Earlier this summer, I was in Dublin, Ireland. As I was walking around the city one day in my Ohio State shirt, two different people responded to it; one person just got excited, and the other gave me an O-H. (And yes, I responded appropriately.) There I was, over 3500 miles away from Columbus, and I managed to find fellow Ohio State fans. Why is that? Because us Buckeyes are everywhere.
According to OSU's website, there are nearly 500,000 living alumni of our fine university. About 285,000 of them live in Ohio, with the other nearly 215,000 of us to live in places like DC, New York, Chicago, and Ireland. I myself currently live in Pittsburgh, which means that I'm close enough to Ohio still to run into the occasional Buckeye fan, which is always nice.
After spending most of my life in central Ohio, living elsewhere is sort of an odd experience. In central Ohio, Ohio State is everywhere. Here, it's more sparse, making it that much more exciting to see someone walking around with an "Urban Renewal" shirt on or an OSU alum license plate. Whenever I see some form of scarlet and gray paraphernalia, I feel a slight connection to that person, even though he or she is a complete stranger. Anyone outside of our fandom may read that and think me weird, but I believe that most Buckeyes, especially those who have lived or do live elsewhere, will understand. There's something special about our massive university. The fact that I am just one of 500,000 alumni doesn't make me feel diminished or small; it makes me feel like a real part of a community. There are currently more than 225 geography-based alumni clubs spread across the world. Looking for fellow Buckeyes in Little Rock, Arkansas? Not a problem. Trying to find somewhere to watch the game in Uganda? We've got you covered.
Ohio State is so much more than just a team to root for. As our beautiful alma mater says, "how firm thy friendship, Ohio." It's a bond we all share, whether we're alumni or just fans. We're part of something big, something that can't be stopped or hindered by scandals or commotion. We are The Ohio State University. We've done great things and produced great people, and we will continue to do so.
So next week, as you watch our boys take on Navy in the season opener, remember that you're not alone watching the game. In addition to all the lucky fans in the 'Shoe and everyone spread across the state, there are people all over the world cheering on the team. "In old Ohio, there's a team that's known throughout the land." The Buckeye Battle Cry does not lie, folks. We are the Buckeyes, and we're known throughout the land.
So wherever you are this football season, I hope you have a place to watch and a community to watch with. If you live in a big US city, I can almost promise you that somewhere there's a Buckeye bar. Go have a drink and watch the game. Our friendship is firm, our commitment to excellence is strong, and we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan.