Sunday Centennial

The NFL is making a big deal this year about celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Given the momentous occasion, it’s worth pointing out that Columbus played a significant role in the early days of The League.

The NFL started out as the American Professional Football Association, in Canton.  In 1922 it changed its name to the National Football League and moved its headquarters to Columbus.  After several years of the league offices being housed in Columbus homes, the NFL and its Commissioner, the legendary Joe Carr, moved to a proper office building in downtown Columbus, at 18 East Broad Street — an office building I pass by regularly.  In fact, the building is being refurbished, and one of the placeholder signs on the front the building, pictured with this post, commemorates its role in the NFL’s history.  During that Jim Thorpe and Red Grange era, the League struggled financially, with franchises starting up and folding regularly, but it always had a strong Ohio connection.  In 1927, there were NFL teams in Cleveland (the Bulldogs, not the Browns) and Dayton (the Triangles) and other small towns, like Duluth, Frankford, and Pottsville, so having the headquarters in Columbus made sense.  The headquarters remained here until 1941, when they were moved to Chicago.

I suppose if you get to 100 you’ve got to celebrate the occasion, but as I watch some of the promotional materials the NFL has produced I wonder:  is the League going to be around for another 100 years?  With the players growing bigger and faster all the time, and serious injuries becoming more and more the norm — so much so that every year the League rolls out new rules and penalties to try to stem the tide of crippling concussions and devastating hits — how long can the NFL last?  In years to come, a radically different NFL might look back very fondly on its innocent early years, when it found its home in Columbus.

 

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Loud And Proud

As the Columbus Blue Jackets have moved forward in the NHL playoffs, there’s been a lot of buzz at the national level about how loud the crowd is during home games at Nationwide Arena.  Between the cannon blasts and the screaming fans, the consensus is that the home crowd gives the CBJ a decided home ice advantage.  My friends who have gone to some of the playoff games — to the extent their ringing ears allow them to understand human speech at all — have confirmed that yes, it’s loud.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue JacketsA story in the local press offered some scientific evidence of just how loud Nationwide Arena has been.  Using a decibel meter to measure the noise level, the article reported that it was 98 decibels — about the noise level of a snowmobile — before the most recent playoff game even started, the noise increased to 111 decibels (chainsaw level) when the teams took the ice, and the pandemonium topped out at 118 decibels (just about the noise of an ambulance siren passing by) when the game ended and the Blue Jackets took home a victory to move into a 2-1 series lead against the Boston Bruins.

It’s pretty impressive, but it’s worth pointing out that the Nationwide Arena fans are still far off the loudest crowd noise ever recorded at a sports event — 142 decibels, during a 2014 NFL playoff game in Kansas City.  That level of deafening noise might be out of reach, but for game 4 of the Boston series, tonight, Blue Jackets fans are aiming to get up to 125 decibels, which is about the level of a jackhammer.

It’s all very interesting to me, because I’m learning something new about my fellow Columbusites.  I wouldn’t say that Columbus sports fans are a sit-on-their-hands group, but I also haven’t thought of them as a raucous mob capable of producing a constant, pulsating ear-splitting din in support of their hometown teams.  Apparently I’ve been wrong all these years — it’s just taken a little NHL playoff run to up the uproar level and bring out the bedlam.

Going to Nationwide Arena for one of these games would be a great experience, but be sure to bring your earplugs.

The Accordion Factor

Today the Cap City half marathon and 10 K comes German Village. When the runners, walkers, and rollers reach Schiller Park they’ll be serenaded by a guy in lederhosen playing an accordion — because this is German Village after all.

It is a scientific fact that hearing accordion music makes you run faster.

Nick Bosa, Leon Trotsky, And Editing Your Own History

Nick Bosa is a very talented former Ohio State defensive lineman who will be participating in the upcoming NFL draft.  He’s also someone who’s been a regular user of social media and Twitter, where he’s expressed some opinions that other people disagree with — such as saying Black Panther is the worst Marvel movie, calling former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the movement of players kneeling during the National Anthem, a “clown,” and expressing support for President Trump.

But, as the NFL Draft Day nears, and Bosa is being considered by teams for one of the very first choices in the draft, he’s begun scrubbing his social media presence and Twitter feed and deleting the tweets and comments that might be deemed controversial and, conceivably, might affect his ultimate draft position.  The New York Times recently published an article about Bosa’s effort, and whether his more contentious views would make any difference in where he is drafted, anyway.

leon-trotsky-mediumIt’s an interesting aspect of today’s social media universe that allows users to do what the Soviet Union did after Leon Trotsky became anathema to Stalin and the other Communist leaders:  edit history, and carefully remove the blackballed (and eventually assassinated) Trotsky from official records and photos, the better to present the correct, sanitized “official history” of the Russian Revolution and the early days of the U.S.S.R.  Through the miracle of modern computer technology, users who regret their past ill-advised tweets or Facebook posts can go back and change them or delete them entirely, and hope that nobody notices, or cares, or kept some kind of record of the prior statement.  Nick Bosa’s scrubbing effort is newsworthy, but how many other people — people who are getting ready to run for office, people looking for special jobs, or people who just aren’t comfortable with something they said before — are going back and reshaping their own on-line histories, to delete anything that might be a problem in the future?

Of course, Trotsky disappeared from the official version that Soviet children learned and Soviet leaders espoused, but it didn’t change the reality of Trotsky’s existence, and records kept outside of the Soviet Union just exposed the whitewashing effort.  People who are editing their own social media histories similarly have to hope that somebody, somewhere, didn’t keep a copy of the controversial tweet.  If you are a political candidate who’s done a scrub job, I expect you’d always be a little uneasy, wondering whether a screen shot of the disagreeable statement might turn up somehow — which might just make your editing effort look like a cover-up.

I guess the better course is to think twice before you post things in the first place.

Off The Schneid — In Spectacular Fashion

The Columbus Blue Jackets came into the National Hockey League in the 2000-01 season.  In the 19 years since, the team has made the playoffs several times, but it has never won a single playoff series, and every year, dedicated Blue Jackets fans have gone home disappointed.

fans_celebrate_columbus_blue_jackets_swe_9_82832195_ver1.0_1280_720Until now.  This year, the Blue Jackets and their fans are off the schneid — and in spectacular fashion, too.

The Blue Jackets made the playoffs on the last weekend of the regular season.  As the eighth seed, they had to face the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning, which had tied the NHL record for the number of wins in a season, racked up an absurd number of points, and led the NHL in virtually every statistical category.  Tampa Bay was a prohibitive favorite in the series, and no one outside of the hopeful Columbus fan base gave the Blue Jackets much of a chance.

And yet, the CBJ won.  And they not only won, they did so in dominant fashion, sweeping the Lightning and capping off their triumph with a 7-3 win last night.  The fact that the Blue Jackets beat the Lightning at all is extraordinary — the Lightning were the biggest favorites to lose a playoff series since 2010 — but the fact that the CBJ won in a sweep is historic.  Tampa Bay is the first team in the NHL’s expansion era to get swept in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season.  That means the Blue Jackets have done something no team has done in more than 50 years.

I’m thrilled for the Blue Jackets, for their fans who get to savor the taste of a playoff series win, and also for Columbus itself, which will enjoy some of the fun and excitement and craziness as the NHL playoffs move forward and the city’s home team advances.  The CBJ will play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series in the next round.

March on, CBJ!

Let’s Go, CBJ!

The National Hockey League playoffs are underway.  The Columbus Blue Jackets had an up-and-down season and were one of the last teams to clinch a playoff spot.  Their reward was to draw the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.  The Lightning had a record-setting season that saw them lose only 16 games, and in their playoff match-up with the CBJ they are prohibitive favorites.

hi-res-51cdc32831e0d855c06d86564e0f71ab_crop_northPlaying at home in the first game of the playoff series last night, the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead, making the prognostications of a four-game sweep look solid.  But somehow, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made some improbable saves, the Blue Jackets kept their poise and started chipping away at the lead, and thanks to a three-goal third period and a last-minute power play score the CBJ — improbably — pulled out a victory on the road.

One road victory does not a series win make — as the Jackets learned last year, even two road wins doesn’t do that — but last night’s win allows CBJ fans to dream of an upset and has to give the team a shot of confidence.  Speaking for the city of Columbus, it would be nice to see the Blue Jackets, who have never won a playoff series in their history, advance to the second round.  For now, though, we’ll just settle for the general aura of good feeling that descends upon a town when its team gets a big win.  I expect there will be a lot of happy faces around downtown Columbus today.