Get on the Blue Jackets bandwagon, KSU

Thomas Gallick

The Columbus Blue Jackets have clinched a playoff spot.

It feels so good to see that in print somewhere other than my Oprah Winfrey-style dream journal.

After a shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, the Jackets now no longer hold the distinction of being the only current NHL team to never earn a postseason berth. We Jackets backers have waited since 2000 for this, and we no longer have to face the scorn and apathy of an underappreciative Northeast.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Columbus, home to no professional sports franchises for most of my childhood. Everyone rooted for Ohio State football and an array pro franchises from surrounding cities (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc.).

Needless to say, once the Buckeyes ended their season on the gridiron, the city really didn’t have any one team to follow. Then in 1997 the NHL granted Columbus a hockey franchise, the city’s first entry into the realm of the big four professional sports (sorry, Major League Soccer).

It was a magical moment even for hockey neophytes like myself. I may not have completely understood the concepts of offsides or icing at the time, but I realized Columbus-area folk now had a pro team to call our own.

Were the Jackets mediocre and occasionally downright terrible in those first few seasons? Of course, but Columbus residents held out hope for a brighter future, one where the team could make the playoffs, and more importantly, beat the hated Detroit Red Wings once in a while.

The dream has come true, even if it took the team longer than any of the franchises that came into the league with the Blue Jackets. And I can wear my Jackets hat around campus with pride.

Not that I didn’t wear the Jackets’ cap with pride before. In fact, it would be unusual to see me on campus without one, or another piece of Blue Jackets’ apparel.

What else was I going to use to showcase my love of the state capital and my home city?

A Columbus Crew soccer jersey? Please, a winning soccer team draws less recognition than a middling hockey team.

A Columbus Clippers’ cowbell? I think the fact that our minor league baseball team rang cowbells in the first place, while funny, does not make me want to draw attention to the team.

An Ohio State T-shirt? Look, I still love Buckeye football and will occasionally still wear Buckeye getup, but I have to accept the fact that I go to another Division I school that competes on the same level in football . technically.

But now I can wear my Jackets cap with pride for not only my hometown, but also the team.

Before, I had the “gee, the boys are really trying” pride. Now I have the “my team is in the playoffs and will rip out your heart if given the opportunity” pride we all crave as sports fans.

And now that the team is competitive, the average sports fan in Northeast Ohio can feel free to jump on the Jackets bandwagon. Just because I was there from the beginning doesn’t mean I’ll begrudge any newcomers from joining late.

It’s a team the whole state could, and should, get behind. And it would be nice to see more Jackets jerseys than Penguin or Red Wing jerseys on campus for once.

Contact assistant sports editor Thomas Gallick at [email protected].