If you’ve never lived in Ohio, you perhaps cannot truly understand the role of Ohio State athletes in the community. They aren’t just football players or basketball players: they are expected to be role models, good citizens, and able representatives of an important institution. Buckeyes fans want Ohio State to have great players, to be sure, but we also want them to be great people so that they can fulfill that aspirational role.
This little video of a visit some Ohio State basketball players made to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to hang out with some of the kids who are being treated there, gives a glimpse of what can happen when good people become Buckeyes. And it happens all the time, usually without any fanfare. When one of my colleagues was battling cancer, he was surprised by a visit from some Ohio State football players, including one of the biggest stars on the team. They came, they sat down, they talked with him and listened to him, and they provided encouragement. No photographers or publicists were there, and to my knowledge no news story about the visit ever appeared. But my friend greatly appreciated the gesture and the fact that these football players took time away from being BMOC to visit an ill stranger.
It touched him deeply, and it made me understand, better than I had before, the great significance these young people can assume — if they are good people. That’s one reason why we care so much about who becomes a Buckeye.