LeBron James is coming back to Cleveland four years after leaving his home-state team the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.
The famed basketball player announced in a Sports Illustrated essay that he has decided to come home to northeast Ohio, where he grew up and first played in the NBA.
He wrote: “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realise that four years ago. I do now.”
He got it right. Northeast Ohio, and the state as a whole, certainly is bigger than basketball.
Check out these 11 reasons why Ohio is a shining example of U.S. geography.
1. Ohioans become president.
Ohio and Virginia like to bicker about which state can claim the most U.S. presidents. If you consider birthplace, Virginia wins with eight. But looking at primary residence, Ohio comes out on top. Childhood is what really counts anyway.
No fewer than seven presidents call Ohio their home state. In chronological order, William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding all grew up or made their lives in the Buckeye State.
2. And when they don’t, Ohio picks the president.
Not unrelated to the last point, Ohio, known as a major swing state, plays an important role in national elections every four years.
Democrats almost always take California and New York, with their 55 and 29 electoral votes, respectively. And, naturally, 38 from Texas go to the Republicans. That’s why Florida, 29, and Ohio, 18, matter so much.
3. Ohioans love to swear.
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According to rigorous analysis of phone calls (probably with cable companies), Ohioans swear more than any other states’ residents. Conducted in 2013 by Marchex, the data examined 60,000 recorded phone conversations over 12 months.
So this might not seem like a positive — but it is. Swearing is f—ing good for you. It helps people express pain and frustration, making us healthier and less violent. Dropping an f-bomb here and there could also help you at work. A 2007 study out of the U.K. found that swearing creates solidarity and bonding among coworkers and can signal authenticity and leadership to higher-ups.
4. Ohio always denounced slavery.
In 1802, 63 years before the 13th Amendment, Ohio’s Constitution outlawed slavery. And even when including a clause to allow amendments, the creators specifically wrote Ohio would never, ever allow involuntarily servitude.
On top of that, Ohio acted a crucial catalyst in the abolitionist movement in the North. John Brown, an abolitionist hanged for his radical beliefs, lived in Hudson, Ohio. Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the quintessential novel decrying slavery, resided in Cincinnati.
The state also contains many significant stops on the Underground Railroad, including St. John’s Cathedral (shown above), also known as Station Hope, the last stop for fleeing slaves in Cleveland before reaching the ferry to Canada.
Many believe John Mercer Langston, from Oberlin, to be the first publicly elected black official.
5. Pro football was born in Ohio.
Canton, Ohio, is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a reason — the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded there in 1920.
Before the NFL, pro football was a bit of a mess. The teams weren’t regulated enough and loyalty was lacking because players could jump from team to team based on whoever offered the highest salary.
So a few team representatives got together and held a meeting in a Canton auto showroom to establish the league. The NFL eventually grew to become a multibillion-dollar powerhouse and the most lucrative sports league in the world.
And the Pro Football Hall Of Fame will soon be even bigger and better than it is now. It’s undergoing a two-year $US27 million expansion and renovation as part of its 50th anniversary celebration.
6. Ohio produces prominent athletes.
LeBron James is far from the only famous athlete to get his talents from Ohio (even though he rudely took them somewhere else). Two-time World Series champion Roger Clemens was born in Ohio, and NFL quarterback Brady Quinn was one of the top high-school football players the country while he was a student in Dublin, Ohio.
Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers of all time, was born in a Columbus suburb and picked up the sport there.
7. Rock ‘n’ roll got its name there.
Cleveland is the rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world, and it lobbied hard for the hall of fame when music-industry leaders were choosing a home for the museum.
And it makes sense that the Rock Hall would find a home in Cleveland. Without well-known Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, we might not have the term “rock ‘n’ roll” at all. Freed first coined the phrase as a way to describe the music he started playing on the radio in 1951.
On top of that, Cleveland radio station WMMS is credited with breaking major acts such as David Bowie, Roxy Music, Rush, and Bruce Springsteen.
8. Several famous musical acts hail from the Buckeye State.
If you enjoy listening to the Black Keys, the Isley Brothers, Devo, Kid Cudi, John Legend, or Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, you have Ohio to thank. All these artists either grew up in Ohio or got their starts there.
Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale met at Kent State University, where they were both art students, and formed Devo in 1976. John Legend grew up in Springfield, Ohio, and Kid Cudi started rapping around his neighbourhood when he was 12.
9. Ohioans made history in space.
Ohioans have contributed significantly to U.S. space missions — they have flown aboard most of NASA’s major human space flight programs.
John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, and Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, were both from Ohio. The first American woman to walk in space, Kathryn D. Sullivan, is from Ohio.
On a related note, Ohio is called the Birthplace of Aviation (as our licence plates show) because the Wright brothers grew up in Dayton.
10. Without Ohio, we wouldn’t know the joy of hot dogs.
Many historians credit Niles, Ohio, resident Harry Mosley Stevens with inventing the hot dog, which he called “red hot dachshund sausages.” Initially, they weren’t even popular because people thought they contained real dog meat. But hot dogs soon became one of America’s favourite snacks.
Minor technicality: Stevens may have moved to New York City before actually placing the dog in the bun. But we count him and his delicious creation as Ohio born-and-bred.
11. Speaking of food — Swensons.
This drive-in burger joint, founded in 1934, has only seven locations across the state. Patrons just have to flash their headlights, and the waiters will run out with a menu, ready to take their order.
Voted as having the best burger in America in 1999 by Forbes, Swensons is a northeast Ohio staple. If you’ve never had a Galley Boy, the signature menu item, we mourn for you. It’s a double cheeseburger with mayo and barbecue sauce — for only $US3.15. Potato teasers, essentially tater tots with cheese and jalapeno inside, are worthy of a trip themselves, too.
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