In this off-season I am pondering the Oregon fan more than I am the Oregon football team. In order to build a forum (which will be released in the next month) that is truly special, I need to cogitate on issues of what it is to be a fan, ask questions from readers/fans such as you, and then use that feedback to get my ducks lined up for when we roll out our new forum: Our Beloved Ducks Board.
I very much enjoyed the feedback from all of you last Saturday to my article and questions about GroupThink. This new topic is a bit more prickly: delving into and defining the nature of fan loyalty within all of us. My friends, I seek your guidance again, on how to navigate through it.
A big part of my fan experience as I get older is understanding what a coach at Oregon is trying to accomplish and implement and deciding how much I admire it. Typically if a new coach comes out winning in a big way, we are certainly all on board — examples of Ernie Kent, George Horton and Mark Helfrich in their early days at Oregon come to mind. Recall especially how often we fans will engage in Hero-Worship of a coach. The time of Chip Kelly with the Ducks was an example of this dedication to a coach that went beyond the bloom of fan respect given in the early stages of the aforementioned examples.
This Hero-Worship can be profound to some fans (to the point he makes 50 videos about this coach?) and this behavior is exemplified by a belief by fans that our coach “is smarter than the other coaches out there.” I’ve been guilty of that, and I know that many others have been as well, yet it doesn’t just pertain to Chip Kelly. Contemplate for moment — when you have truly believed that “our coach does it better than the others out there,” and whether it is possible that some of that is occurring right now with some fans and their relationship with Mario Cristobal.
It certainly started that way with Helfrich for many of us, and because of this Hero-Worship many of us continued to back him as the problems emerged, because of the held beliefs that “he is smarter than the others.” Usually that negative judgmental phase does not come until much later, and it takes a lot of losses. But I think back at how strong I was in being sold on the coach, and how much it took to jar that coach-crush to reality.
Be honest with yourself; how often have you truly thought that “our coach is smarter than the others out there,” or “our coaches do it the right way,” as opposed to all the other coaches of other teams? This belief is a variation of a deeply held faith that “our guys are the good guys.” C’mon … we all have thought that at one time or two about prior coaches at Oregon. Don’t all fans of all schools believe that about their coaches?
Of course they do.
You see it in the comments on this site and especially on other Oregon sites where the “we-believe-in-Mario-no-matter-what” loyalty is very strong. My point is not to throw shade on it, but to carefully consider it as a serious part of GroupThink, and how it can be both admirable and blind at the same time. Heck, there are times we all want to be blind to the weaknesses of our coaches and yours truly has been no exception. Only by identifying it within myself can I consider the impact on our discussions and how those interactions among fans in a forum can be monitored to allow and to account for it. Isn’t “drinking-the-Coach-Kool-Aid” to one fan “being loyal to Oregon” to another fan?
What is it to be a LOYAL FAN?
It is an interesting question at times, isn’t it? I’ve had fans question my loyalty as an Oregon fan … because I did not absolutely support everything a particular coach was doing. Should we? What about the fan that bleeds green, but likes how another coach at another school does it better? If he points to Beaver Baseball teams in the past, and asks why we can’t hit the ball like that — is that disloyal to the Ducks? If a fan feels that there were better ways to run recruiting during the Chip Kelly era — is he blasphemous if he were to point out how to improve it?
What is a loyal fan?
No, I am not smoking newly legal stuff in Oregon and contemplating my navel, although the crisp in-state craft beer I’m sipping is tasty. This exercise is not a complete indulgence, as it is meant to help me determine the guidelines we will live by in the new forum coming up. I want fans to state their thoughts as again, that GroupThink “thing” can materialize in an online crowd as they question whether someone is a true and loyal Oregon fan. So what is that precisely?
My thought on this is “anyone who wants the best for Our Beloved Ducks.” That comes in many forms and does not require money being donated to the DAF, season tickets or excessive Duck apparel. It is in the heart of the fan, and hopefully I will be able to see that benevolent love within what people write in their comments and posts. I am very open to a definition from any of you, and of course — any other suggestions you would have for our new forum in terms of features or guidelines/rules you would like to see.
Has the NEW LOOK Worked for You?
People come to me for advice in my business often as I’m sure they do to so many of you; when it comes to the site however, I am a complete rube and am reliant on the wise counsel given by my web developer of many years. He suggested a while back that we should make a change to the look of the theme to accommodate the cell phone and pad use, and while years back that was only 15% of our visitors, it has now grown to a slight majority at 52% of our readers. I could see the trend and took his advice.
Today I was blown away at what my Google Analytics revealed; only 23% of the readers coming to this site in the last week were on desktop! It is stunning to an old fart like me that 77% of the readers are on mobile and pad. It would appear that not only did we make the right decision, but the conversion may have made it easier for more people to visit and return to this site. Damn I’m a dinosaur … (But I’m willing to change.)
“Oh how we love to ponder all that is Our Beloved Ducks!“
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
FishDuck Going to Articles on Monday and Tuesday Only…
Our off-season schedule begins, and we move from publishing articles seven days a week to Mondays and Tuesdays only. Same great group of writers, and we will have an article on other days on occasion.
The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there. At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.
Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!
OBD Forum members….we got your back. No Trolls Allowed!