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Whether you’re signing on the dotted line of your Letter of Intent, or, as it is less glamorously referred to, if you are a “normal” student, not a student-athlete; submitting your nonrefundable deposit reserving your spot in the year’s freshmen class. It means the same thing either way. It means that you are committing to be a member of Ohio University and #BobcatNation for the next four….or five…or even six years as a student, and as an alumnus every year thereafter. Before doing so, there are a few things you should know. Most importantly, you should know that we are Bobcats, not Buckeyes. No matter how many times you say, “I go to Ohio University in Athens,” your family and friends will inevitably believe that what you are saying is that, “I go to Ohio State in Columbus.” This is a common misconception that sadly every Bobcat can relate to. Although both are public institutions just over 70 miles apart, a drive of less than two hours, the schools could not be more different in terms of culture, specifically sports culture. Case and point, Ohio University has strong athletic programs, but if you are looking for a Division I school where the entire student body spends the weekends at the athletic fields singing our fight song, “Stand Up And Cheer,” regrettably that is not something you will find at Ohio University. If a “sports school” is what you desire, Ohio University is not the school for you. Here’s 7 reasons why:
1 The marching band (The Marching 110) is more popular than the sports teams.
If you journey to Peden Stadium to watch Ohio football, you will probably see a fairly hardy crowd around 20,000 strong. Unfortunately though, that crowd that was once 20,000 strong will likely dwindle to a crowd of less than 10,000 after the Marching 110 has completed their halftime performance no matter how close the game may be. The reality is, sad as it may be; people come to see the famous Marching 110, not the football team, a tradition that has been in place for decades.
2 Free merchandise and free food giveaways can dictate student support of athletics.
Just as fans tend to only come out to sporting events to watch the band, fans, students in particular have a tendency to venture to Penden, the Convo and Bob Wren only with hopes of getting free gear or free food. After the giveaways, crowds usually shrink.
3 Students would rather buy beer than a hockey ticket.
For all varsity sports student admission is free with a student ID. Club sports on the other hand require a $5 student fee because they are club sports and thus not university sponsored. Ohio hockey is a powerhouse program with four ACHA Men’s Division 1 National Championships over the last 20 seasons. When you have more than 25 home contests a season at $5 a person, it doesn’t matter how good the squad is, students are not willing to spend upwards of $125 to go to every hockey game when that same $125 can be used to cover weeks’ worth of bar tabs. Students would rather spend money on beer than sports tickets, plain and simple, it gives them more “bang for their buck.”
4 You need sports jerseys……but for parties, not sporting events on campus.
At Ohio University, the highlight of spring semester for most students is fest season. The coming of fest season means that for about a month, from mid-March- mid-April, there will be various street fests each weekend around town. At these fests you can expect two things. 1) Drunken debauchery and 2) A plethora of sports jerseys. The irony rests in the fact that all OU students act like huge sports fans when it is fest season, yet they won’t support the Bobcats at sporting events on campus.
5 Student-athletes are relatively unknown on campus.
At bigger Division 1 schools high profile student-athletes like a Johnny Manziel or a Cam Newton find themselves on Sports Center on a weekly basis and carry the status of a celebrity on their college campus. Other students routinely ask these future professional athletes for pictures and autographs alike. At Ohio, we don’t have that problem. Our student-athletes are not fawned over by the rest of the student body. In fact some of Ohio’s best athletes go unnoticed as they walk up and down Court Street. Even 6’10, 260-pound forward Antonio Campbell, who was recently voted MAC Player-of-the Year, went unnoted by my two roommates as we passed him on the street walking to class earlier in the semester. How two self-proclaimed and knowledgeable sports fans did not recognize a 6’10 basketball star complete with a signature mustache as he passed them on the street, I do not know, but at Ohio, where sports aren’t a big deal…..it happens.
6 At Ohio, you are at the mercy of #MACtion.
Being an avid fan of the Mid-American Conference means two things. 1) Be prepared for the unpredictable. Where the best team in the MAC can either kill or be killed by the worst team in the MAC any given week in any sport. 2) Be prepared for inconvenient game times. As a member of the MAC teams are forced to play at times that are less than great for fans and athletes alike. MAC schedules are riddled with mid-week night games late in the season when the temperatures are blustery, balmy and bitter cold. Why? Because that is the only time ESPN will put a mid-major school like Ohio on national television. What can be done about this? Absolutely nothing. What is typically done though is that students do not attend the games. For some the weather scares them away, for others it is class and homework that prevents them from attending the event. Any way you look at it, #MACtion, as great as it can be hurts the Ohio athletics culture.
7 PLAYOFFS?!?!…….Mostly just a pipe dream for a MAC school.
Ohio athletics is fairly strong across the board it has seen success in all major sports fairly recently, it has seen professional athletes come through its programs as well. Despite all of the recent success’s the Bobcats have had on the athletic fields there is one thing that we must keep in mind. That is, we are a mid-major MAC school. This means that although we may have success, although we may make it to the post-season, we will never have certain athletic experiences like a “sports school” like Ohio State will have. An appearance in an historic game such as the College Football Playoff, the Men’s Basketball Final Four, the Men’s Hockey Frozen Four, among others just isn’t feasible for a smaller school like Ohio. For this reason, athletics aren’t as crazed here. Deep down, all Bobcats know, whether we want to admit it or not, we seldom if ever have the opportunity to play in the biggest game on the biggest stage.
Athens City Council began discussing an ordinance that would bring a new community pool to the city Athens back in 2014. At a meeting Monday, February 8, one thing has become clear: the waters are uneasy and tensions have risen between members of council about what the best course of action is. City Council is no closer to a decision today then they were two years ago. It’s time to calm the waters of the community pool issue and make a decision. Any decision.
Ordinance 0-02-16 was introduced by First Ward Representative Kent Butler, authorizing engineering services for an outdoor municipal swimming pool. The ordinance also allows Athens City Auditor, Kathy Hecht, to borrow a $500,000 bond to do so. No decision was reached Monday.
Council knows they want a new pool for the community, but they don’t know much else at this juncture.
Right now, the project cost remains uncertain, the most basic elements of this project (indoor or outdoor) remain undecided, and the mayor is “praying” that the pool will open by next summer. I think it is safe to say the notion that the new pool with be open and fully functional by summer 2017 is laughable and nothing short of a pipe dream.
With this in mind, I have just one request for City Council , a request for progress. Make decisions, stick to them, and move forward with what will inevitably be a very time consuming, arduous process. Give the people of Athens a new pool, a pool without leaks and rusted pipe pieces.
The biggest doubter of the project is Third Ward Representative Michele Papai, who commented,
“I have to tell you, my confidence in the process has waned over the past year. When I see outdoor pool I wish it would say outdoor aquatic center,” Papai said. “It really doesn’t include a lot of what our community asked for. The bottom line is the fairness to the voters. It’s difficult for me to back this ordinance. The wording of this ordinance isn’t specific enough. I think we put the cart before the horse.”
McGhee said, “I see no reason to rush this, I completely agree with everything Councilwoman Papai has said.
Similarly, Councilwoman Fahl said, “I don’t have a lot of confidence. I think the planning process that’s been presented to the public has been very confusing. The plan is too amorphous. The planning committee hasn’t served us well, maybe we haven’t asked enough questions.”
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was equally concerned about the project due to the varying financial implication of the decision to construct an outdoor pool versus an indoor pool. Specifically, the financial burden of an indoor pool likely requiring paying employees year-round as opposed to paying employees seasonal wages as is customary with an outdoor swimming pool.
For Patterson, action, whatever it may be, should be taken quickly as the current pool is rapidly draining money. The cost to repair the current pool to keep it open just one more year is at least $150,000.
“We’ve been holding back on the citizenry for something that they’re already paying taxes for,” Patterson said.
Multiple Athens residents also spoke at the meeting, voicing the concern that there is no real plan in place. They are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of transparency on the part of City Council, saying that the numbers for the project just do not add up. They asked the council to come up with a plan and disclose it to the public where they can provide their input.
Many councilmembers mentioned the importance of planning. They said that multi-million dollar projects like this one, which is expected to cost “around” seven million dollars, needs a well thought out plan and a significant amount of time. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have much of a plan, they are running out of time, and the project is surrounded by uncertainty. And sadly, if you missed the meeting you will be hard-pressed to find coverage. The Athens City Council Twitter (@CityofAthensOH) provided sparse coverage. On the bright side, Ohio University’s WOUB has you covered with all the up-to-date coverage.
As a student at Ohio University, and a temporary resident of Athens, the utter confusion and disheveled nature of this pool project is concerning. What is even more concerning though is how little progress has been made week after week, confusion still persists.
At the January 19 meeting Ken Butler said, “This is solely for an outdoor pool, which may be controversial for some,” said Councilman Kent Butler, who presented the ordinance.
Similarly, on the 19th, Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran said, “The public has been led to believe that all options were on the table and now we’re essentially saying “no, this is only for an outdoor pool.”
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was quoted at the January 19 meeting having said, “I’m pretty firm, personally, about moving this forward, getting things going,” Patterson said. “We’ve got an aging, failing pool…and I’m praying we can keep it going and be open in the summer, I really am.”
As a resident of Athens who will probably never even swim in the multi-million dollar facility I would just like to see some concrete decisions made. What I mean by that is: I don’t care if the pool is indoor or outdoor, I just want a decision to be made and stuck with. The reality is that there will be supporters and opponents regardless of what type of pool is created. You cannot please everyone no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes it’s the simple questions that seem to give us the answers that surprise us the most. For example, “Do I even know anything about my next door neighbor?” For me, that answer was obvious, how I could be so introverted and set in my ways that I never took the time to knock on the door and meet my neighbor I have no idea, but today was the last day I didn’t know my next door neighbor.
But what would I find on the other side of the door?
As it turns out, I live next door to Sam Blodget, a senior from right here in Athens, Ohio. For Sam, the decision to attend Ohio University was an easy one, almost a no-brainer if you will.
“It was just easy to do, you pick up your things and move them across town and you’re done,” Blodget said.
It also helped that when it was time to decide on a school, he was interested in journalism, and one of the best journalism schools was basically in his backyard.
Fast-forward four years later, Blodget now finds himself studying in the Russ College of Engineering.
“Journalism just wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. It wasn’t giving me what I wanted,” Blodget said. “When I was in Scripps I was working with CAD (Computer Animation Design) and you get a chance to do that, working with all three, which I enjoy, so that’s why I switched to engineering.”
While Sam loves Athens, the city he says “has elements of a small town and city” he knows his days are numbered in Athens.
“You can’t really find job opportunities in Athens for CAD or engineering. It’s been hard finding work in Athens the last few summers. I know I’ll probably have to leave Athens sooner rather than later.”
Sam spends his free time doing some of the same things he is accustomed to doing inside the classroom.
“I love playing videogames and messing around with computers. I don’t really have a favorite thing to do, or place to hang out here in Athens,” Blodget said. “Some places are better than others, but I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite or that one is way better then another.”
Sam and I may not have that much in common, but he is a person with a story, a story which I am happy to know a small sliver of. Sometimes you need to open a door and see what or who is behind it.
Upon moving to Ohio four years ago, I found myself wondering the streets of Athens trying to see what this new town I would be call my home for the next five years had to offer. I found it to be a quant college town that bares a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of a bigger city like Pittsburgh, where I grew up.
While wondering, I quickly found many places and buildings alike that would be critical to my success during my time spent in Athens while attending Ohio University. There was one place though, that I found early in my travels that would be far more important than all the rest, despite having nothing to with academics.
That place was the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant located on W. Union St. As a Pittsburgh native who proudly embraces the stereotype which assumes any Pittsburgher to a sports-crazed maniac when it comes to his or her hometown teams, Buffalo Wilds Wings was paramount in allowing me to maintain my reputation as a sports-crazed Pittsburgher, not to mention it gave me a little taste of home every Sunday.
As a fan of Pittsburgh sports, there really is no worse place to live than Ohio, surrounded by rival fans everywhere you look. Whether they are Cleveland fans or Cincinnati fans is irrelevant, they will hate all this Pittsburgh no matter what. This is something I have leaned over and over again throughout the past four years, where the last two of which I have I have spent with roommates who are die-hard Cleveland sports fans.
Due to my rather unfortunate living arrangement where the ratio of Cleveland fans to Pittsburgh sits at two to one, I often lose the battle over the TV remote and subsequently what game should be put on in the living room. An ironic and sad turn of events considering the living room TV is my TV, not my roommates.
Luckily for me, just a short walk from my Court Street apartment is Buffalo Wild Wings. The place where the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates are always on, and for a few hours every week it’s like I never left my beloved city where we bleed black and gold.