Confessions of a Non Buckeye Football Fan
I am one of the 1%, not that 1% the other 1%. I am among the people who don’t wear scarlet and gray throughout the fall and who don’t reply IO to the OH. I’m not the guy who daydreams about the perfect personalized fan plate. For years, I have been unable to answer the question – who are the Buckeyes playing this Saturday. I’ll use a conversation about the weather to throw you off track when I’m clueless about the stats for the season. Yes, I am that guy.
In this city one can be allowed to have a disinterest in professional football, even all sports for that matter. The good-natured folks of the 614 area code, with their Midwestern manners, will allow that aberration to exist as strange of a concept as it may sound. In their eyes, football apathy is like being a vegetarian, kind of cute but silly. However, there is one cardinal rule within 270. You MUST love the BUCKS. How could you not? How dare you not!
I’m not a hater, I don’t hate the game. I played football as a kid and wanted to have Archie Griffin’s number on my Jersey. Digging into my childhood photos there are plenty of images of a young lad, who still had hair, wearing an Ohio State Buckeyes jersey. My lifetime membership to the OSU Alumni Association is buried in my filing cabinet. I even tossed the football around in the stadium back when you could sneak in at night. Somehow, in spite of my upbringing Buckeye Football Fever never stuck with me. I’m not sure when I was inoculated but I’m more than happy to skip the game every Saturday.
I suppose I first noticed this when I stopped signing up for my alumni tickets. A few years after, I even stopped making an effort to watch the OSU Michigan game. That is the moment when I could no longer hide my nature. It was evident for all to see. I was no longer a Buckeye….not even trying.
I believe those like me, maybe forty or fifty in all, are an oddity to the rest of you. We share notes about the phenomenon of the Buckeye cult. It is odd to be on the outside looking in. We wonder about all of you and your zeal. We occasionally hit a tailgate or two to try to mix in with the crowd. However, while we curse the congestion of game day traffic our secret is that we love Columbus between the first kick off and the final whistle.
While the 99% are out worshipping the cult of Brutus we are enjoying an abandoned city. By timing your excursions just right the city is pretty amazing on a game day. I will highlight a few of the perks of being footloose and football free. The first thing you notice is driving is fun. The streets are abandoned; everyone is in the shoe, a sports bar or entrenched in their man cave watching the game. Parking is easy to find. No waiting at the gas pump. Life behind the wheel is good again.
Game day is a fine day for shopping. The aisles are empty. There is no waiting in the checkout line. All of the employees stuck working are excited to see you. You will be greeted with a GO Bucks and promptly asked for the score. At this point I punt and say “I’m not sure… my radio is on the fritz”. Saddened, they are still glad to see me and very helpful because they are very bored. All my shopping needs can be accomplished in one half of the time. Even during away games, if you do encounter any other customer, it is only as they grab and go at half time to restock on a few critical supplies so their disruption to my optimal experience is minimal.
However, the best perk of the day, is being able to go to any of my favorite restaurants (with one television or less) without the need for a reservation and enjoy any table I choose with the most attentive of wait staff. The restaurant business is a gut-wrenching on fall gridiron Saturdays. If the home team triumphs the restaurant can do well after the win is marked in the books. If the Bucks lose, well, there is no joy in Columbus and no patrons to be fed. So during those precious hours before the fate of the shift and opportunity for tips are determined your server is focused and aimed to please their only customer.
So all in all, despite being an outsider, membership in my small exclusive club does have privileges and the benefits outweigh the costs of being a football pariah. Go Bucks!