Last week we attended the Midwest (minor) League All-Star Game here in Dayton hosted by the Dayton Dragons. We had awesome seats, the kids brought friends and the weather was perfect.
But something was amiss...
During the course of the game, the Dragons announcer brought out a series of entertainers that represented different aspects of the arts in Dayton, interspersed with some fun facts about Ohio. They even had a video featuring Dayton native Nancy Cartwright singing "Take me out to the Ballgame" in her most famous cartoon voices, including Bart Simpson.
All of that was great. I was encouraged to see the Dragons helping educate visitors from out of town about the great things in Dayton and Ohio.
One of the last Ohio promotions started out pretty well. The Dragons Green Team members ran out on the dugouts while the voiceover said the following (this is my best recollection):
Ohio is home to some of the greatest sports fans in the country. We love our Cleveland Browns [some cheers], our Cincinnati Bengals [more cheers], the Cleveland Indians [really, aren't you a Reds affiliate?], the Cincinnati Reds [big cheers], and in Dayton we have the University of Dayton Flyers and Wright State Raiders [cheers for both].
But one team we can all agree on... [I start getting confused here. Is the team we all love going to be the Dragons?] ...the one team we can all agree on is THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES! [Brutus Buckeye mascot runs out on the dugout to screams and cheers. While Hang on Sloopy plays.]
[SCREECH. Insert sound of a record scratching here.]
Did we, in an attempt to celebrate Dayton, just blow off our two local universities in favor of a giant poisonous nut (Look it UP. They are POISON.) and a song about a girl from the wrong side of the tracks?
What message are we sending? Ohio State is big, I know. And lots of people follow their sports teams, wearing the gear they bought both on campus and at Wal-Mart, I know.
However, as an alumna of both Ohio University and the University of Dayton, I don't find myself among the "all" in the assumptive, "a team we can all agree upon."
And frankly, I'm tired of it. Are local universities even standing up for themselves? We all know UD doesn't have the balls (pun intended) to face Wright State in basketball anymore. But can they at least ask local organizations to stop inviting out-of-town mascots over to dance?
I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of OSU fans in Dayton but there are also Notre Dame fans, Cincinnati fans, even (gasp!) Michigan fans here. I think it's a reasonable expectation that people in Dayton want to watch Buckeye games on TV and hear about the scores of their games (and exploits of their players) on local news. That's fine with me.
HOWEVER, I don't think it is appropriate for local institutions to favor out of town universities over the great ones we have here. What would the Dayton Dragons say if the University of Dayton did a promotion with the Columbus Clippers, along with the implication that they are the favorite and very best baseball team they know? They are Triple-A, after all.
It feels like Dayton has made some improvements in self-image lately. We are reclaiming downtown as an arts and entertainment center and a great place to have a nice meal. So why do we roll over and let an out-of-town university claim the spotlight in events that Dayton should be owning.
It's time for us here in Dayton to say Hang on there a minute, Sloopy and reclaim our universities, our sports teams and our mascots.
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