Fox Sports covers many Ohio State football games throughout the year, and when it does, Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt are often on the phone. Johnson has become known for his emphatic calls on the shows and is often considered one of the best at providing the power for play-by-play.
And if it’s Ohio State that’s causing a stir, Johnson has found a unique way to refer to the team: the world-famous Ohio State Buckeyes.
The state of Ohio is certainly well known in the United States. The Buckeyes’ football program keeps them mainstream, as does the school’s vast alumni network.
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But college football isn’t very big outside of Columbus, so why does Johnson refer to the Buckeyes as “world famous”? Sports news takes a look.
Why Gus Johnson calls the state of Ohio ‘world famous’
There could certainly be some people outside of the United States who consider the Buckeyes’ football program world famous, but that’s not why Johnson considers them internationally significant. It really has nothing to do with football.
It’s because of Jesse Owens.
Speaking on the Ohio State campus on Nov. 10, two days before the team’s game against Indiana, Johnson spoke about his labeling of the Buckeyes as “world famous.” He said that when Owens competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and won four gold medals, he put Ohio on the international map.
“The whole world knew about Jesse and the state of Ohio,” Johnson said. “So if you see me calling the game today and you might hear me say, ‘The world famous Ohio State University. The world famous Ohio State University.’ This is an ode to him. And we can never forget that.”
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Johnson elaborated further on broadcasting the Indiana game.
“My father has been talking about Jesse for almost as long as I could hear and what he did when the world was on the brink of war, how he won those four gold medals in Berlin in front of a bad man who promoted a bad theory of racial superiority ‘ Johnson said.
Owens, a black track and field star in Ohio State, competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics at a point when Adolf Hitler was attempting to flaunt Aryan and German supremacy on the world’s greatest sporting arena. According to ESPN, a German official said the Americans let “non-humans like Owens and other black athletes” compete in the Olympics.
At an exhibition of German and Aryan athletic superiority in Berlin, Owens won all four competitions in which he competed, winning gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump. ESPN’s Larry Schwartz wrote that Owens “single-handedly destroyed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.”
The Buckeyes football team is perhaps well known in the United States for consistently being one of the best teams in the nation. But as far as international recognition goes, it doesn’t get much bigger than what Owens did in Berlin in 1936.