Last night, the Columbus Bluejackets finished their perfect sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning with an emphatic game four win in Nationwide arena. It was without question the single biggest win in franchise history, sending the Jackets to the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever. But of course, you already knew that.
For your consideration (and to soothe your post-celebration hangover/exhaustion) here’s a roundup of some of the spiciest memes and reactions to the Jackets big win!
Established in 1974, the National Women’s Football League was a perfect reflection of the times, a groundbreaking movement that mirrored the social landscape. At the height of women’s liberation, the N.O.W., and Billie Jean King’s “Battle of the Sexes,” the full-contact contests held by the NWFL promoted that same statement of equality for women in sports—and in Ohio, the Toledo Troopers won seven consecutive championships in the league, which have to this day, made them the winningest franchise in all of professional football. That the Troopers hold such a coveted record and tell a story of gender politics mostly unheard, is a common theme that runs through Ohio—Champion of Sports, the new exhibit at the Ohio History Center.
At first, the title of the exhibit is a seemingly audacious, and very Ohioan, statement to make. Champion of (all) sports? Though Ohio natives are as passionate about their teams as any other state in the country, the exhibit gives an almost inherent right to the claim. Our traditions run deep. Our superstars— from Bobby Rahal to Lebron James—have achieved the highest pinnacle of glory. But throughout the museum there are a multitude of stories, like that of the Troopers, that shape that narrative beyond championships.
“Telling the national story of sports can be tough without including Ohio in there,” says the Ohio History Center’s curator Eric Feingold. “Whether you’re talking about the birth of the National Football League or the All-American Soapbox Derby in Akron, to some of the more prominent stories, such as Ohio State football, Ohio has really contributed to this story in major ways.”
The fully-interactive exhibit is divided into six thematic zones—including Character, Adversity, Innovation, Identity, Tradition, and Victory—where each attribute is shown through the lens of Ohio sports. The “Victory” wing, for example, is anchored by the triumph of local boxer Buster Douglas’ unlikely defeat of Mike Tyson, while “Innovation” highlights Ohio’s role in the evolution of the soapbox “gravity racers” used in derbys. “Identity,” by comparison, challenges the shameful use of the Cleveland Indians’ longtime mascot Chief Wahoo, while “Adversity” tells the tale of Youngstown pitcher Dave Dravecky’s World Series dream shattered by cancer.
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Even the diehard Ohio sports fan will find something they may have never known. While it’s common knowledge that Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati dominated the NCAA men’s basketball tourneys of the early ‘60s, there are stories like that of the UC Bearcats being the first team to start four African-American players, illuminating how these teams and athletes were breaking barriers as well as records and stats. Or even the hidden minutiae of small-town Hiram College becoming the first basketball team to bring home an Olympic gold for the United States.
“The exhibit is a new approach,” says Feingold of the non-traditional way in which Champion of Sports was designed. “Generally museums are object-driven, but in this case, we’ve worked with athletes, coaches, and fans to collect their oral histories. It’s this idea that you want to try to acquire objects as you’re going along and getting these stories from the people involved.”
Still, there are over 200 objects procured from the museum’s permanent collection, other museums, like the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and from private collections, that bring to life these stories—spotlighted are Lebron James autographed rookie jersey and a full-scale Airstream, that “may or may not have” instigated the first examples of traditional “tailgating.”
As a intentional gesture, the exhibit is not just static with the objects; there are displays of videos that show those oral histories, and fun kiosks to record your own victory dances, but it’s those objects that look forward that have the most pull. Some of Feingold’s favorite pieces in the exhibit come from just a few years back and the creation of Ohio Roller Derby. In that, the museum aims to battle preconceived notions about the strategy of the sport, showing how it’s not a gimmick, but instead a compelling labor of love for the dedicated athletes who participate.
“This is an exhibit more about the human experience and the human condition,” says Feingold. “These objects highlight the intersection of sports and larger issues. Sports is just the entryway into a lot of larger themes.”
Ohio—Champion of Sports is now open at the Ohio History Center. Visit ohiohistory.org for hours and more information.
Sorry, Gear-Heads. It looks like the dream of major league Lacrosse in Columbus has come to an end.
According to a statement released yesterday, Major League Lacrosse has announced that the league would be reducing the number of teams from nine to six for the upcoming 2019 season. The Ohio Machine was one of the teams to be eliminated by the contraction.
“This announcement comes as a terrible surprise to all of us at the Machine,” the official statement posted to the team website reads. “We share in the incredible disappointment in this upsetting news with all those that have supported us over the years. As shocking as this news is, it should not be seen as a reflection of the tremendous success that the Machine, and the game of lacrosse in Ohio, has experienced in recent years.”
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The announcement states that business partners and ticket holders for the 2019 season will be contacted and issued full refunds.
The news comes as some surprise in light of the team’s many accomplishments in recent years. The Machine appeared in four straight playoff berths under head coach Bear Davis, including back-to-back appearances in the MLL Championship game, and a championship win in 2017.
The dissolution of The Machine leaves the future of the team’s stadium in question, as well. Fortress Obetz was the nation’s first purpose-built professional lacrosse stadium, and also served as home to the now-defunct Fashion Meets Music Festival.
So long, Machine. You join the ranks of such bygone Columbus-based teams as The Chill and The Destroyers (though the latter is soon to be revived). Please share your fondest memories of Ohio’s first pro lacrosse team in the comments.
If you have landed on this story, the odds that you are looking for the final results of the basketball games over the weekend are slim to none. ESPN and company beat us to that by a landslide. Instead of giving the typical coverage you can find on Twitter and Facebook, we set out to cover March Madness from a new perspective. We wanted to follow the madness on the court as well as the hard working people behind the scenes helping make this multi-million dollar machine operate at full potential.
The stage is set and the characters are in their respective place. The fans file in and find their way to the seats, the student-athletes (or athlete-students depending on your perspective) emerge from the locker room to the court to the sound of cheers and boos alike. Meanwhile, eager photographers and journalists make their way to their red taped areas for an office away from the office in what feels like a kid taking a field trip from class for the day. This is March, and this is madness.
The basketball circus that occured over the weekend wasn’t a surprise to anyone in the city. If you’re on social media in March, there’s no escaping college basketball and brackets. It’s entrenched into our sports-loving, midwesternite brains and the $6 million in revenue the city made over the weekend proves that money making madness isn’t going the way of the dodo anytime soon.
Through our time at Nationwide Friday and Sunday, we wanted to highlight the madness that doesn’t make it on TV. Though the athletes and coaches on the court are ultimately the performers who create storylines that not even Hollywood can dream up, what’s a production without an audience? And if a six million dollar tree falls in the city and no photographers are around to take photos of it, did it even happen?
From the photo pit on the baseline, the sounds are deafening and the sights are unlike any other sports viewing experience. You can feel the electricity and tension on the court, you can see the frustrations and trash talking (you can also hear the band director admit to his band, “they don’t tell us anything so when I signal to play, start playing immediately.”), and you can sense when one team is losing momentum. There’s somethings television just can’t capture like true, raw, and live viewing can.
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In the stands, you’re yet another brightly colored t-shirt and hat amongst waves and wave of other brightly colored garb and swag. You’ll find Tennessee fans sandwiched in between Iowa fans as well as Ohio State fans who just snagged tickets for the love of watching the game. You’ll even find some Michigan fans, like the military veteran who was first met with high cheers during the honorary segment for vets and heros but then a few playful boos once he pointed at his Michigan basketball shirt. It’s all love during the madness.
The view from the press level, however, is unlike anything else during the games. This entire weekend is action packed excitement with 30-minute breaks in between. But for journalists and photographers, this is an art of time management and efficiency. While photographers enjoy almost the best seats in the house, they are constantly at battle of capturing the moment in an effective manner–publications don’t want blurry shots, and what do you mean you didn’t get any shots of the big dunk? For writers and journalists, it’s a battle of speed and access. How quickly can I get this story posted after the game? Did that comeback really happen? Now I have to rewrite my story before this press conference with the coach.
Once the weekend wrapped up and the dust settled, workers at Nationwide began their duties of teardown and clean up almost immediately. As the locker room fills with reporters and photographers anxious for that big sound bite or feature photo, the event staff begin cleaning the seating areas, removing the hardwood floor, and start prepping for the next game—only this time the athletes are on ice. Just like the athletes, photographers, and everyone in between, it’s time to go back to reality. The office calls and the classroom beckons for them while the rest of us watch on.
Brian Kaiser is the photo editor at 614 Media. To see more, visit @brianmkaiser on Instagram.