Good morning, Ducks!
This coming Monday is the annual slowest day in sports. Baseball is on All-Star Game break (a break that used to be three days and is now four. A change that no one cleared with me.) Pro football camp is still two weeks away, basketball crowned the “LeBrons” just last month and the Blackhawks won Lord Stanley’s Cup just a couple of weeks ago. The sports landscape is barren.
It is a time to recharge, but also to appreciate the role that sports plays in our lives. It provides relaxation at the very least, elation at best. Sports gives us a shared narrative. People who can’t agree on politics, faith, the finale of The Sopranos, or preferred soft drinks can come together and say GO DUCKS! Brothers and sisters in arms.
What if there were no organized sports? Some would say that the divorce rate would go down because we would all be spending more time with our spouses. I suspect the divorce rate would go up because our spouses would be spending more time with us.
Probably, if there were no organized sports we would pay more attention to the disorganized ones. Grocery cart racing, something that I do surreptitiously right now, would become mainstream.
We would invent sports if they didn’t exist. We need them for what they mean besides what happens on the field. We need sports because man has always been us against them. It was us against the saber-toothed tiger, us against the Atlantic Ocean, us against the Axis Powers, us against the perils of space exploration, us against the pull rope on the lawnmower, us against the world, us against ourselves. It is “Us against…” that has pushed the envelope in every area of life. It’s the desire to be the best, support the best, identify with the best.
Sports are what transport us beyond, and there is a lot of beyond from which we want to be transported. None of us make enough money. None of us are as respected at work as we think we should be. None of us reached every goal that we set for ourselves when we were kids.
But we are a part of a great and glorious thing known as the Ducks of the University of Oregon. Whether it’s through ticket purchases, Duck Athletic Fund contributions, or adding a half decibel to the thunderous cacophony at Autzen Stadium, we are them, they are us, and aren’t we glad that we were born to be such a grand thing?
If there was no such thing as sports I would still mock Washington for being slaves to a past that few people who are alive now were born to see. I would still mock Oregon State for being mired in a sheep dip of mediocrity so profound as to accept it as their destiny. Only it would be about crime in Seattle and that awful smell that comes out of Corvallis when the wind blows and when it doesn’t.
But isn’t it more fun to mock the Huskies about nine in a row and Tyrone Willingham and the Beavers about five in a row?
Later this month the sports world will ramp up as football camps, both pro and college, get in gear, and the pennant races heat up. It will all come together in the glorious sports month known as October.
And that’s a very good thing.
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