Went to my first Indy 500 yesterday and had THE BEST TIME! Weather was perfect, racing was dizzying with speed and excitement (J.R. Hildebrand’s final-lap crash was RIGHT in front of us!), and I shared the experience with my family and treasured friends from near and far.
The people sitting next to us were from Michigan but could not have been nicer, until we all cheered for central Ohio native Graham Rahal when he took the lead.
“You a Rahal fan?” one asked.
“He’s from our home town,” I told him. “Columbus, Ohio!”
“Home of Ohio Cheatin’ State, huh?” he replied.
I was then gifted with a short diatribe about Jim Tressel, and the moral failings of our football team, which was a bunch of cheating losers.
The words were painful but even worse was the fact that I, who never lack comment, had little to offer in retort.
I often say I can easily humiliate myself–I don’t need any help. But this whole football situation has provided ample much opportunity for our whole university community to suffer the slings and arrows of controversy–too much of it true and accurate. And almost worse were the people who still defended this coach and the actions of he and this program.
When our Lantern writers, Jimmy Oldham and editor and chief Zach Meisel wrote a story on Ray Small’s allegations about a long history of impropriety within the football team, we received emails and calls in support, but just as many, it seemed, from fans or alumni who took the paper to task for writing a piece that “defamed” our football team. How dare we speak of such actions in university pages–our job was to defend, not expose.
Our job, my friends, is the truth. And that is what our reporters brought forth–fairly and accurately, succinctly and clearly, as they have been well taught through their time in our Journalism program.
A few hurtful words from some otherwise pleasant Michigan fans did nothing to deter from our Indy experience, which was accurately billed as the “greatest spectacle in racing.” And the morning after our Indy adventure, my son woke my husband and me by bursting into our bedroom with the news, “TRESSEL RESIGNED!”
We were a little surprised, a little sad and a little relieved.
There is surely more to come. A “Sports Illustrated” story is coming out today to reportedly blow the lid off this thing. Sanctions are coming, criticism is coming and a lot of snide comments are coming. We were the mighty, and we have fallen, but only–I REPEAT ONLY–on the football field.
We continue to ponder what all this will mean in the scope of the university we love, and the students, faculty and supporters who deserve to be thought of with far more respect than we have recently received.