Growing up I played sports because they were fun. They kept me busy during all seasons of the year and for a kid who loved activity but not so much working out, they were a way for me to not be a 200lb by the time I was 12. A funny thing happened along the way during my playing days as a youth and on through high school, sports taught me a lot of life lessons. Lesson’s of teamwork, integrity and honesty just to name a few, born from the discipline and hard work it takes to be successful in sports. But the one thing that sports taught me more than anything and something that I am thankful for to this day is how to handle adversity. I don’t think this will be a galloping shock to anyone reading this but I wasn’t a great athlete. I loved sports, and was just good enough to be a part of the game, but I wasn’t setting any records. Because of that I like many others faced my fair share of adversity. Whether it was loses, being cut from a team or not getting the playing time I thought I deserved, I had learned to take them all as challenges and find ways for those times to help me grow. It’s a lesson that I’m proud to say I’ve been able to take with me to other facets of my life, when times get tough I have the skills and experiences to pull from to help me get through.
Why is this relevant to the 2011 Buckeyes and our fans? It has become painfully clear over the last few weeks that a few players and fans missed that lesson while growing up.
At this point we all know what we’ve seen from the Buckeyes this year. Off the field issues never ending, questionable play from just about every position on the field, and coaching decisions that are beyond baffling. But what has gotten under my skin more than anything else is that if anyone dares questions the Buckeyes, the players or shows any disgust during games such as booing that somehow means that person or those people are not “true” Buckeye fans. Players and fans alike have tweeted as much and I’ve been in discussions as such.
Now before I go any further it is important for me to point out that I have never gone to a sporting event and booed my own team. It just hasn’t happened.
What is mind boggling to me is the response that fans and players alike are having to this. While I personally don’t subscribe to the idea of booing the reaction of “real fans don’t do that” or “we play better with cheers” is about on par with the thought process of participation trophies. Excuse me, but you want to be patted on the back and told everything is great when the production on the field and the behavior off the field has been nothing short of gross? No that’s not what sports are about. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose and when it’s the later you take the bad that comes with it and learn how to deal, if you can’t figure that part out then you end up like Ryan Leaf. Michael Jordan didn’t get a token seat on the bench with his JV team; he got cut and was told he wasn’t good enough. Did he pout and ask to be treated nice? No, he took that fuel, got his ass in the gym and didn’t come out until he was the best.
We as fans owe athletes NOTHING, our cheers and our emotions moment to moment are not guaranteed. We give our devotion to our favorite teams in blind faith on a regular basis and what we ask in return is for that faith not to be in vein. When that devotion is met with pathetic performance and with the exception of Carlos Hyde, what appears to be a general lack of urgency by players and coaches it can push a fan base to get angry.
Instead of waiting for cheers from the 100,000+ in Ohio Stadium maybe the players and coaches need to take the fact that there are audible boos coming from the stands as a sign that they aren’t doing their jobs correctly and be happy that there are people still watching that actually care. They need to take this adversity and turn it into the fuel that can make the great, or hell we’d settle for above average at this point. The game plans have been awful, the execution on the offensive line has been embarrassing, the fact that our talented young WR’s haven’t been taught how to get off the line and find separation is a joke, the inability to properly prepare at least one of four viable college quarterbacks is a travesty and the fact that more off the field transgressions keep being revealed is cause for some more jobs to be lost (looking at you Mr. Smith and Dr. Gee).
I’m a graduate of The Ohio State University, a lifelong fan and someone that will continue to be long after this group of players leave. I wore my scarlet colored glasses and remained optimistic throughout the offseason and at the beginning of the year that our traditions were in good hands with a former player and that we still had the raw talent to compete. They’re off now and what I see is my school and my program being turned into a punch line. I don’t like it, and I don’t know how anyone else possibly could. I’ll keep putting my OSU jersey on each Saturday, watching every second and living and dying with each play because no matter what I’ll always care and always be a fan. But if it doesn’t get any better the players may get what they want, no boos in the stands, in fact they may hear nothing at all.
I already know plenty of hate is coming my way for this one, so let me here it @hewls