Not content with having Urban Meyer teach a class on leadership and character, Ohio State is upping its game on stupid ideas.
I’m sorry, that would be THE Ohio State University.
Ohio State has filed an application to trademark the word “the,” which just happens to be the most commonly used word in the English language. What’s next? Charging campus guests for the air they breathe? Imposing a sunshine tax for games at The Horseshoe? Asking anyone with a buckeye tree in their yard for royalties?
“Like other institutions, Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks,” spokesman Chris Davey told The Columbus Dispatch.
The trademark application is for the use of “The” when it’s used in conjunction with “Ohio State University,” formalizing what athletes, NFL players in particular, have been trying to make happen for years. They will proudly announce they’re from “THE Ohio State” or “THE Ohio State University,” with an emphasis on the “The.”
As if there is some other Ohio State or Ohio State University that is creating great confusion, and we are all crying out for some way to distinguish them.
There is not, of course. When you say Ohio State, it’s pretty much a given you’re referring to the school with 66,000-plus students that’s located in the state capitol and has one of the most iconic programs in college football.
Members of Ohio State Buckeyes marching band on the field prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. (Photo: Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)
Ohio State is so ubiquitous, in fact, that if you’d say “Ohio state governor,” most people would assume the school has a governor and not realize you’re referring to the state’s actual governor.
Yes, there is an Ohio University, but if either school is suffering by comparison, it’s the smaller (by half) one some 80 miles southeast of Columbus. Besides, Michigan and Michigan State have managed to co-exist just fine for more than 150 years now, and they’re even in the same athletic conference.
No, this is pure pretentiousness by Ohio State, which apparently thinks putting “the” in front of its name proves that it is vastly superior to all other schools. Sure, alums and Ohio State fans will love it, and will no doubt be snatching up sweatshirts, hats and anything else with a “THE” on it.
To everyone else, however, it’s a source of endless hilarity — at Ohio State’s expense. It might be a sound business decision, though even that is up for debate, but it makes Ohio State look smug. And just a tad insecure, as Ohio University was quick to point out Wednesday.
“Good morning from THE first university in the state of Ohio,” the school said on its official Twitter account, followed by a smirking emoji.
Good morning from THE first university in the state of Ohio. ? pic.twitter.com/oG4Jvb7JpP
It doesn’t help that the “THE” gear Ohio State is already selling looks, to put it nicely, silly. Like proclaiming yourself a proud member of a club no one else is interested in joining. Nice for you, but …
Also, if someone doesn't know the backstory, they're going to see a THE hat and wonder what the heck it means. Or what prompted your intense love for definite articles.
Most mind-boggling in all of this is that Ohio State probably spent a lot of time, money and effort looking into this trademark — and still decided it was a good idea.
In fact, it's one of the worst ideas Ohio State has had in a while. Make that THE worst idea.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
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