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Attention Ohio State students: stop jumping into Mirror Lake before Michigan games, you are only hurting yourself

Nov 21, 2012, 5:58 PM EDT

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One of Ohio State’s many crazy customs involves a collective jump into a freezing lake every year before the Michigan game, a tradition that can turn dangerous because the quantity of students, poor condition of the lake, frigid weather and excessive alcohol consumption is basically just a big old cocktail of possible hypothermia.

This reminds me of the ‘polar bear plunges’ have become all the rage around America, as uncles and fathers have been waking up at odd hours to jump into freezing pools for many years now. Nobody knows why it happens but I’m going to blame a condition I’d like to call ‘Unnecessarily proving manly mettle to bewildered, sleepy children’ as they tote around this hypothetical ‘polar bear plunge’ merit badge of bragging, clueless to the fact that everybody just wants them to shut up and put on a shirt.

Why do people want to jump into freezing bodies of water? How is this going to help your team win? We may never know.

Here’s Ohio State’s letter of pleading, from a mysterious ‘Dr. J’:

We have so many ways of showing our Buckeye Spirit, from O-H-I-O to events such as Convocation when you first arrived on campus to the Candlelight Ceremony just before spring commencement.

Clearly, Ohio State has many wonderful traditions. The Mirror Lake jump is not one of them. And I strongly encourage you not to participate.

The problem with the jump is that it’s dangerous. The water and the air are cold, meaning hypothermia is a significant risk. The Lake is too shallow for diving, and being pushed into the water could mean a serious injury. The bottom is rocky, leading to cuts. Garbage also accumulates underwater, and you don’t even want to think about what you might be stepping on.

And if these concerns weren’t enough, far too many students use the occasion to drink alcohol to excess, increasing the danger to themselves and everyone around them exponentially.

I’m sorry to risk sounding authoritative, but there is great risk that someone is going to get hurt.

The combination of cold weather, alcohol, wet clothing, and the slippery lake bottom can lead to lots of bad things: hypothermia, frostbite, upper respiratory infections, sprains, and broken bones among others.

My strongest advice is to skip the jump. There are no classes the next day, so take the opportunity to spend extra time with friends, family, and loved ones. I promise that your Ohio State experience will not be diminished for missing this. And the football team doesn’t need you to jump in order to beat Michigan.

There are plenty of other ways to show your spirit. The Beat Michigan website lists a number of events and activities.

But, if you insist on jumping, at least take precautions. Don’t drink to excess, wear shoes, don’t dive or push anyone into the water, and get out and dry off quickly. But again, even being careful doesn’t eliminate the risks. You are still putting yourself and others in possible jeopardy, and everyone would be better off without this dangerous activity.

Let’s celebrate Ohio State’s rich and beautiful traditions. This event is neither, and I encourage you to direct your enthusiasm elsewhere.

Dr. J

Javaune Adams-Gaston, PhD
Vice President for Student Life

And, as a bonus, here’s a video of “Brutus”, the Ohio State mascot, in a peculiar video where he attempts feats of science and beats himself in the head for concentration purposes.

Here’s Ohio State’s Yearly Email Imploring Students Not To Get Drunk And Jump Into Mirror Lake Before The Michigan Game [SportsGrid]