes, I’m bashing Ohio teams with all the rage of a scorned lover. That’s the key word, though: lover. I will never stop rooting for my Browns, my Indians, my Cavaliers and most of all my Buckeyes, even when I inevitably leave Ohio. I want them to be amazing, to startle the pundits who talk endlessly about Tim Tebow and Brett Favre (who really aren’t that good. Just saying). I want us to win national championships and Super Bowls. Heck,
I’d just like for us to have good seasons. I’m a true Ohio fan, in good times and bad, but I’d like an end to year after year of bad and a lot more good.