Thursday was my wife’s birthday (“Happy birthday, honey. Sorry about, well, you know.”) It being her special day, I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell all of you what a lucky guy I am.
When I met her all those years ago, she didn’t know the difference between Oregon and Oregon State. Last season, at the end of the Civil War, she said, “Whew! I couldn’t stand the thought of losing to those people.” That’s what I call personal growth.
She won’t let me tell you how old she is, (and gentleman that I am, it would never occur to me to do so) but she is truly an …
… and prefers ‘American Classic’ to something else that I call her if I’m out of punching range.
But her birthday got me to thinking about gifts that I would give in the world of college sports. What, if it were their birthday, could I do that would make participants and fans of college sports happy?
1. Northwestern University: Northwestern is known for putting out graduates with more than a few brains. An NU degree is highly valued and provides entry into some of the hallowed halls of business, finance and journalism.
Now some of their current players and recent graduates are looking to upset the apple cart that we know as ‘The Way Business is Conducted’ in the world of college football, and possibly within all of college sports in general. Look, I think most of us can agree that there is room for adjustment in the way that athletes in the revenue generating sports are “compensated” for their efforts.
But full unionization? Is that the answer? It will take bigger brains than mine to figure it all out. Here’s where I stand:
While not at all sure of what a trip down this kind of path will mean, neither am I an alarmist by nature. I don’t think this is going to wind up destroying the sport we love, or the institutions that participate. So, somewhat reluctantly I say “Happy Birthday, Wildcats!”
2. University of Colorado: My goodness it must be hard to be a sports fan in Boulder. A solid-ish basketball season ruined by an injury to their best player. And don’t even get Buff fans started on football. Remember when Bill McCartney was head coach? Solid program, led by a solid guy who later founded the Promise Keepers program.
A National Championship in and among a lot of good seasons, played with class and success? Then came Rick Neuheisel? Of course, the class went out the window, but still they won more than they lost. After that it was a string of coaches with records that varied from bad to awful. It makes one feel a little sorry for Coloradans. Sure, Boulder is the prettiest college town east of Eugene, but don’t they deserve more? Of course they do, so, “Happy Birthday, Buffaloes.”
3. University of Utah: The old Mountain West Conference was a pretty good playground for the Utes. In their best year they rode the arms and legs of Alex Smith, and the mind of Urban Meyer (when he was less of a weasel) to great and nationally relevant victories.
But since then things have been less than rosy for the Utes. And I feel bad. Sure I’m a Duck fan but I have Big Love for Utah as well, and would like there to be something meaningful that I could gift them. I decided that it came down to scheduling. So, for this coming year, Utah has a new football schedule. ”Happy Birthday, Utes.”
4. University of Washington: It’s easy to tell the age of a Ducks fan. Just see who they come up with when you mention, “Huskies in trouble with the law.” Old-timers will remember Reggie Rogers. Younger adults will remember Jerramy Stevens and Curtis Williams. The youngest among us will quickly say, “Cyler Miles.”
Sure, every program has its difficulties. Some schools have players who play in the snow with a little too much youthful abandon. But the Huskies have always done the whole arraignment thing with a certain gusto. ”Happy Birthday, Huskies.”
Top image by openclipart.org
Kim Hastings is a 1984 graduate of Northwest Christian College. He cut his journalistic teeth as sports editor of a paper in his home town of Fortuna, CA, and, later as a columnist for the Longview Daily News in Longview, WA.
He saw his first Oregon game in 1977 and never missed a home game from 1981 until a bout with pneumonia cut his streak short in 1997. He was one of the proud 3200 on a bitterly cold night in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1989 for the Independence Bowl, and continues to be big supporter of Oregon sports. He is an active participant on the various Oregon Ducks messageboards as “TacomaDuck.”
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