Cincinnati is NOT a big city. In terms of Metro area size we are ranked around 28th or so in the nation. But the country knows Cincinnati. Maybe it is the unique name, or the great people that live here. Maybe it is Skyline Chili & Montgomery Inn, or the fact that we were once a large hub for Delta. Maybe it is a little bit of all of them? My opinion? It is because of our sports.
Cincinnati is a unique city in regards to sports. You will have a very difficult, if not impossible, time naming another city where there are both NFL & MLB franchises and not one, but two very successful, big time, collegiate institutions. Most colleges thrive in markets with NFL/MLB vacuums - Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Durham, Tuscaloosa, Norman, Gainseville, etc, etc. Cincinnati breaks that mold.
Cincinnati is also VERY Catholic, and so are we. As a Cincinnati Catholic you are expected to be a Xavier fan, and since they don’t have football, a Notre Dame football fan. This is not us. I am a die-hard Cincinnati Bearcat. My wife and I both graduated from this great institution in the early 90s, and have been season ticket holders for football and basketball for nearly 20 years. The Bearcats are part of our family, and we are part of theirs. We bleed red - so does everyone else, but you get the point.
This week all eyes will be on Cincinnati once-again. It is March Madness in January. Rivalry week - It is time for the annual slug-fest that we lovingly call the CrossTown Shootout - Xavier v. Cincinnati. Two schools separated by less than 5 miles, and two or three spots in the top 25, battling for the title of King of the Queen City.
Did I tell you I hate this game? I hate the division it creates. I hate that in order for my team to win, my friends team has to lose. I hate that families are divided. I hate that the city is divided. Rivalries are fun games to watch, as long as they are not MY rivalries.
Maybe I am getting soft as I grown older and wiser, but the young me loved this game. I loved (or hated) the last second game winner. I loved the Huggins/Gillen battles. I loved the importance the city placed on the event. I loved it all until a few years ago when the game erupted into a brawl on the court. It just kinda ruined it all for me. It made me realize that the fans, my family, my friends, we were all taking it a little too seriously. It is just a game, and it is only one game that really has little to no impact on each team’s respective season.
While I no longer enjoy this game the way I did when I was young and dumb, I will still be there rooting on my team. I will not overly gloat ( key word is overly) if we win, and I will not cry if we lose. Either way it goes I am a Bearcat, I will always be a Bearcat. You can root for the other guys and we can still be friends - even on Thursday night!