Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ohio State, College Football, and Incivility

      As a college football fan, I have become a listener of former Ohio State Quarterback turned broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit. He presents himself as a level-headed, objective journalist who is respected for unbiased reporting. On a recent twitter exchange, he replied to another fan with "...You're right about the debate culture, but debate is healthy and doesn't require ugliness".
     I have never been shy about being a  Clemson fan, which occurred by default because of family connections. I enjoy frequent trips to Death Valley and over the years, have witnessed some exciting games. This is in stark contrast to my complete lack of respect for Ohio State after the shameful way they treated a teaching assistant, Norma McGil. This transpired during the scandal plagued years of past coach Jim Tressel but more on that later. With all of that as a backdrop, now we learn that the wisdom of Kirk Herbstreit in illuminating the ugliness of debating in today's culture.
     It all started on twitter, when I responded to a tweet of someone from Ohio State saying they could not understand what happened last Saturday in the Michigan State game. Sensing lively spirited banter, I answered, by saying, the better team won! No doubt, an argument or debate, could be made to the validity of my declaration, as they did score more points. A sign of old fashioned sportsmanship would be teams and fans, being gracious in both victory and defeat. Surprisingly, what ensued was more of a pack of rabid dogs smelling distress and the attack began.
     However, I must admit, I did have a small amount of civil dialogue with some of the members of "Buckeye nation", which is how they refer to themselves. Some pointed out that the insults came from a "lunatic fringe" of fans that seem to overwhelm many sports programs. However, those belligerent ones, who most likely never attended college, much less a  major university, eliminated any semblance of civility that existed. In these ugly exchanges, I felt like a bait dog at a pit bull fight. Sadly, this incivility is a microcosm of what exists within society today.
     During these attacks, it was pointed out that I was a hater, an idiot, geezer and a few more colorful alternative words. It did not last long for the attacks to escape my football beliefs and move on to the mental health advocacy that I volunteer a great deal of time. This work is prominently displayed on my twitter homepage. With the words, mental health as a target, I understood more of what Norma McGil faced on that campus back in 2002-03  
     One classy fan said "Go p--s yourself old man". Another one was more blunt by telling me to "Go back to the nursing home!"  A player even got in on the act by making another derogatory comment about my age. My reply was yes I am getting older, but I am far from being ready for nursing home. With a bit of luck, all of the people flinging those vile comments, including that player, will  one day live to be my age or older. They may even be as active as I am even after numerous operations.
      What I witnessed, besides ugly dialogue, was the psychology of mob mentality in social networking, which individuals associated with Ohio State seem to relish. Few were debating the merits of my benign statement, the better team won, they set their sights on me personally. It was as if I had attacked their mothers or shot their dogs as their demented hatred permeated this "dialogue".
     During some speeches I have given, I have been asked when this school become so arrogant and begin to show utter contempt for others? Ohio States cheap arrogance has its origins in its Former President Gordon Gee living vicariously as a bully through his football team. His actions as a role model, and a pathetic one at that rubbed off on the people associated with the school. Specifically, his demeaning behavior towards other schools and some religious bigotry that Buckeye Nation finds acceptable.
     I must admit that as the comments came in, I threw some gasoline on the fire, when I asked if other teams should hide their cheerleaders, in reference to Carlos Hydes inappropriate behavior this past summer. However, I clearly did not need to do that,  as their depraved appetite to spew venom was on full display. All because I made an innocent comment after a game.
     Over the years, many have asked me why do I hate Ohio State. I respond by reminding people I do not hate the school, but I do not respect what they did. I remind many that if we judge a society on how they treat their most vulnerable, then Ohio State should be ashamed and condemned for their treatment of the earlier mentioned Norma McGil.
     To refresh everyone's memory, Miss McGil was a teaching assistant at Ohio State, who excelled academically, and was working on an advanced degree. She made allegations that some football players were given preferential treatment in class, and it created a firestorm of allegations, not against the player, but directed at her.  Shortly thereafter, she came face to face with a modern day lynch mob and became a true victim of the same repugnant hatred many others have experienced or witnessed from this school.
    A obvious example would be Columbus radio station WBNS, a flagship station of OSU,  who once employed a sportscaster by the name of Ian Fitzsimmons. This person found entertainment by calling her "Norma the Mental Freak" and even cheered on a caller who referred to her as a "Crazy black bitch". Another member of "Buckeye Nation", called the Vanilla Gorilla, who claimed to be a graduate student at the school, at that time wrote, "Until Norma has her ugly insane ass circulating in public...". He went on to make even more offensive comments such as turning her into a transsexual. All of these narratives became comical fodder for members of Buckeye Nation. Shockingly, the school administration and Coach Tressel witnessed this persecution in chilling silence.
     In reflection, Norma was just a hardworking woman, trying to get an education and become a role model for younger African American women.  She had three strikes against her; She was female, African American and had a mental illness. The same illness that afflicted many prominent leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and many others. She lost her dreams and hopes because when she spoke up, Ohio State attacked her illness, not the merits of her claims.
     It bears pointing out that though her illness was besieged by this lynch mob, no one on campus was ever able to point to any "bizarre behavior" of hers as evidence that she was unstable.    
     Where was Buckeye nation during all this? As many can ascertain, they were defending the actions of Maurice Clarret and  mocking Norma Mcgil. They were also defending head coach Jim Tressel, who has proven to be a liar on the magnitude not seen since the dark days of Richard Nixon. During that Clarret scandal, nobody stood up for Norma, and few, if any, were concerned that Maurice had serious issues. Disgustingly, many found his actions okay simply because he could score touchdowns. Strangely, that opinion of Clarret lingers to this day, even after spending three years in prison for armed robbery.
     We should all find disheartening that onslaughts from Buckeye Nation come with such viciousness, and stupidity, but when one of their fellow students came under a barrage, they stand back and laugh. That is nothing for any group to hold up with a sense of pride. If they simply do love their school, if they genuinely had the best interests of their classmates at heart, why did this school crucify Norma? To them, the football game became more valuable than the individual and best interests of her, and once again, that is not a source of self-glorification.
     If there was ever an example of people losing their moral compass, Kirk Herbstreit's tweet spelled it out thoroughly. He was referring to the current disrespectful behavior of many sports fans. Sadly, that is just a microcosm on the values of society as people take stupid things like a football game and make them life or death. Ohio State thought it was okay to destroy the life of a defenseless woman, simply because she interfered with their ability to win some football games.
     I have some advice for these members of buckeye nation. Start doing something productive with your lives. Go out and do volunteer work to witness firsthand how the less fortunate live and fight for an existence. Who knows, some may one day realize that there are more problems in the world then defending the loss of a football game. However, based on what I witnessed, I doubt that many of them can pull themselves from behind their masks of shallowness and ignorance to do anything truly valuable! That is nothing for Ohio State to wear as a badge of honor!


  1. Your tweet was to an OSU player who just lost a heartbreaking game. He said that he couldn't believe that just happened. You asked, what that the better team won or that Urban Meyer didn't walk on water. You admitted in a layer tweet that you said these things to get OSU fans reaction. You state over and over that you hate OSU and that it will be hard being a Clemson fan in Ohio. Looks to me like you were baiting fans to react and then getting angry when they did. That's pretty disrespectful.

    1. Thank you for your civil reply. To begin with, my tweet we in answer to one on my timeline. I had no clue that it was a player, as this person follows the same sports writer that I do. In fact when I discovered who it was, he was the one I was most impressed with watching the Michigan State game. However, if he makes a public comment, and it gets answered, that does not give him the right to make personal attacks. As I wrote my article, I gave my word to the media relations people at OSU that I would NOT identify him, as that is not the point of the posting.
      Secondly, The name calling, threats and comments by some of the fans were disgusting. I also can point to a member of Buckeye nation posting on a woman account, calling her a whore and saying her husband looks retard, all for being Michigan graduates. This same person was making similar comments about me.
      Finally, if you believe that me standing up for a defenseless woman is disrespectful, then perhaps you better reevaluate your priorities in life. Mine go beyond a football game.
      Also, the comments about urban Meyer were the ones made by Ohio State fans after losing to Florida in the BCS title game.I noticed not one defense of the girl that had her life demeaned because she told the truth.
      Once again, thank you for the civil comment.

    2. I never said that standing up for someone was disrespectful. What was disrespectful was Tweeting inflammatory statements on purpose and then being all outraged was. And an hour ago you stated that "OSU fans are assholes" on Twitter. Wish you could share civil comments.

    3. Thank you for your comments, so let me clarify. I was speaking about the fans that were attacking me with similar and much worse comments then the one I posted. I noticed no outrage when I pointed out that someone called some woman, who is a wife and a mother a whore and a retard simply for being an OSU fan. This same member of your group posted that they should harass me until I leave the state, and you consider that civil? Where is your outrage?
      You wrote that I was outraged over the response from people, and I truly wasn't. The threats some of your cohorts made were stupid, but they were deleted, but not before I printed them. I was amazed that so many people consider their football team life or death. The day after the game I will still be speaking to many groups such as police departments, high schools nursing students and such about suicide prevention. My life will not change one way or another.
      You asked about civil comments, keep reading my tweets about mental health issues, about suicide prevention and such, you will find them to be quit interesting. My book next year will highlight bigotry against the mentally ill.
      I have a question for you and all your friends. Where was the outrage when the local media destroyed Norma Mcgil? She was called a crazy black bitch and buckeye nation cheered those people on. I do not expect you to answer that, after all, what is that old saying about people in glass houses..
      Thank you again for responding, most people responded to this article that was posted on Cleveland.com . In the near future,I have an article coming out on how the lack of mental health care is the prime contributor to the mass shootings that have occurred in the last few years.