I’ve just moved to Columbus to do the coveted MBA from Fisher and one overriding aspect of the Ohio State University has to be this incredible obsession with the football team! Oh wait, it’s not just OSU, it’s the entire state. It’s as if kids here start their schooling with O-H-I-O instead of the regular A-B-C-D as in the rest of the world. Before landing here, I always wondered what the big deal was of four people standing here and there with their arms up in the air – now I know! It’s the feeling of being a part of one of the best football teams in the USA, and belonging to the state which is home to such a team.
If you shout out an O-H on the streets, and don’t get back an I-O from any random stranger, you’re definitely not in Columbus! I’ve even heard of people getting back an I-O in reply from places as far off as Paris or London!
And in case you’ve not heard about it yet, here’s the news – Michigan is our biggest rival! I’m from India, where cricket is a big game. Nay, a religion. And a cricket match of India vs. Pakistan is so big that people skip going to office just to watch the game live. A country of a billion people just switches off for the duration of the game! Now imagine (India vs. Pakistan) times 10 – that is supposed to be the intensity of the game. Some take a dip in Mirror lake just before the game, as it’s supposed to bring good luck to our team. Of course, if you miss an assignment deadline due to a cold after the game, you won’t be given any consideration.
Another interesting aspect of game day are the tailgate parties that happen all around. The people of Ohio are a merry bunch, and any reason to cheer their team is a good reason to go ‘Cheers’ over a couple of beers. So we party, barbecue, play beer-pong, and have fun from dawn to dusk. Come game time, and the streets become empty and people get together to see the game. There are cops everywhere trying to man the traffic and fans, and parking restrictions come up all across the OSU campus.
If you’re new to the place, then I’d suggest you still go to watch at least one game. It’s crazy out there. It’s a sea of red out there – the T-shirts are red, the caps are red, the seats are red, the flags are red. It’s like watching the world through a pair of red colored contact lenses. And the OSU marching band is awesome to watch – I especially found their rendition of ‘Hang on Sloopy’ very entertaining.
If there’s one place you need to visit just to check out the craziness of football fans, this has got to be it – The Ohio State University.