I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve grown up rooting for the underdog.
During the college basketball tournament, I automatically root for the underdog, bracket be damned. I’ve taken great joy in watching Michigan fall to Appalachian State, as well as seeing Ohio beat a Paterno-less Penn State squad, despite the outcomes damaging the Big Ten (and by extension, Ohio State). I cheer for the small school. I root for the team that’s due.
My first real sports memory was rooting against Michael Jordan. During his heyday, I would pull whoever was going against Tiger Woods. Some people cheer for greatness, I cheer for the fanbase that hasn’t experienced that Big Win in a long time, if ever. Plus, I get bored watching the same team win year, after year. It’s been pretty much ingrained in me since I’ve began following Cleveland sports. I always side with the underdog.
This makes following Ohio State football a completely different experience.
God hates Cleveland sports.
That’s the joke, right? I’m sure you’ve said it one point. I know I have. A google search for “god hates Cleveland” brings up 52,000 hits, the vast majority being sports related.
Not to anyone under 40 RT @thebsksays In professional football, the name “Browns” means innovation, excellence, and commitment in ALL areas!
— Mike Stein (@GHClevelandSprt) October 16, 2012
As Cleveland fans, we embrace this. We know our sports teams haven’t had the best of luck. We own up to it. Hell, you’re reading this on a site called “Waiting for Next Year”.
It’s gotten to the point that we just laugh whenever someone makes one of those “most tortured sports fans” lists and Cleveland isn’t number one 1 . We scoff at the idea that this even up for debate.
“Oh, you feel Cubs fans are the most tortured? Really? Those people who got to watch Michael Jordan win six titles and Ditka’s Bears win a Superbowl? How cute that you’re upset that your baseball team hasn’t won.”
Teams like the Nationals suffer an epic playoff collapse and one would think that Cleveland fans would empathize. We’ve been in that spot before 2 . We know what that feels like watch your team choke away a game and a series.
Nationals fans are wiping their tears with their 1992 Super Bowl Champion t-shirts. Cleveland pain > D.C. pain.
— Factory Of Sadness (@SadnessFactory) October 13, 2012
We’re more miserable! You think the Sonics leaving Seattle is bad? The Browns left Cleveland and then won a Superbowl almost immediately after! Our pain is bigger than your pain!
Our sports misery is a badge of pride. The Drive. The Shot. The Fumble. Art Modell. Jose Mesa. The Decision. These are ours. We take a perverse sense of pride in owning debacles. These losses toughen us up; we know not to get too excited too soon. We’re always waiting for that second shoe.
But Ohio State is different. Ohio State fans don’t have that Cleveland sports baggage.
While Cleveland fans expect the worst, Buckeye fans expect perfection.
If you turn on the twitter machine 3 during a Buckeye game, you’ll see Buckeye fans complaining. Odds are, the Buckeyes are winning, but they probably aren’t winning by enough. They could probably score a few more TDs against that poor MAC team or the defense had the gall to give up a FG and a touchdown, in one half. How dare they!
Not that Ohio State hasn’t had some bad luck. Losing in back-to-back National Championship games sucked pretty hard. Losing to Texas wasn’t fun and neither was losing to USC.
But in 2002, the Ohio State Buckeyes won a title. I cherish that season. Not only is it the only time that I team I follow has actually won a championship, but they got some breaks along the way. That never happens with Cleveland sports. Plus, my alma mater won a title, while I was attending college. It really doesn’t get much more special than that.
I didn’t watch yesterday’s Ohio State game. I had work obligations. I would check my phone periodically, see my twitter TL having a collective freak out and just kinda assumed that this just wasn’t Ohio State’s day. But I wasn’t really paying attention. Seeing them trail by just eight points late in the game gave me some hope, but not a lot. They’d been in some hairy situations earlier this season and I just kind of assumed that it finally caught up with them.
But no. With less than a minute to play, Ohio State’s second string QB led them a game tying drive and sent the game into overtime. Once I saw that Ohio State made a miraculous comeback to force OT, I knew it was over.
One doesn’t usually get that feeling with Cleveland sports. That confidence in your team that “they got this”. That, while they may have played poorly, they’ve righted the ship, calmed their nerves and will go on to take care of business.
This was one of those wins that make other fans of other schools hate Ohio State. Ohio State is one of the elite programs; they’re college football royalty. Ohio State gets the best players, their fans travel well and, like other big time teams in other sports like say, the Lakers, Yankees or (gulp) Steelers, they win games they have no business winning.
May’s scorn for OSU is as consistent and obvious as Dr. Lou’s unrelenting love for ND RT @mark_may: Questionable calls as usual at OSU
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 20, 2012
It’s a weird experience to watch your team actually pull victory from the jaws of defeat. To see them play like crap for 95% of the game yet see them ahead after the final whistle sounds. I’m not used to it. Usually I’m pulling for the Purdues of the world. The teams without many games on national TV. The small schools. The Clevelands.
But Ohio State is different. They’re a Big Time Program. An evil empire. A team that gets featured on ESPN. Buckeye nation. The Luckeyes.
Not gonna lie, feels pretty nice.
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
- Bill Simmons linked to a Cincinnati Sports Misery compilation in his most recent column and I just laughed [back]
- *waves to Pedro Martinez and Josh Beckett* [back]
- follow me, @BenCox83! [back]