While watching the ill-fated Oregon Ducks play against Ohio State, I noticed that the Ohio players had stickers on their helmets that looked like marijuana leaves (or perhaps atomic symbols?). Now, my husband gets irritated when I ask "stupid questions," but I think he just didn't know the answer. Do you know what they mean?
— G.E., Ashland
Based on the outcome of that game, if those Ohio State players were operating under the influence of any drugs, we seriously doubt it was marijuana. They didn't seem to be particularly mellow, from what we could tell. (Hey, did you hear this one? How do you make dough for Duck cookies? Put the Ducks in a bowl and beat them for three hours.)
Anyway, the answer to your question is found in the nickname for the Ohio State athletic teams: the Buckeyes. The symbols you saw on those helmets were buckeye leaves, which come from the buckeye tree, which is the Ohio state tree. The Buckeye's mascot, Brutus, is a buckeye nut (and to think some people laugh at Ducks and Beavers!).
According to an article on the ESPN website, the idea of the helmet stickers came from legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who first gave them out in 1968. A player can earn a buckeye sticker by making an outstanding play or having an outstanding game or, we suppose, by winning a national championship. Sigh.
Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.