Ohio State Uses Tone-Deaf "Silence" Ad to Promote Game Between Two Schools that Silenced Victims in Favor of Football


  • Twitter | Ohio State University

There's a lot to unpack with the Ohio State University "Silence" ad being used to promote the football game between the Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions this weekend. The ad in question shows a frenzy of words and symbols in white/off-white tones with “Silence” as its tag line, and an image of receiver Austin Mack putting his finger to his lips.

The Ohio State Football official Twitter page first posted the image with "Silence The White Noise" as the tagline, and followed up with a similar version of the ad that could be used as a background.

White noise can describe a number of audio sensations, but Merriam-Webster includes a definition stating, "meaningless or distracting commotion, hubbub, or chatter." Unless you're living under a rock, the only "white noise" surrounding Ohio State University Football has been about head coach Urban Meyer, and his inability to speak up on two separate occasions after hearing about domestic violence allegations against his assistant coach, Zach Smith.

Meyer then spent weeks staying silent about Courtney Smith's name, staying silent about the abuse she endured and staying silent about the truth of what he knew.

The Buckeyes only went three games without their head coach, who was given a mind-numbingly tame punishment for his complicit silence to protect Zach Smith and discredit Courtney Smith. Important to note that the athlete featured in the ad, Austin Mack, is a wide receiver.

The coach of wide receivers? Zach Smith.

On top of the scandal with Urban Meyer, Ohio State University is also in the midst of a lawsuit from former male wrestlers who claim the university ignored their complaints about sexual abuse at the hands of team physician, Richard Strauss, from the late 1970s to the 1990s. The lawsuit gained national attention when Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a former OSU wrestling coach, was named as someone who remained silent about the abuse.

The cherry on top of this tone-deaf sundae, however, is who Ohio State will be facing on Saturday.

Back in 2011, a grand jury report was released containing testimony that Jerry Sandusky, assistant football coach at Penn State for 32 years (including 23 years as defensive coordinator), had sexually abused eight boys over a period of at least 15 years. The number of victims later increased to 10, and officials at Penn State were accused of staying silent, and reportedly failing to notify law enforcement about the series of abuse. Sandusky was found guilty in 2012 on 45 counts and will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The "white noise" ad was meant to combat the Penn State crowd's tradition of wearing all white to give a "whiteout" crowd appearance during the game, but it's concerning that the marketing team of a Big 10 University thought the "silence" aspect was a good idea, given the history of both of the teams involved.

As of publication, Ohio State has not made any sort of apology or acknowledgement of how grossly inappropriate this ad could be interpreted, despite the overwhelming amount of people blowing up their social media feeds telling OSU to take it down.

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