What's The Matter With Cincinnati?
Why is there a perceived lack of love for OSU in the Cincinnati area? The Buckeyes don't seem to get the coverage in Cincy that they do elsewhere in the state. In his latest opinion column, Ramzy gives some thoughts as to why that may be the case.
Southwest Ohio is aesthetically beautiful, with its rolling hills, riverfront area and mountains of shredded cheese upon the greatest culinary contribution in our illustrious state’s history. Like all metropolitan areas, the Nati has its warts – apparently, six inches of snow falling out of the sky, while customary, is accepted as a cataclysmic, earth-shattering outlier event, shutting down the entire local economy, all roads and most schools in the greater Cincinnati area.
Throughout the rest of the state, Cincinnati is notoriously reputed to be anti-Ohio State, and closer in heritage and similarities to our tobacco-chewing horse-loving neighbors to the south. The legions of Buckeye fans, contrary to popular belief, are actually quite thick down here. Sure there are rabid Xavier and UC fans, and understandably so. The Notre Dame subway alumni epidemic took hold and rooted here long ago, as innocent Catholics were somehow convinced it was their moral obligation to support the Fighting Irish, which as we all know only recruits and accepts practicing Catholics for its football team. There are noticeable pockets of resentment and unrestrained loathing for all things Ohio State, but you’ll even run into people like that in Columbus.
Then why is it that the Queen City has such a rotten reputation for supporting the Buckeyes? You only really need one finger to point at the culprit – the media – but we’ll give the primary perpetrator a special separate finger of recognition:
Enemy of the State: Cincinnati Enquirer
All perceptions begin and end with the media, and the flagship paper of Porkopolis would love for you to believe that there is no market and only passing interest in Ohio State sports, especially football. Understandably, during the football season the Bengals take the top spot in the sports section on Sundays, but who else has gotten higher billing recently than the Buckeyes, who were the top ranked team throughout the past season? One week it was a puff piece on some water polo team (seriously). Another week, a redundant discussion of high school football in a veritable repeat of the Saturday paper. The attention to detail is lacking as well – Doug Datish received credit for a sack in photo that was shockingly used in covering the opening game against NIU. The very same Doug Datish who does not play on the defensive side of the ball, ever, and who has never resembled anyone of African-American heritage. Sure, he wore #50 just like Vernon Gholston – who happens to match that description far better than Datish, but who has time to glance at the box score or a roster?
This past December when the bowl game matchups were announced, there was a special feature on former local area football players who would be playing, for what team and in which game throughout the bowl season. The high school football in SW Ohio is excellent, and as expected the list of area players was impressive. It did not include any players from Ohio State’s roster, not because there weren’t any on the team – there are actually several, but just because, apparently, the Enquirer decided not to include Ohio State in its list of teams playing in bowl games. The absence of Ohio State players on the list – especially as they were playing in the biggest bowl game of all – was glaring, if not pathetic.
Enemy of the State: All of the rest of the Cincinnati media
This past basketball season, Ohio State was hosting Purdue in a game that would give the Buckeyes the unshared Big Ten championship. If you had regular Time Warner cable, the game was nowhere to be found. However, you could watch the Kentucky/Tennessee game at the same time…on three different channels. Cincinnati is equidistant to both Lexington and Columbus. Columbus, if you’re not currently in front of a math, is the one in Ohio. Of course there are both UK and Ohio State fans living down here. Of course both of their games should rank behind UC and Xavier’s in terms of local importance. However, there is no reason for any game to ever be on in triplicate. That happens enough with presidential speeches and breaking "news" alerts of missing blonde teenagers in Cancun. When it comes to the priority placed on covering the teams from Ohio’s flagship university, the media likes to move the border of the state from the river a couple dozen miles north to I-275, not only when it comes to covering the news but also when it comes to actually showing the game.
Local news is barely watchable anywhere in America, but you’d think at least get some peripheral bandwagon coverage for Ohio State, with top five teams in football and basketball over the past year. Yeah, forget about it. Is it just residual childish bitterness toward Thad Matta leaving Xavier for Ohio State (which in Cincinnati, was seen by many as an incomprehensibly poor career move) or perhaps is the perception that nobody cares really true? Just based on my unscientific sampling – bars, proprietors of chicken wings, flags in front of houses, conversations with startled strangers at stoplights – the people are somewhat interested. There is a market for this information in Greater Cincinnati. And for competent snow removal – and the people would benefit from both.
The misconception that Cincinnati is not supportive of Ohio State sports can be fixed, and it wouldn’t even require a dramatic culture change or gradual shift in mindset across the area. It would only necessitate a couple of warm bodies with rank in the media to first recognize that Ohio State football and basketball are not a distant rumor, and then act on it. In Columbus, the Browns and Bengals get equal billing. A nice start for the Enquirer might be to give the Buckeyes similar coverage during the football season to, for example, an arbitrary water polo team. You never know, they might sell more papers.