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Column: With the season looming, I’m excited to have something to be excited about

It’s been a long time since we’ve had something to really look forward to.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

As I continue my week-long process of hyping myself up before we officially get into game week this coming Sunday, I realized that either my plan to ramp up my excitement has worked faster than I anticipated, or that I am just incredibly susceptible to suggestion, even to one that comes from myself.

Less than a week ago, I was bemoaning the fact that it hasn’t started to feel like college football season yet, despite games starting a month and a half ago. But, after allowing myself to become absorbed in the chaos that was last Saturday’s slate, and then talking about some of the things that I am excited about for the season over the past few days, I am now 100% ready to go.

I feel like I just mainlined 24-straight hours of OSU hype videos, and even though we are still a week and a half away from kickoff, I am ready to run through a brick wall, put a sousaphone on my back and march around a football field, and/or bulldoze a hapless Husker defender if he is foolish enough to get in my way (ok, that last one is clearly never going to happen, but you get the drift).

But the reason that I am most excited isn’t necessarily because I think the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at the national title (which I do), nor is it because I think that Justin Fields is set up to have a truly historic season (which I also do). Instead, I am most excited simply because after seven months of this pandemic shutdown, I actually have something to be excited about.

Whether we have been personally impacted by the medical ramifications of COVID-19 or not, every person in the country has suffered through the societal, economic, and emotional implications that this unprecedented pandemic has wrought.

Loved ones have died, jobs have been lost, friends and families have been separated, dreams and plans have been destroyed, and the devastation has been as widespread as it has been crippling. This year has been difficult for so many, and it’s nice to finally have something fun to look forward to. And while college football won’t erase the pain that we’ve collectively suffered, and it won’t even begin to compensate for the individual losses that we have endured, I’ve never been more excited for the distraction that an otherwise meaningless game can bring.

Yes, I still have reservations over the ethicality of playing games at all, but they are being played whether I have objections or not. And I admit, I have already gotten myself somewhere on the excited-side of the spectrum while watching the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cincinnati Reds, and LeBron James as they made their way through their respective seasons and playoffs (besides the King, I don’t really have any particular fondness for the Lakers), but let’s be honest, for an Ohio State fan, nothing is going to match the excitement of watching the Buckeyes play football.

And you know what? We deserve it, and we need it. I understand that opinions on the virus and its handling are as all over the map as a random ballot from an AP voter from the local paper in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but one thing that I am confident that we can all agree on is that we could desperately use something positive in our lives right now.

And while we are fortunate as Buckeye fans that in most of the times that our favorite team takes to the field, they come out with a win, it’s not just about the outcome of the games this year (although that certainly still matters). For me at least, this season is about having something to look forward to, to plan your week around, to put on the calendar and get excited about for an entire week.

This season is about really, truly relaxing for the first time in more than half a year and giving yourself over to the comfort and familiarity of something that meant so much to us in the before times. This season is about celebrating — yes the fact that college football is returning to Ohio, but also that we are here to enjoy it; that in whatever safe and responsible ways that we can, we are able to share it with loved ones near and far.

One of the things that I am most excited about is the frenetic hilarity that goes with trying to keep up with Buckeye Twitter during a game. There’s a giddy energy that we all feed into as we swap gifs (hard g) and 280-character jokes and observations as quickly as we can so that we don’t miss the next play.

It’s been a long time since many of us have had something to get giddy about, and I am so ready for it. Ohio State football certainly isn’t going to cure all that ails our lives, but perhaps it will provide a much needed respite from the stress that otherwise has dominated 2020. And, even if a three-hour distraction once a week ultimately proves to be all that this season brings, I for one am excited for it to start.

After some unexpected start and stops, I am back to posting a column every single day from preseason camp until whenever Ohio State’s football season ends. Some days they will be longer and in depth, some days they will be short and sweet. Let me know what you think of this one, and what you’d like to see me discuss in the comments or on Twitter. Go Bucks!