Sports teams. Think what you will about them, but they have the power to bring people together. This past weekend in New York we visited Tonic Bar & Restaurant in Times Square to catch the Ohio State football game. I found it by Googling “Buckeye bar New York” and figured anyplace good enough for the OSU alumni association in New York would have enough Buckeye pride for me. Several weeks ago during another trip to “the City” we tried out an overcrowded Big Ten bar on the Upper West Side, but the Penn State fans kept getting on my nerves and the Northwestern fans didn’t even finish their pitchers of beer.
Seeing a gigantic inflatable Brutus Buckeye in Times Square is sort of like stumbling upon a waterslide park in the middle of the desert. We approached the doorman and told him we didn’t have a reservation. After surveying our Buckeye necklaces and learning that we flew in from Columbus the night before, he treated us like old pals. We weaved through the massive sports bar compound and up the stairs to what can only be described as Manhattan Buckeye Utopia. The red-paneled room boasted several gargantuan screens, more inflatable Brutuses, and dozens of decked out fans. “This is just like being at home,” my boyfriend marveled.
We were seated at a busy table and immediately began shaking hands with friendly strangers in Buckeye jerseys. More people filed in, and more introductions were made. My boyfriend ordered some Woody’s Wings and we howled over the menu’s arbitrarily named items, like Eddie George Calamari and Archie Griffin Spring Rolls. The Spicy Columbus Chicken Sandwich almost caused me to choke on my Coors Light. During commercials the bar staff blasted OSU fight songs, to which everyone sang. After well executed plays, we all high-fived each other. Shouts of “O-H!” were gleefully returned with “I-O!” and rounds of beer were gifted back and forth. This is how these things are supposed to be.
We didn’t win the game. Actually, we lost to a putrid team whose record was 1 and 4. But small-town camaraderie was forged in one of the world's busiest epicenters — and that felt like a victory to me.