Progress in a promise.
It all began on January 16th when I started an online petition at Change.org to get Ohio State to retire the number of their leading scorer in men’s basketball, Dennis Hopson. I honestly didn’t realize what we would be up against or what exactly we were going to do. I had a plan to hit twitter hard and round-up as many people I knew would know who “Hop” was and help accomplish our mission. I had NO trouble in that department.
There are many people far and wide who know who he his and what he achieved at THE Ohio State University but there even more who needed reminded. It seemed, though, as if the University itself needed to be reminded of the man who has held the all time scoring record for an astonishing 25 years. That, to go along with the single season scoring mark that may never be broken and his perch atop the steals ladder until one of his best friends, Jay Burson, broke it. And let’s not forget the first triple/double in history at tOSU.
Our journey began with the petition and continued with getting T-shirts on the Buckeye Nuthouse for the recent Illinois game. Fund raising at an amazing pace on Monday when it was realized we wouldn’t have enough funding to purchase said T’s. Several twitter friends who every time they tweeted you saw them use Jeremy Birmingham’s hashtag #Hop2TheRafters. After the Illinois game and the Nuthouse wearing the T’s Tuesday, we saw our best efforts being rewarded with numerous new signatures on the petition. Prominent radio and TV and even newspaper from Columbus was talking about it and finally giving it the publicity it deserved.
And now, it seems as if we’ve made a difference. Today, in Bob Hunter’s Commentary in the Columbus Dispatch, we read that the University has decided to stop retiring numbers altogether. While this may seem to be the opposite of our goal, Hunter goes on to write that this is due to the University realizing that they have more deserving alumni than are currently being honored, and need to find another way to acknowledge them.
Smith said the school will find other ways to honor its best athletes. The precise manner hasn’t been determined, but Smith said in basketball that it would likely mean hanging a player’s jersey at the top of the arena with his or her number.
That decision, especially at a place like Ohio State, also has a logistical strategy to it as well.
“We will have recognition platforms depending on the sport,” Smith said. “If you’re talking specifically basketball, it will probably be in the banner recognition area where their jersey will be up with their number. But the number won’t be retired. You get to a point where you don’t have enough numbers.”
I’ll be the first to admit, I wanted his jersey retired. I wanted to see this to its end with #Hop2TheRafters and his recognition as being one of the all time greats there. Truth is, I cannot be happier for what Gene Smith is saying will be done. However, those of us who are passionate about this will not stop until the promise comes to fruition and Dennis is recognized in the rafters of Value City Arena.
In drawing the University’s attention to this issue, not only have we all accomplished what we’ve set out to do, but we are able to say we accomplished what Dennis Hopson really wanted. All along, Dennis has been gracious in letting us bring this attention to him. He has been steadfast in his belief that once we accomplished this, he himself wanted to make sure that all Buckeye Greats from THE Ohio State University got what they deserved and that is recognition in the rafters.
Dennis Hopson is the most humble person I have ever met that was a huge star on the basketball court at the university that I love. He is also a good friend now and will be for the rest of our days. That’s the kind of human being he is and always will be. His jersey should see the rafters now, and even if it means others can still wear it, it doesn’t matter, we will be able to look up and see a #32 with Hopson on it and know we all had a hand in it.