From Thursday through Sunday, Muirfield Village Golf Club hosted The Memorial Tournament. After the last two years had zero or limited spectators, this year’s edition of the tournament felt like a return to normal. Not only were there fully galleries around Muirfield Village, but the weather even cooperated this year, as there wasn’t any rain after Thursday’s opening round.
The Buckeye State isn’t just all Ohio State when it comes to sporting events. Even if you take away all the events that are hosted by professional sports franchises in Ohio, there are still a ton of great events. Tennis in Cincinnati, golf in Akron, fitness in Columbus at the Arnold Classic, and much more.
While it’d be easy to say going to a Browns or Bengals game, or Columbus sporting events like Blue Jackets games or Crew matches, Brett and Meredith are going to try and go a little off the board today and pick their favorite sporting events outside of Ohio State events. The events don’t have to be annual events, either.
Today’s question: Outside of Ohio State events, what is the best sporting event in Ohio?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: US Soccer World Cup qualifying matches in Columbus
I know I could have said US Soccer World Cup qualifying matches in Ohio, but then we would have to give some respect to Cincinnati, and the city of garbage chili has done nothing to earn any respect when it comes to hosting World Cup qualifiers. Sure, they beat Mexico, but it’s not like the United States hasn’t been doing that in Columbus for almost two decades.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a USA/Mexico World Cup Qualifier. Unfortunately I must have been bad luck, since the Yanks lost the 2016 qualifier to Mexico at Historic Crew Stadium. Even with the loss, I still had an amazing time at the match. Then again, a lot of my enjoyment was probably because a friend of mine had front row seats to the match. Even though I saw a loss, I have had friends come in from out of town for previous USA/Mexico matches, and not only did they have a great time, they also gave Columbus glowing reviews.
Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Blue Jackets games, and I am a quarter-season ticket holder. I was at one of the second round playoff games when they eventually lost to Boston, and the excitement and pressure were dialed all the way up. Maybe if the Blue Jackets make it to a conference final or Stanley Cup Final I’ll change my answer, but it’s hard to pick club over country.
There’s not many sporting experiences that can match watching your country’s squad giving their all to try and qualify for a World Cup. Just look at how many people braved the cold in late January at the Crew’s new home as they hosted El Salvador. Columbus might as well be the USMNT’s home, since Uncle Sam’s boys are 9-1-2 in Ohio’s capital city.
Of course, as we are showing Columbus some soccer love, it will be quite some time before the USMNT has to deal with a World Cup qualifier, since they are a joint host of the 2026 World Cup. Even the USWNT will have their World Cup fate decided next month in Mexico, so all we’ll be able to enjoy from the two squads in the near future are friendlies that are scheduled for Columbus. Still, a very enjoyable event to take in!
Meredith’s answer: Western & Southern Open
I love the Memorial Tournament and all it entails, but, sorry to say, Columbus, I have to go with the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
I might be biased, because my company was a large sponsor of the event so I had the good fortune to be on-site managing the sponsorship for the duration of the tournament for several years running, but it really is a cool event.
As a US Open qualifier, the Western & Southern commands a much higher profile draw than one might expect for a summer tennis tournament in Cincinnati. On the men’s side, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Raphael Nadal, Novak Djokovic — all have graced the courts in Mason (often concurrently). For the women, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty have all won at the Western & Southern.
It really is the who’s who of tennis. It brings all the benefits of a major tournament with the accessibility of a Midwestern event. While the crowds will throng the top players in the world during their walks through the grounds, it’s nice that you actually have the opportunity to see these athletes from not that far away.
We have to acknowledge that the trophy is Rookwood Pottery. We also must admit that it doesn’t look like a sporting trophy (it’s literally breakable pottery), but I admire the spirit.
When it comes to the grounds, it doesn’t hurt that the food is really good, including copious amounts of Graeter’s ice cream — which is exactly how I prefer to cool down from the August heat.