This site is all about “Our beloved Ducks,” to quote Charles Fischer, our long standing Zen Master. It’s true: web-foots we are. However, the past two seasons, the Ducks have struggled mightily, and many “die-hard” fans have jumped ship.
The question to explore, for those of us who have stayed true, is: Why all the love for the Ducks? What draws us into caring and wanting to be a part of college football at UO, even during down years? There are 127 other D-I schools across the country and so many different (more successful) teams to support and root for. On top of that, football is just a game and, as is pointed out by many non-fans, has little in the way of redeeming social value. True enough.
There are a plethora of good ways to spend four hours on a Saturday. This begs the question:
WHY ARE YOU A DUCK FAN? WHAT ARE YOUR REASONS FOR DUCK DEVOTION?
Many will say “I went to school at UO” or “I live near Eugene.” But those are pretty obvious reasons, wouldn’t you say? Here are some of my reasons for cheering on the Ducks each Saturday …
Brand: The Ducks have brand value or “cache.” From week to week, the uniforms may be green, yellow, black, silver, white, or just about any color in the spectrum. UO started the uniform style flash-dash now copied by countless other college football teams. We are known nationwide as innovators of marketing and moxie.
Apolitical: The daily news is enough to make anyone sick of politics, politicians and all the nonsense and self-serving blather. But each Saturday, when watching the Ducks, we can forget about that. Instead of being politically correct, with everybody getting a trophy and tip-toeing around each others’ feelings, football is all about winning on the scoreboard!
Our “Enemies”: Our dreaded foes. Oh we respect them and might even get along … until game day. Then it is “out damned spot” or “get thee behind me”. Whether Huskies, Beavers, Wildcats, Cougars, or Bruins, they all want to bite, claw or rip us asunder! And that just adds to the excitement of the game, doesn’t it?
Athletes (Gladiators): I, for one, love the violent, aggressive theater that is football. Attacking and defeating the opposition amidst a loud, raucous, thrilling crowd recalls the Colosseum of Ancient Rome. Losing seems like death; victory, the only reward. Our warriors are strong, fast, agile, powerful, smart (mostly), gifted physical specimens, and, on game day, seem almost akin to Greek gods. Our heroes, indeed!
Community: Cheering on the Ducks creates a sense of belonging: hugging, high-fives, fist-knocking, and throwing the “O”. It is easy to feel connected when you’re united in beating an opponent. All the gear we purchase, wear and flout distinguishes us and them. It’s not all antagonistic, though. Games are a great way for me to enjoy time with family, in-laws, outlaws and friends. It’s a hoot! Even after the game ends, our communities seem closer, happier and rejuvenated in the Ducks’ success.
Uniqueness: No other team in D-I college football has a Duck as their mascot. The NIKE swoosh, Uncle Phil–it’s all a part of our identity. Lions, tigers, bears, cats and dogs … how unoriginal! The Tide, the Tree, the Cornhusker–it’s enough to make one want to throw up. No mascot is as special as ours!
Analysis: Football is a strange game when you think about it: A rectangle of 120 by 53 yards with an oblong pigskin that’s thrown, kicked, and punted. Above all other sports, football is all about schemes and analysis, with every play scrutinized to the n’th degree. One of the best parts about being a fan is dissecting film in order to understand the subtle nuances of the game. Only in football do you get such a unique meshing of the cerebral with the physical. It’s fascinating!
Suspense: The anticipation and expectations for our Ducks, the exciting wins and the devastating loses, only makes me salivate for more. Even if the Ducks are down one season, there is always hope for next year. Tension is what keeps life uncertain and interesting, and it’s what draws us to the Ducks year after year as well.
Food: Tailgating is just plain fun, and there are plenty of good eats on game day. Stadium chow is not the best (a.k.a. survival food). That’s why it’s important to fill up before you get inside. Plus, who hasn’t spilled their drink on the fan in the row below at least once?
Bandwagon: Although we here at FishDuck.com are not “bandwagoners,” you have to admit that it is fun when everybody jumps on, especially when it is green and yellow. Everyone wants to be a part of something special, and here’s to hoping that the Ducks can reach that level again soon. Many fans, though, have probably sprained or broken limbs from how quickly they’ve been jumping off from the last twenty-three crummy games (minus this past Saturday). But you and I have never left–nor will we, right?
Weather: Is there anything better than a fall day in Eugene? And even if the weather is bad elsewhere, it never rains at Autzen Stadium, as we all know. Cool, crisp autumn weather is perfect for getting together with family and friends, pouring a libation, and watching football. Not to mention, fall colors in Oregon are simply beautiful.
Becoming Elite: As Duck fans, this is our over-arching goal, the drive to be the best. This concept instills purpose in us as fans and convinces us that even we are a part of the grand design. Sadly, Ducks football is not elite … yet. Other UO sports, like basketball, are getting very close. But for excellence at UO, look no further than Hayward Field. Our track and field program is the definition of elite. It is, and always has been, one of the very best. Here’s to hoping football gets there soon!
Underdog: Historically, UO seems to have always had a little-engine-that-could mentality. In the 70s, we were bad, even awful. Giving football tickets away to patients and friends was akin to a fifteen-yard penalty. Often, such gestures were met with, “I thought you were my friend. I would rather watch paint dry than see those losers again.” Those days are over, though, and we will not accept mediocrity anymore!
Winning: It is the salve that soothes and heals all wounds and takes your mind off all other worries. Are you thinking about your lawn, portfolio, or the current state of the economy during the game? Of course not. It’s a welcomed escape from daily life. We’d much rather spend our weekends getting amped up, burning kilocalories, and spending an inordinate amount of time and energy ruminating over these 18- to 23-year-old student performers. It’s bliss.
It truly is the time of year to give thanks for all we have and been given as Duck fans. These are a few of the reasons why I holler “Go Ducks!” each Saturday and throw my “O” with pride. For me, Duck fandom is genetic: a double helix of green and yellow!
What are YOUR reasons for being a Ducks fan? Share them in the comments below.
Steven E Smith
Powell Butte, Oregon
Top Photo Credit: Kevin Cline