Warning: Not your typical travel blog post. I’m just documenting my history.
For the first time since the 1960’s Cleveland, Ohio is seeing an era of greatness. First, there was Miocic. Although I didn’t see the fight, he has been the flicker of the flame of hope in this town, igniting the fire under this city’s rear-end. He’s a tough guy representing everything Cleveland is about: grit, work, determination, and excellence.
Then, come May, my husband and I became season ticket holders for the Lake Erie Monsters hockey team. It was an instant whirlwind as we watched them finish out their season and breeze through the playoffs – trekking their way to the Calder Cup. And on that warm June Saturday night Oliver Bjorkstrand hit the game wining goal in the longest overtime I’ve ever experienced in game 4 of the finals against the Bears, 19,000+ of my best friends (aka my hockey family) and I cheered, jumped, cried, and celebrated together. I couldn’t believe it. I was in the arena, 22 rows from the ice and I couldn’t believe it. Was this really happening?
Then in June, after a relatively rocky season studded with controversy and rumor, the Cleveland Cavaliers did the seemingly impossible. They gave us, not only our 3rd championship this year, but our first NBA championship. The city shut down.. In a good way. 1.3 million people came together in happiness and harmony to celebrate their accomplishments this season. No violence. No mass shootings. Even police, yes Cleveland police, were happy and partaking in the festivities.
As I sat in my office in the heart of downtown Cleveland on June 22nd, surrounded by a sea of Wine & Gold love, I wondered how is it that sports can effect a city so much? Now, I know that this post isn’t a conventional travel post for a travel blog; but Cleveland has traveled great distances in the recent years economically, culturally, socially, and entertainment-wise. I’ve been fortunate enough to have moved here in 2014 to see the beginning of this epic adventure and witnessing it has been overwhelming and absolutely exciting and being welcomed in this city life family.
When I used to visit Cleveland, a few years ago, there were hardly any bars downtown, people didn’t really live downtown, and no one stuck around after games or events. It was a boring city drowning in its own pity party. For those of you who aren’t 216 residents, Cleveland has always appeared dirty, industrial, flea ridden, and glum…Losers. That was the stereotype perceived by many outsiders wondering why residents of the CLE were still hanging around this rotten city. You wouldn’t recognize this city now – especially if you’re still going off that old stereotype. The buzz here is electric and is spreading like wildfire.
I’m not trying to say Cleveland’s positive growth is built on the basis of sports teams, but it sure isn’t hurting things. I feel that the people of this city is tired of being sad all the time – tired of “there’s always next year” for EVERYTHING – and is, more or less, being the change they wish to see in Cleveland.
As Lebron has said many a time “[In Northeast Ohio] Nothing is given. Everything is earned”. Those words have never been more true.