Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Am Such a Dork!

I was unable to watch any of today's Ohio State-Memphis Elite Eight tournament game. But on my way home from our Saturday worship, I heard the final minutes, which my beloved Buckeyes won 92 to 76, I heard OSU's play-by-play announcer Paul Kiels say, "Watch out, Atlanta. The Buckeyes are on their way!"

To prove what a dork I am, those words brought tears to my eyes.

I was born and raised in Columbus. During my growing-up years, contrary to form, Ohio State basketball was more important to me than Ohio State football. I loved Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Jim Bowman, and all the other great players from the early-60s who vied for national championships and won one back then. I've had the fever ever since.

OSU basketball has always been a bond between my father and me, too. In fact, just a few moments ago, the first person I called to celebrate Ohio State's entry into the Final Four was dad.

Readers here know how strong my ties to The Ohio State University are. I talk about the university all the time!

Ohio State was the only college to which I applied. It was unthinkable to me to attend any other institution. And I loved my time there! One of my early instructors, Lance Schreffler, teaching the port-of-entry class offered to all incoming freshman, UVC100, urged us to "do the university," finding ways to use the extraordinary resources of the world's largest campus--today there are more than 51,800-students on the Columbus site--to grow intellectually, socially, and in other ways. My grades were so-so. But my hours in the William Oxley Thompson stacks, involvement with the Off-Campus Students' Association, and lengthy conversations with faculty members who gave so generously of their time--people like Stan Swart, Jim Kweder, and Don Van Meter, among others--gave me a first-class education! (Stan and his wife, Jan, attended my wedding and reception.)

My wife also graduated from OSU and our son was born there. Most of my closest friends graduated from State, too.

When our son, Philip, now twenty-five, was growing up, I took a week of vacation in order to take him to OSU Basketball Camp every year. We relished our time on campus and time spent in my favorite city on the planet, Columbus.

I'm so happy to be involved these days in my county OSU Alumni Association, a group of people who not only want football tickets, but also want to serve our community and to provide area young people with the same benefit we enjoy, an Ohio State education!

All of these things probably combined to create my dorky--and I must add in my defense, momentary--response to the announcement that the Buckeyes will be going to the Final Four, the first time since 1999.

Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA fans, among others, may regard it as an entitlement for their teams to make it into the Final Four. But as an OSU fan, in spite of having had many fine teams to cheer in the past four-plus decades, I can't see things that way. I see it as a special privilege...and a special privilege too, to have such a fine team and a fine coach to represent me and the rest of Buckeye Nation!

Go, Buckeyes!

1 comment:

Deborah White said...

UCLA fans never regard the Final Four as an entitlement. Many people unfairly regard UCLA as Goliath... The Bruins work hard and earn the honor of a Final Four berth.

Mark, you're not a dork. I teared up when UCLA won today. In fact, we had a living room full of family cheering for the Bruins.