Columbus, Ohio is trending on Twitter. Although I live and work near Columbus, I am just as surprised as those of you who have never heard of Ohio’s capital city. Columbus is not a national newsworthy city. We keep to ourselves mostly, dealing with our problems in house, the way a parent might brush off the interference from a meddling social worker. The reason for Columbus’ sudden rise in popularity is due to one, simple fact: there is finally a sports team for us to root for.
Unfortunately, Ohio sports fans don’t usually have a lot to get excited about. The Ohio State Buckeyes lost in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t made a blip in any kind of major news syndicate since Lebron James abandoned us. According to the Red Reporter, this year’s Cincinnati Reds may have the worst offense in 20 years. The Cincinnati Bengals are no better, who ESPN reports have lost in the first round of the playoffs five out of five times during the past 11 years. I won’t even mention the Cleveland Browns. Like a heart-wrenching breakup, they are just too painful to talk about. Perhaps the motto for WFNY, a site dedicated to Ohio Sports teams, says it all: “Waiting for next year…a tradition of hope, passion, and misery.”
And it isn’t just our sports teams that have a hard time in Ohio. According to Sperling’s Best Places to Live and Retire, Columbus has a job growth rate of negative 2.17%. The job market is very competitive and flooded with college students from schools like the Ohio State University. Without a bachelor’s degree, it is difficult to find a high paying job. In fact, Sperling’s Best Places reports that over 50% of Columbus residents earn less than 50,000 dollars a year.
Ohioans have a glimmer of hope in the rising stardom of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets started out like any other Ohio franchise-losing. According to the Blue Jackets official website, the Blue Jackets only qualified for the playoffs once in a 13 year history, and that was a first round loss to Detroit in four straight games. A playoff sweep is such a disappointing loss for fans, losing on national television four games in a row. Night after night, listening to announcers who aren’t as biased as your local news teams give crushingly honest evaluation of your pathetic, losing team. It is almost worse than not making the playoffs at all.
So having a team in contention for a playoff berth is exciting, if not amazing! The Blue Jackets are actual contenders and as fans, we too can become contenders. Fans relate to their teams and carry the burden of their losses with them throughout their lives. People in Columbus are dying for something to look forward to and this year the Columbus Blue Jackets are that inspiration.
Even people that aren’t hockey fans are alive with pride at the mention of the city’s Blue Jackets. The downtown Arena District is covered in blue and grey banners. Nearby restaurants and bars are full of chatter about last night’s game or tomorrow night’s important conference show down.
It’s been a cold, harsh winter, but just like spring flowers the Blue Jackets are promising to blossom into the symbol of hope Columbus, Ohio needs. Citizens of the working city unite, all longing to hear the final, roaring boom of the Civil War replica cannon that announces our Blue Jackets’ win and emergence into the playoffs. It is a sound we could all get used to hearing.
Janelle Fila lives and works near Columbus, Ohio. She visits the Arena District and German Village as often as possible. The Blue Jackets are her favorite Ohio team. This spring she continues her education with an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Spalding University.