Excitement bathed us just as profoundly as moonlight. Despite the crisp chill in the air, by the fourth quarter, no one felt anything but anxiety and anticipation. Would we pull this one off? Would we actually maintain our lead? Would this difficult season produce a win over a team like Wisconsin?
With a minute and 30 seconds left in the game, Wisconsin scored, deflating just a little bit of the buzz. Then OSU returned a kickoff to field goal range. Despite the fact we had 1:30 left, we could kick a field goal to tie it. But we went for it all, a hail mary to the endzone, leaving only 20 ticks remaining on the clock. The stadium exploded; jumping, high-fiving, blistering enthusiasm burned through the cold as the entire student body--and a few adults forgetting their age--bled onto the field. Streams of scarlet filled 100 yards worth of grass, joining the band and the team as they sang the alma mater.
Equally as energized, I jumped and cheered with the best of them, but my husband and I observed the mayhem from our seats, watching the crowd spill onto the field, listening to "Carmen Ohio" as it faded into the night. As I snapped photos, I reflected upon the phenomenon of large groups of people tuned into a bloody battle. Easily the most exciting ending I've ever witnessed live in the 'Shoe, I couldn't help but transport myself back to the Colosseo, imagining the roar and the adrenaline-rush they must have felt when one of their warriors successfully battled a lion or a tiger or some other monstrosity who should have destroyed them.
Then I retreated back to just a few moments before glory descended on Ohio Stadium. We all watched an injured player sprawled out on the field right in front of us; he grabbed his knee and appeared to be in tremendous anguish. Trainers tended to him, while grown men behind and in front of me chanted "baby," "get up," and several other comments I shall choose to censor from my post.
I have no idea who the Wisconsin player was or how serious his injury happened to be, but I don't believe it matters. He was hurt, and given the intensity of the game, I'm quite certain he would not be rolling on the field unless something significant plagued him. Those guys are tough; they endure levels of pain most people could not manage, and yet they roll, they rise and they persevere play after play.
Fans, on the other hand, sit, adorned in layers of comfortable clothing (some are also adorned in layers of liquid warmth), and they act like the toughest men who have graced the earth. They often forget they are taunting kids. It seems reasonable to cheer for your team when they succeed--or even to rejoice when the other team fails--but no reasonable person should berate a kid who has been injured. They aren't professional warriors battling tigers and lions during the height of the Roman Empire; some of them are 18 years old. They are just kids, kids learning and growing and trying their very best to figure out who they are.
And so, negative fans, here is my message to you: just because you sport a pseudo jersey, and spend ridiculous amounts of money on tickets, you are not entitled to be a jerk. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who's face is marred by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph, and who at the worst, if he fails by daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Root for the kids, but realize you are a mere observer. The game belongs to them.