The Ohio State vs. Michigan game is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. In fact, “The Game,” as it is popularly known as, was ranked by ESPN in 2000 as the greatest American sports rivalry. Thus, it goes without saying that there is a lot of tradition surrounding the Ohio State vs. Michigan game. For instance, one tradition is that, during “Beat Michigan Week,” any signs on campus with the letter “M” are crossed out with red athletic tape. Perhaps the most popular tradition of the week is the Mirror Lake Jump.
The Mirror Lake jump, typically held on the Thursday night of Michigan week, is a tradition in which thousands of Ohio State students show their Buckeye pride by leaping into the freezing-cold lake (which is actually more the size of a pond) from approximately 10pm to 2am. During the past two football seasons, the Michigan game has been played on the Saturday following Thanksgiving break, which has forced the tradition to be moved to Tuesday night when students are still in campus. This was the case again this year, as thousands of students made the trek to Mirror Lake fully clad (and some not so fully clad) in scarlet and gray. Chants of “O-H-I-O” and other Buckeye cheers could be heard all throughout campus and became louder and more frequent as you approached the lake.
Although I had witnessed the Mirror Lake jump two years ago, this was my first time jumping. Given this was my one year as an Ohio State student, I figured this was not only my one chance to jump, but also a rite of passage of becoming a true Buckeye. As a Buckeye fan growing up in Columbus, I had heard about the Mirror Lake jump for years and my opportunity to take the plunge as a student was finally here. The weather was perfect – it was a calm, mid-40 degree night (in previous years, there has been cold rain and even snow). My roommates and I jogged down to Mirror Lake in a pack until we were about 40 yards away from the water. At that point, we had to nudge our way forward through hundreds of bodies surrounding the water. When we finally made it to the edge, we jumped into the freezing-cold water which went up to our waists. The feeling of being in the water was similar to that of being in an ice bath – the numbing sensation made it difficult to feel any part of my legs. As cold as it was, it was difficult to stay in for more than a few minutes at a time, but it was well worth it – because now, I am a true Buckeye.