What Makes a Rivalry?

Fans Kevin Cline

Photos courtesy of Kevin Cline Photography

As a life-long athlete, sports have always been my object of affection.  Be it friendly competition, or detested, passionate dislike for an opponent, sports exude a thrill and passion infecting to the human soul.  But as a Duck fan, I am beginning to forget what the word rivalry means.  Are teams supposed to exchange wins and losses?  If one hypothetical team — let’s call it ‘Team O’ – beats another team — let’s call it ‘Team W’ — say…seven, eight, or nine straight times by double digits in football, can we really call it a rivalry until Team W shakes it up a bit?

Krebiel Photography

Four straight BCS appearances says no one beats the Ducks on a regular basis.

I have been wondering about these questions in my years as a Duck fan, while listening to older, vintage Ducks talk about the youthful, modern and less-seasoned Oregon students and fans.  The elders speak of Beavers and Huskies with a hatred and malice of past experiences that I can only equate to a National Title loss to Auburn and an opening loss to LSU.

Gary Breedlove Photography

Mariota will keep Oregon fans comfortable this season.

As a decade-old Duck fan, as opposed to a quarter or half-century follower, I only have memories of whopping the rodents and canines back to Pop Warner.  I don’t hate the Beavers because, well, I’ve never had to.  I have always been on top against the Pac, and as a student I’ve been to four straight BCS bowl games.  Call me spoiled, but my rivals are the teams that pose a threat (Stanford), embarrassed my team (Boise State), or couldn’t even be a good winner (LSU).

Forgive me for my ignorance since I am a ‘newb,’ but this is just what I have experienced.  While I fully understand the rivalries with the Beavers and Huskies of old — and honestly I don’t care much for the mutts — I have always just brushed them off, thrown up the ‘O’, and celebrated another dominating performance as all college kids do — with a nice glass of…. milk.  I long for the day that the Huskies can make it a game.

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Brandon Gruber

Brandon Gruber

Brandon is a senior at The University of Oregon majoring in Film Studies and minoring in Communications. Brandon has been a Duck fan for ten years since he moved from southern California to Salem, Oregon, and quickly realized the Ducks were the missing piece in his life. A Pac-12 fan since birth, much of his family attended UCLA and has since converted all of them to the Quack Attack. Brandon interned for the Statesman Journal covering the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and hopes to work for the Pac-12 in the near future. He also hopes to see the "Flying-V" formation played out on the football field in the fall of 2013. Brandon would love your feedback on any and all articles. Tweet me: @BrandonGruber

  • Brandon, you describe yourself as a spoiled Duck fan I’d sort of agree. But in your defense, you are a product of your environment. You haven’t been exposed to the two decades of drubbings at the hands of the huskies in the 70’s and 80’s. You haven’t been exposed to the insufferable arrogance of their fans for two decades after that. You haven’t been exposed to Autzen being filled to over flowing with 50% huskies and 50% Duck fans. ( in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s we were lucky to get 25000 fans in autzen, you could sit anywhere you wanted). you haven’t been exposed to the Husky band marching up and down Autzen making ours look like a kazoo band.

    As I said, you’re a product of your environment, and while you’ve been a duck, it’s been only highs, no lows.

    But without lows, it’s extremely difficult to really appreciate the highs, because you think that’s the norm. It’s not!
    I’m loving this time as a 40 year Duck supporter because I never for the life of me thought our program would reach these levels of success. (thanks uncle Phil & aunt Penny).

    Brandon, enjoy this while it lasts to it’s fullest, because sports and dominating winning programs are cyclical…what goes up must come down at some point.

    • DUCKS70

      Brandon,

      I wish you a VERY long life in which you NEVER experience ANYTHING even remotely resembling a rivalry with either of those MOST DETESTABLE schools…

      …or any school for that matter.

      And, I hope it comes to pass that that does remain, or turn to be true in any and all sports that any of you, or I, or any Duck fan holds dear.

  • ducky1010

    The day I am looking forward to, and hope to see in my lifetime, is when Oregon Football passes Washington in head to head wins over the life of the programs… right now I believe Washington has the edge by 17 wins… GO DUCKS!!!

  • Sports righter

    For the first time in my life time Oregon has swept OS, WSU and Washington in Football and Men’s Basketball and we have swept Washington in baseball (unless we meet them in post season)

  • stevieb2

    A really good rivalry has elements beyond the scoreboard. Stanford has defeated the Ducks at crucial times but that doesn’t make them a “rival” in the way Washington and OS are our rivals.

    Washington’s transgressions go back thru Ricky Sweatervest all the way to the Dawgfokker. Now that is a rivalry we can wallow in for centuries!
    PS. Willing to add BSU to the list for their cheap shots, but we don’t play them anytime soon.