At this point in my life there are very few firsts, but just last week, there it was. I was at an Ohio State football game where there was an emergency weather situation. I have been attending games at Ohio Stadium for way longer than I’d like to say, rarely missing any home game. It is the first time I have ever been directed to seek cover during a game.
What a crazy thing that was. It was a hot day. I mean it was humid and 85 degrees and the Buckeyes were doing well in the home opener. The Oregon St. Beavers were clearly not up to it that day and the Bucks were ready, even though we didn’t have our coach, Urban Meyer, on the sidelines. Near the end of halftime my husband, Dan, and I had just been talking about doing something we almost never do, leave early. We were ahead by at least three touchdowns. It was obviously going to be a huge score at the end of the day. Because it was so hot, we planned to leave sometime in the third quarter.
We sit in the lower part of the upper deck called C-Deck. The view is great from there but, of course, there is no shade.
Halftime was almost over and the sun was beating down hard, but some clouds seemed to be moving in – nothing too serious we thought. I tried to get the radar on my phone, but communication is really tough in the stadium. There are more than 100,000 people trying to use the Internet all at the same time and it takes forever to send or receive anything in most places in the stadium.
Then the announcement appeared on the giant screen – “We have an important announcement.” I thought it was just about someone receiving an award or some large gift being given to the University. Oh no, it continued – “We have a serious weather situation approaching the area and we would advise you take cover immediately. The game will be suspended for 30 minutes. (The weather delay eventually lasted for about an hour.) Please proceed calmly to an exit.” They didn’t have to say that more than once to me.
Our seats are very close to the exit. We went down a few rows and were almost out of there when the rain started. As we were going out, I looked up and saw many above us putting on ponchos to stay in their seats. Others were returning with food and kids. What? Didn’t they hear the announcement? I was out of there.
Since we are up high, it is about a 10-minute trip down the stairs, but luckily we grabbed the elevator. Still we weren’t quite sure what this weather emergency entailed.
Soon we were down on the ground floor planning to watch the game on the wall TVs. However because play was suspended, there was nothing on the TVs. As we waited for the rain to stop, water was coming into the stadium on the ground level.
We started to work our way around the inside of the stadium to be closer to our parking spot when we finally exited. It was hot and there were a lot of people. I mean they were everywhere. There was no room to move in some spots. Try to imagine 100,000 people, except for the crazies who stayed out in the rain in their ponchos, crammed into the area under the stadium.
It’s an area I knew well. I was a member of a drill team while at OSU and we practiced under the stadium all year long. Sometimes it was really cold under there. Now, that would be considered some sort of cruel punishment, but we were tough, I guess.
Rather than try to fight the crowd, we searched for some seats, not knowing how long this was really going to last. Of course, there were no real seats, but I found a place on the stairs where I saw what to me was the oddest thing of the day. The man sitting behind me on the steps in shorts had obviously just had knee surgery – a joint replacement, I suspect. He had a large incision down the middle of his knee, which due to swelling was literally three or four times the size of a normal knee.
He had his leg stretched out straight and explained to me he wasn’t able to bend it well. It looked painful and I cannot figure out how he got to the stadium or how he was getting around inside. I didn’t see a wheelchair, but he must’ve had some kind of help. I think if my knee was that bad I would stay home and watch it on TV.
That whole crazy event lasted at least an hour and all the area around the stadium received two to three inches of rain in that short time with thunder and lightning. We decided not to go back to our wet seats and left the stadium. The Buckeyes were in good hands, however, winning 77 to 31 after play resumed. It was a good start, but I think our defense needs some work.
We watched the end of the game at an establishment that serves adult beverages and that gave us a chance to dry out! We are fans always … Go Bucks!
(Melanie Behrens – email@example.com)
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