(OT, apparently) The Name of the game

Submitted by gnrgoblue on August 24th, 2010 at 3:19 PM


I'm an editor and therefore predisposed to paying entirely too much attention to capitalization, so my apologies in advance: In recent years we've moved from "the Ohio State game" or simply "the game" to "The Game." I find this vaguely annoying. It was called "the game" because nothing more needed to be said. It didn't have a goofy name because it didn't need one. But by capitalizing it, we've given it a goofy name. 

I'm pretty sure this got started in the media buildup to the 2003 OSU game (the 100th meeting). A lot of reporters who hadn't paid particularly close attention previously thought it was interesting there was no dopey nickname and wrote about that. There was another surge in 2006, when I began noticing national writers beginning to capitalize "The Game" (especially in the context of debating the merits of a rematch in the national title game). In the years since, and especially in all the discussion surrounding potential divisional alignments, the capitalized form has trickled down to local media to the fans themselves and, apparently, has become the preferred format. Here on the message board it's by far the most common format. In NCAA 11, it's even called "Michigan vs. Ohio State in The Game." Just a few years ago, "Michigan vs. Ohio State" would've been sufficient to indicate that this is A Very Important Event.

At this rate, we're about two seasons from celebrating the fact that there's no trophy by creating The Non-Trophy Trophy.

Get off my lawn and all that, but nicknames are created for marketing purposes, and the OSU game needs no such help. Also, we shouldn't be taking our parlance from national media. We know more about the rivalry than they do.

I don't intend for this to attack anyone who prefers "The Game." Just making an observation and stating a preference. Feel free to disagree.



August 24th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

Agreed.  No adjustments need to be done to stay relevant in college football on the national stage.


Harvard and Yale


August 24th, 2010 at 3:30 PM ^

The Ivy League didn't want to stay relevant as football behemoths. Those schools chose their path.

Anyway, I get your point but I think, if nicknames are progress, so is corporate sponsorship, and I don't remember too many around here being fans of the proposed AT&T (?) sponsorship.


August 24th, 2010 at 3:34 PM ^

the real question is was it really necessary to capitalize Name in the thread title? By capitalizing it you gave it a goofy name...maybe I'll start a thread about it.


August 24th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

I see it more as a distinction so we all know what we're talking about. It's an abbreviation. "Are you watching the game this Saturday?" is different than "Are you watching The Game this Saturday?" It's easier than typing out "the Michigan - Ohio State rivalry game."


August 24th, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

... but I do not want to subscribe to your newsletter.  Personally, I think the nickname "grew" organically because of the proliferation of media and articles/blogs about college football.  Practically speaking, it is hard to continually refer to the "Michigan v. Ohio State" game.  It needed to be shortened.

I think it "grew" capital letters out of some type of "respect."  (See also, "The Big House," "Old '98,""TWLOCP" "The Fonz," etc.) I don't find capital letters particularly "cheesy." 

Thinking that a game that was so important that it is considered "the game" was given capital letters simply for marketing purposes is just plain cynical.  FGor example, it is REALLY weird that you think "writers" started it, but then complain it is done for marketing purposes.  Are Bill Simmons and Pat Forde looking to come up with a marketing plan for "the last game of the year between Michigan and Ohio State"?

Finally, this is not new.  Have you heard of "The Ten Year War"?  I don't find that name offensive.


Your point is interesting and very subtle, but the premise (that this is all done for greedy marketing purposes) seems unfounded.


August 24th, 2010 at 3:52 PM ^

Good point. In retrospect, I shouldn't have mentioned the marketing part because that definitely muddles my position. Still, I definitely didn't mean to imply that it's done for greedy marketing purposes, just that it's kind of goofy.

This board is turning into the RCMB with all the snark, but I suppose I am being a bit "down in front." My defense is that it's the offseason and I can't take any more idle Freep/secondary/QB/hot-seat chatter. If this board can handle another post about Xbox/PS3 online dynasties, I figured I'd be on safe ground with this.


August 24th, 2010 at 4:51 PM ^

I understand.  If your position is that you find the capitalization to be "cheesy" or "goofy" I think I disagree. 


Nicknames are not, in and of themselves, cheesy or goofy.


I think nicknames are sometimes necessary and also sometimes a sign of affection/affiliation.

While I think that "overly gimmicky" nicknames, nicknames that try to show off wit rather than identify, and nicknames created by marketing departments are all usually cheesy, that is not the case here.

I don't think that this particular nickname suffers from cheesiness simply because it is a nickname.  If your only problem is that "the game" is now a nickname "The Game" it seems like you are arguing that ALL nicknames are cheesy... becuase that is all that happened....the exact same lower-case description became a "nickname."


All nicknames are not cheesy.  Just ask my "Grandma."


August 24th, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

Yeah, my position is that all nicknames for rivalries are cheesy (the two that were vaguely cool--Florida/Georgia and Oklahoma/Texas--have officially changed) but I never thought to care about it until I realized that Michigan/OSU now has one. Still, you and bigmc6000 have persuaded me that it's not so bad.

And yes, I also realize that clucking about capitalization makes me a schoolmarm, and the gnrgoblue of 10 years ago hangs his head in shame. I promise my posts will be more relevant to, you know, football, in 11 days.


August 24th, 2010 at 3:45 PM ^

It's really just to clarify between "the game between the rivals high schools down the road" and "The Game."  You can say "the game" to anyone in Ohio or Michigan and unless you audibly capitalize The and/or Game most responses are going to be "between whom?"   I also don't think it's a nickname.  A nickname, at least to me, is something like "The Border War" or "The Apple Cup" or the "The Egg Bowl" - those are nicknames.  Calling the OSU-Michigan game The Game isn't really a nickname, it's just putting the emphasis on how important and massive the rivalry is (unless you're Jim Delany or Dave Brandon in which case all you care about is money apparently).  Personally I prefer The Game as it signifies the importance of it not just being another, lowercase, game.


August 24th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

Not sure it's worth a thread, but I agree with the OP.  It's always been the Ohio State game to me.  I'm not sure when I first saw it referenced as The Game, but that moniker has certainly been given a boost by the real or perceived decimation of the rivalry.  I don't like it, not because it's marketing or cheesy or whatever, but because the name is taken.  The Game, for decades, has referred to Harvard-Yale.  I always thought Cal-Stanford calling their rivalry The Big Game was a ripoff on Harvard-Yale.  Calling Michigan-OSU The Game is more offensive than that -- it's outright plagerism.


August 24th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

Since I think about half of the "named" rivalries are good, I'll throw out "Class Warfare".  I think it works on several levels and OSU fans do see us generally as blue bloods vs. blue collars.


August 24th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

are contrived.  Some have/had real meaning.

My two favorite rivalry nicknames are:

The world's largest outdoor cocktail party.   &   The Red River shootout.

I refuse to use the contrived version of the Red River shootout.


August 24th, 2010 at 5:33 PM ^

If we're really keeping with the times, it should be TheGame.  Or perhaps theGame.  Or perhaps the.game.

So many options, but I'll reiterate -- The Game refers to Harvard-Yale.  Just because 98% of the county no longer cares about it doesn't mean that we can co-opt the name.


August 24th, 2010 at 4:59 PM ^

I think it's fine all capitalized. Everyone knows which game you're talking about without any other desciptors.

Like The Pill. It's great if only because you know exactly which pill I'm talking about.


August 24th, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

I also noticed the gradual acceptance of the name, which I first heard on ESPN early in this decade. But I don't have a problem with it... as rivalry names go, there are a lot worse.

Just be happy we're not playing for the Toledo Strip Trophy or something.


August 24th, 2010 at 7:15 PM ^

I'll take "The Game" anytime.  It differentiates it from the other eleven without giving it a nickname that actually would be "cheesy.  I must admit, though, that it would probably be more appropriate in Ohio, where some people think it is the only game they play all season.