What is the origin of the Ohio chant?

Updated: 10/21/2022
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14y ago

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The original chant was done by sailors in WWII aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) to express their unbridled enthusiasm for the Ohio State University while the Lexington patrolled to block enemy raids in the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle in 1942. The chant began as O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat along with the accompanying arm motions that are now familiar to Buckeyes everywhere. Several of those original sailors later enrolled at Ohio State as undergrads in the fall of 1946. One of these sailors was Matthew Sidley.

As a student, Sidley later joined the Ohio State University Cheerleading squad as a sophomore in 1947 and was a regular on the squad for all of the Ohio State home games. On November 1, 1947 the Buckeyes were losing at home to the lowly Indiana Hoosiers by a score of 7-0. The home crowd was mostly quiet as the Buckeyes were enroute to a disappointing 2-6-1 record so Matthew decided to teach the spectators the O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E chant to get the crowd, and hopefully the team, back into the game.

He ran from section to section teaching the chant one section at a time until he had covered each section of Ohio Stadium. The chant moved smoothly through O-H-I-O but stumbled going through S-T-A-T-E. After several attempts to get the whole chant complete, the students decided to just chant O-H-I-O after becoming confused by the number of letters in the chant. Senior Linebacker Dick Flanagan later went on to say that it was a turning point in Ohio State football. Ohio State failed to make the comeback that day, but the chant has stuck ever since then and now it is a staple of the Ohio State University gameday experience.

During the 1982 football season, the cheerleaders at OSU tried to revive the original chant of O-H-I-O S-T-A-T-E during a 38-6 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. However, the Ohio State students encountered the same spelling difficulties as their predecessors.

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Q: What is the origin of the Ohio chant?
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