There are just three sports in the state of Ohio – High school football, college football, and professional football. To say this state loves football is to say Donald Trump has a bad haircut.
In a city like Canton and it’s surrounding towns, high school football dominates the area year-round except for one weekend a year – Hall of Fame Weekend.
McKinley High School and its Fawcett Field sit right next door to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The stadium is the setting for this year’s HOF enshrinement ceremony and it would have held the Hall of Fame Game. Fawcett was built in 1939 for $500,000 and could originally seat 15,000 people. The stadium can currently accommodate 22,400 people. Now this is a high school field.
About 20 minutes away, McKinley High’s arch rival, Massillon Washington High School, is nationally known for its high school football team. Their stadium, Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, holds 18,000 people and has an astro turf field. At every home game, a tiger cub sits on the sidelines in honor of the team’s mascot. When baby boys are born at Massillon hospital, they leave the hospital with a mini football. 23 former Massillon players have gone on to play in the NFL.
When McKinley and Massillon play each other every year, it’s the only high school game that features odds in Las Vegas.
Football in this part of the country means everything.
That’s why the NFL Hall of Fame is here in middle America.
The NFL, formally the American Professional Association was founded in Canon in 1920. Reps from the 11 teams met the automobile showroom of the owner of the Canton Bulldogs, Ralph Hay. (The Bulldogs were the first team to win back-to-back NFL Championships.
Needless to say, when you step into Ohio, pigskin fills the air.
My first visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was captivating. I highly recommend a stop in Canton for this experience. I don’t want to give away too much, but here are a few pictures from the visit.