Coming to grips: While We’re Waiting


Happy Tuesday Wednesday, WFNY!

Well, mostly happy, anyway. I was admittedly pretty excited to write this week’s While We’re Waiting. It was going to be all about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry and how the 2016 edition of The Game was the best of my lifetime, topping the 2006 #1 vs #2 matchup.

Then, Monday happened. As inaccurate details and false reports came flying out of The Ohio State University campus Monday morning, I was initially hit pretty hard by it all. It was so disheartening to “know” that just three miles north of me, there was an active shooting happening. On my campus. In my city. I was angry, sad, frustrated. All of the emotions at once.

Thankfully, all those initial reports were pretty much false. There was no shooter. Which isn’t to downplay what happened, of course. It’s still frightening to know that the same place I attended and where I grew into the person that I am today, a senseless act of cowardice was carried out as a lunatic drove his car into a crowd of students and attacked them with a knife. For the victims of this attack and those who witnessed it, it had to be a horrific and life-changing event. And that sucks.

I was an Ohio State student when the 9/11 attacks happened. School wasn’t in session for us yet (OSU was on the quarters system instead of semesters back then), but I was living near campus in my apartment that summer and I remember the eery silence that fell over the whole area that day. I remember going to my first OSU game after the attacks and keeping one eye on the field with the other on the sky, always looking out for planes. It took a while for life to return to normal.

In no way am I comparing what happened at Ohio State to the awful events of 9/11, but instead I’m illustrating how things that happen so far away can have such a profound effect. I can’t imagine what it was like for citizens of New York. The events of 9/11 made life at OSU uneasy for a while, and now the Ohio State attack will definitely cast a cloud over campus life for quite some time.

For the city of Columbus, it is a frustrating time. This is actually the second knife attack carried out by a Somali immigrant this year. Back in February, a Somali man attacked customers at a Columbus restaurant with a machete, wounding four before police shot and killed the suspect. This is frustrating because Columbus has a great legacy of supporting Somali refugees and immigrants, and now the thoughtless actions of a few is probably going to jeopardize that relationship.

I cannot imagine how frustrating this has to be for all the peaceful, productive members of the Somali community in central Ohio. Not just frustrating, but also scary. I’d like to believe that the overwhelming majority of Ohio citizens would not judge the whole of the 45,000+ Somalis living in Ohio based on the actions of two, but you just never know. As Hassan Omar, President of the Somali Community Association in Ohio said after the Ohio State attacks:

“This is a shock. As a Somali community here, we are in a state of shock. In Columbus, we live in a very peaceful community. This is going to affect the life of everybody. We are American and we don’t want somebody to create this problem.”

One of my favorite things about Columbus is the diversity. I grew up in a very small, rural town. And I loved growing up there and I still enjoy going back to my hometown. But when I got to Ohio State, I was exposed to an entire world I had never experienced before. I talked to people of all kinds of cultures, beliefs, and customs. I gained a better understanding of the world at large and I came to better understand the ways in which the things I see as “different” are the “normal” for others. Because of Ohio State’s massive student population, the city of Columbus is home to people from all over the world. There are pockets of every nationality, religion, and identity in central Ohio.

I know, I’m rambling. I spoke last week in my While We’re Waiting about being thankful and the power of positive thinking. I’m so thankful that the attack wasn’t more serious and that there were no fatalities other than the perpetrator. I’m hopeful that the city of Columbus will move on and that there will not be lingering effects on the Somali community in Ohio.

It can be overwhelming to fixate on all of the senseless acts of violence in our country, particularly when it seems like every week there’s a new attack being reported on the news. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose not to live in fear. We can acknowledge that these incidents suck, and that it’s really frustrating and sad that they keep happening. We can search for answers and solutions and methods of preventing. But we don’t have to let all of this bring us down. We can choose to show resiliency and keep living our lives.

That’s what we do here at WFNY. We talk about sports, a distraction from all of the harshness of reality. So with that in mind, let us talk a little bit about Ohio State and Michigan.

This year’s battle between two of the fiercest rivals in all of sports lived up to the hype and then some. As far as I’m concerned, that was the second best Ohio State game of my life, behind only the double overtime win over Miami in 2003 to win the National Championship. It wasn’t the best played game. I’ve certainly seen plenty of games in which Ohio State performed better against top-tier opponents. But in terms of pageantry and excitement, that one was hard to top.

For many of us, the 2006 battle of #1 Ohio State vs #2 Michigan has been the peak of the mountain in this rivalry. The gold standard of what The Game should be. But I think this year’s game was better. The 2006 matchup was an odd one. The two offenses went at each other in a high-scoring affair atypical of your traditional OSU-UM matchup. This year’s game was a throwback, two defenses doing whatever they could to turn the tide of the game.

I know, it’s easy for me as a fan of the winning team to wax so poetic about this game. If I were a Michigan fan (excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a bit), I would be sick about the way this one played out. I would be beside myself with anger over the fourth-down call. And I don’t say that because I think the call was wrong. Frankly, I think the call would have stuck either way upon review. Had they ruled JT Barrett short of the first down on the field, I think it would have been upheld on video review. Because there’s just no angle that definitively shows either way1. It was just up to the officials on the field to make an impossible call.

While that call may be what is most remembered about that game, what I will remember most is the way Ohio State battled back to win a game that, through three quarters, they had no business winning. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame, but Ohio State deserves credit for making all the critical plays in the fourth quarter and two overtimes. And now Ohio State sits at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff standings and will likely be in the playoff for another shot at a National Championship.

Maybe Ohio State won’t get in, though. Who knows. Either way, no matter what happens for the rest of the season for Ohio State, everything will be perfectly copasetic for the Buckeyes because for the next 360ish days Ohio State can hold their head high knowing they beat Michigan once again. Everything in its right place.

  1. Yes, I’ve seen the grainy, blown up image being passed around on social media. Objectively, I just don’t think it really shows a definitive answer. []