HYPE: A Four Letter Word Harming Duck Success

Steven Smith Editorials

Ever feel really let down by a loss, especially an upset? It kinda ruins your weekend. A grey-blue pall overhangs one’s thoughts, feelings and attitudes for days on end. An entire lost season can crush our individual or collective spirits for even longer.

How do you cope? Do you hit the sauce, snort something, rage at your spouse and kids, or even smash the closest breakable object? Some less destructive fans seek therapy; a known family member screams into his pillow, while others binge on videos or eat themselves to excess. Fans use a myriad of coping techniques to assuage wounded egos and self worth with each defeat. How could this have happened?

We react this way due to unfilled expectations. Here is where hype plays the villain. Two definitions may help parse this construct.

As a verb: to stimulate, excite, agitate, trick or gull.

As a noun: exaggerated publicity or hoopla to promote a method, or means, to intensify the effect or perceived potential outcome.

Just who is complicit in “hyping” the world of Ducks fandom with unrealistic, nearly unattainable goals?

The Media. This is not meant to be a rant, throwing shade on various TV/newspaper/cable/internet outlets. They play a needed role in developing and promoting athletics, and they’re just striving to make a living. However, they create a bias for the “chosen teams” and can greatly exaggerate how good lesser teams are. This creates a local “we are gonna be great” trope. completely absent from reality.

When sportscasters make millions from simply giving their opinions, the “tail is wagging the dog” for sure. Rare is a good one who played the game and knows its nuances.

Hogan Dannenberg

Eugene welcomes back ESPN in another top-ranked game.

Big Money. It has seriously ruined professional sports for many of us. It has wounded collegiate sports with a seductive influence. The relentless drive for capital and its corrupt effects — from betting on games to selling indulgences — are capricious. Let’s not even get started and go after university admins and leaders, dare we threaten their precious pockets.

Coaches. The most successful ones get the previous two categories in abundance. Entropy to the max, huh? Rare is the coach who says the obvious, “we’re just not good.” That doesn’t play in Peoria. It would diminish false hopes. We know they want to succeed and keep their jobs, but be more honest with us. Many prefer coaches who are grounded rather than full of “pie in the sky” promotion bordering on hucksterism. Remember a previous coach here?

Recruits/recruiting. A black hole in this universe is the act of sucking up to players. Promising them the moon and raising them to star status before even a scrimmage is the definition of hyping! Hard feelings, transfer protocols and family dislocations ensue for those who have been over promised and are underperforming. Sad. Great players are developed from hard work and learning skill sets. Potential is “Putzy” until proven productive.

Craig Strobeck

Oregon fans watching anxiously from the student section

Fans. We are indeed part of this particular problem. How so, you ask? Our myopic view, for a start, blurs our vision. There are really good coaches, players and, yes, fans living elsewhere in this great athletic landscape. Indeed the best, most successful teams (those that are top 10 annually) have the most fans. We do not, and numbers talk most. We are developing a narrative at Oregon of becoming insular, loud, boorish and condescending to fans of other programs. This need not be, especially having never obtained the “Brass Ring.

Hype Sells. From tickets to paraphernalia, a big interest at school and community levels matter. It’s akin to falling in love in the spring, with such a wonderful feeling of being awestruck. Then reality sets in and we are the jilted lover again. Crushed and heartbroken … why this unrequited love? Yes, all too often we have seen this movie.

So what is to be done? After living in Eugene for over 60 years, I would deign to make the following statement: We are not the epicenter of the Universe! Shocking, is it not? Proper perspective and an appreciation for the hard work and insight other programs are using to forge their own success is needed now at Oregon. While this is a wonderful place to live and enjoy one’s collegiate years, we possess some negatives too, as all programs do. Perhaps another article forth coming may explain why!

Being kinder and gentler to the game, other teams and players as loyal devoted Duck Fans certainly would be a great way to turn our reputation around. Tamper expectations, celebrate if and when we climb to the pinnacle, then tout the Ducks athletic programs, not just the lesser peaks and valleys along the journey.

Finally this quote: “Believe nothing no matter where you read it or who said it … unless it agrees with your own reason, and your own common sense.”  -Buddha

From Video

Bol Bol, a nine-game wonder?

Let’s supplant hype with hope, a more nuanced word and a better way to cope with the path to prominence. It will mitigate the pain of unfulfilled expectations and aberrant behaviors associated with those dreaded losses. One final observation, is it possible that the wounds of past performances prevent proper perspective?

How do you process the hype machine currently in vogue and what changes in format do you suggest? Or is this “old gray beard” out of touch with the new over-hyped current reality?

Steven E. Smith
Powell Butte, Oregon                                                                                                                                                                Top Photo by Kevin Cline


Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.


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