No Games? Duck Fans, We Need to TALK

Nancy Barnhart Editorials 30 Comments

My friends, the generosity of so many of you is moving to me, and today’s guest article by Nancy Barnhart is another example of the expertise and thoughtfulness within our FishDuck community. I want to encourage all women to consider contributing articles and offering their thoughts in the comments below the articles as well.  We need your voice! Charles Fischer

On March 13th, a writer and founder of this site, Charles Fischer, opened up a new topic – the recent cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Basketball Playoffs. Such a bizarre twist of fate that our Ducks got caught up in a national COVID-19 shutdown! Oregon was bringing two Duck Champions to the Big Dance- both the men’s and the women’s. Wow. But we never got a shot at winning, or losing, or even dancing, because we simply “lost out.” Over, done, no recourse. Awful. So, I’m just following up a little on that…

As we fans got the news that there would actually be no March Madness at all, not even a “sans-the-fans” setup, we reacted! Got stunned, disappointed, angry, confused, or all of it. And because our Duck fan base is so large, you better believe this was happening in a lot of households! Whatever you were feeling then, you were not alone! And whatever you are feeling still, you are not alone now either. You are sharing a common experience with a lot of Duck fans. It’s called “grief”.

Eugene Johnson

Payton Pritchard’s force of will propelled this team to so many victories over four years…

Grief does not limit itself to a designated gender, or an age range, or somebody else’s ethnicity. It is a core human experience and it rears up throughout our lives. We recognize it more easily when it is really big, like Death or death’s little brother, Divorce. But grief also accompanies simpler losses- like wrecking our new SUV, or the missing of a rare opportunity.

What we have here with our Ducks, is a complex sort of loss. It will morph into a basketball legend, standing out as one of those distracting asterisks in the record books.

What further incredible stats could the gifted Sabrina have tallied up had she been allowed a full post-season? My heart continues to ache on behalf of her and that special team. Never playing together again? (Of course that was coming- but not with a whimper like this!) And when will such unique basketball chemistry find its way back to Oregon? Let’s share a big group hug, Duck fans.

We lost a dream.

Tom Corno

Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard executed the greatest “Pick-and-Roll” play ever in the history of Oregon Basketball.

Beyond sports tragedy, other unforeseen losses are showing up all around us. Oregon schools have just been closed state-wide. Repercussions now explode for working people who will lose critical paychecks, even their jobs, if childcare options dry up in these paranoid times. There is plenty of loss, plenty of grief to go around, and projections are for much more ahead.

So let’s come to terms with the specter of grief! Grief needs to be “processed”, which means that individually or collectively, we will move through five predictable stages: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. A healthy “acceptance” is the goal, as it brings us relief from the pain and, hence, some peace!

Let’s apply this to how our own Playoff Shock may have unfolded:

Denial… numb, disbelieving (“No, they can’t do that!”)
Anger… venting, objecting, blaming (“That’s pretty ridiculous and extreme!”)
Bargaining… make this go away (“Can’t something be done? Reschedule?”)
Depression… hopelessness (“What a bummer, so not fair.”)
Acceptance(“Of course, a global pandemic IS the prevailing reality. Everything else must necessarily take a back seat. At least both teams got far enough to secure the 2020 Pac-12 Championships…”)

Dave Peaks

Oregon Softball had great potential this year…

Stages aren’t always experienced in exactly that order and they will recycle. Grieving isn’t much fun, but if you understand what’s going on within you and around you, it’s easier to be patient as everyone pursues their own path to healing.

Now, how can FishDuck help? Well, by being a sports forum all set up for you to use for support and constructive discourse. Right now most of us are floating through a strange no-touching, socially barren quasi-quarantine. It’s easy to feel increasingly isolated and “unheard”. Here is an opportunity to reach out and connect to others who share the hurt of losing (without the dignity of actually “losing”) in the NCAA Playoff Disaster. Our grief is real, it is valid, and for the moment, it deserves our attention.

“Duck Fans, we need to TALK!”

Maybe more than we realize.

Nancy Barnhart
Eugene, Oregon

(Top Photo of an Oregon fan at the 2015 National Championship by John Giustina)

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