As you sat there Monday morning, looking at the layer of snow on the ground in front of you and realizing Easter was behind you, everyone would have understood if your thought process was something along the lines of, “What am I still doing in this state?”
And on your ride to work, as you swerved in between orange cones and potholes deeper and more difficult to navigate than the collected works of Charles Dickens, no one would have blamed you if you actually muttered out loud, “First chance I get, I’m leaving this stupid state.”
Let’s face it, folks, living in the Buckeye state isn’t for the weak of heart. The winters are long (and, at the rate we are going this year, seemingly never-ending), the construction projects are longer and we have the Cleveland Browns. This is the time of year when most of us bemoan our choice to live in the 17th state admitted to the union. And don’t get me wrong, there’s been plenty to complain about, particularly of late.
In the end, though, most of us stick around — and most of us have lived here our entire lives — because there’s no better place on Earth to be. All the bitter cold and knee-deep mud does is make us appreciate all that we have that much more.
For my money, there’s no better place to be if you are a sports fan, particularly a football fan. The 10-plus weeks of high school football we get from late August into November is reason enough in and of itself to put up with our ridiculous winters. Sure, I’d love to be on a beach somewhere warm from December through March (or April, or May or possibly June this year), but for those three months of high school football season, you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to be anywhere else on the planet.
And that’s just football at the high school level. We also have some of the best college programs in the nation. Obviously, there’s Ohio State, but let’s not forget about the abundance of small college powerhouses, most notable Mount Union, as well. There’s something magical about taking in a college football game on a Saturday afternoon.
We also have two professional football teams who play games. The Bengals and Browns really do a nice job of making us all appreciate just how good Ohio State’s program is.
Of course, baseball is also part of the equation. We also have the Cincinnati Reds, who gave those of us who are 40 or older plenty of fond memories. And we do have the Cleveland Indians, who always find new and clever way of breaking their fans’ hearts.
And we have LeBron James and Jack Nicklaus, one of who is arguably the greatest ever to play his sport and one of whom is unquestionably the greatest ever.
And that’s just the sports, folks.
And yes, as we’ve already covered, winter in Ohio is awful. And it’s not like summer is much better either, what with its 100-degree temperatures and 400 percent humidity. I mean, yeah, those two seasons are physically painful to endure. And spring, obviously, no longer exists in Ohio.
Ah, but we still have fall. We have that glorious time of year when the autumnal hues are breathtaking as Mother Nature uses every color on her palette and the temperature in the air is absolutely perfect. It truly is the best three weeks of the year.
For thrill seekers, we have not one, but two of the finest amusement parks in all the land. Sure, they may not be as well-known as Disney World, but they also aren’t quite as price-gougey as the Mouse House.
Of course, other states may make fun of us for plenty of reasons, but we always see who gets the last laugh every four years during the presidential elections. It’s nearly impossible to win an election without winning the great state of Ohio. Which means every four years, people who want to eventually become the leader of the free world are forced to come here and kiss our Buckeye bottoms.
It’s a good feeling to have that kind of power.
But it’s an even better feeling to be an Ohioan.
Ohio really is the heart of it all … and there’s no place else we’d rather be.
Reach David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong