What is an Oregon Ducks fan?
That depends on who you ask. To some, Oregon fans are rabid, crazy fanatics that bleed green (and black, and grey, and a different green, and highlighter yellow, chrome and sometimes pink and even less often, blue) and “yell-O”, right? To others, they’re rabid fans that claim greatness but whose number of national championships matches the shape of their logo, which critics love to say is a big fat zero.
Oregon fans are the most loyal fans that there are, right? Oregon fans stick with their team through thick and thin, right? That is of course unless they’re losing, then they’re some of the most disgruntled, obnoxious and fair-weather fans that exist.
When you live in Duck country, the bond between Ducks fan is as palpable as the smoke and pollen that enshrouds our valley. When fans pass each other they go out of their way to make themselves known to anyone with an Oregon license plate, or to flash the “O” to someone wearing a Ducks hat, shirt or even a sticker in their window. They’re loyal to one another, and they know it bonds them like no other.
What do others think of Duck fans though, and how do Ducks fans compare to fans of other universities?
I’ve been to other parts of the country, and outside of the Pac-12 region most other fans I’ve met actually like the Ducks as a team. I lived in the middle of SEC/ACC country for two years, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well-liked the Ducks were. But no one really knew much about the fans themselves. It’s known that Autzen is one of the loudest stadiums in the country, but with very few exceptions no one really understood the fans beyond the tales of ear-piercing noise coming from such a small stadium.
While living within roughly four hours of Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Florida, and FSU, I was able to see some pretty passionate fanbases who had less than polite things to say about one another. One thing that they all were though is very loyal, win or, God forbid, lose. In general they didn’t think too highly of other conferences, especially from the SEC fans, but outside of their world, believe it or not, there was just a little ribbing to me with my constant Oregon hat invading their territory.
There is a question that keeps running through my head though. Would they think the same thing if they were here and saw us in person, if they were to ever show up at Autzen? Would they still respect Oregon fans afterwards, or would the fans make enemies of them like what happened with a former Oregon player?
Let’s face it, there is one thing we can’t argue with, and that’s the fact that there has only been a single school west of the Mississippi to win the college football national championship since the vacated USC win in 2004, and that was Texas in 2005. There has only been one school, Ohio State, in that time period that didn’t fall within that four-hour radius. The simple reality is we just aren’t there. No one but them actually is.
Sure, Oregon is knocking on the door, but so far we’re 0-2 when playing for it all. The fans, well there are a lot who think we are there, that we belong in that same elite conversation. We talk the talk but so far we do it without walking the walk. That is a reality.
Where the difference lies, though, is that when Oregon is winning, the fans are on board. We think that this is the year we shut the naysayers up…and then comes the 4-8 season and fans stop talking, stop supporting, stop being fans. The support is suddenly for no one…not for the school administrators, coaches or even the players. Heck, they even stop flying the Oregon colors for periods of time. All too often it seems Ducks fans fall off the bandwagon.
Enter 2020. Can we still be Oregon, the program knocking on the door of the elite with some of the loudest, most dedicated fans in the nation, or are we going to be the whiny, ‘why can’t we play like everyone else’ fans that only support the Ducks when they’re on the field and winning?
So I ask again, what is an Oregon Ducks fan?
Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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