Coping with Loss: Managing Defeats of Our Beloved Ducks

Steven Smith Editorials 51 Comments

Life on earth is filled with both joy and sorrow, as we all understand that concept as part of the human condition. Oft-times the new pains and injuries to body, mind and spirit is out of our control. Mortality brings injury, illness, disease, broken relationships and “man’s inhumanity to man” directly upon us. No one is immune!

Self-inflicted trauma however is a far different critter to cage. Let us specifically examine college football with the, “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and as noble DUCK fans–how we are dealing with those dreaded losses! The old bromide of, “if you swim with sharks long enough you’re going to get bit,” especially is true in college football when your team is trying to break into the elite of the sport.

Let’s examine the different ways to manage the trauma of getting whupped.

Loss is a cause for grief. We are familiar with the five stages of grief in…  1.Denial and Isolation   2. Anger   3. Bargaining  4. Depression  5. Acceptance

John Giustina

Losing is pretty hard for players too…

Individual football fan reactions to loss are infinite and complex. Most however, you can throw a hat over to cover. These are reasons most often given:

  1. Poor coaching is the major default reason, of which is often and repeatedly manifested on FishDuck by site commenters.
  2. Injuries to key performers (all teams have them during a season) affecting team results.
  3. Penalties and bonehead mistakes in execution by the players are real game changers at critical junctures.
  4. The way the ball bounces, or the ‘lady luck’ meme (although women as yet are not seen on the gridiron)!
  5. The elements, including the weather, crowds and most critically the Ref’s. (as they have it in for us!)

Often we fail to give enough credit to the other team of coaches and players who, on that day, were simply better than we were. Think of the last two Natty’s we played in against superior programs that vanquished our heroes! They were fine teams filled with future NFL players, and while we lost to noble foes, the pain of another “almost” National Championship is rough on devoted Duck fans.

Kevin Cline

Losses are tough for fans of all ages…

How do the rank and file fans deal with the Damage of Defeat?

  1. Hit the sauce (even harder) or take a myriad of substances (better living thru chemistry, yikes) to dull the pain.
  2. Pout, whine, scream or weep uncontrollably. I am sure you have never shouted at an inanimate object like the television, (right!) during a big doomed losing effort?
  3. Acting out physically such as punching a wall, biting fingernails, bruxing (as retired dentist just had to throw that one in) grinding your teeth in angst, slamming doors or counter-tops.
  4. Swear off the Ducks for good and forever (until the next game), or cut loose with epithets that would make any nun blush.
  5. Seek therapy on the couch or possibly take up scrabble and win big points with triple word or letter scores like anguish, inexorable, and extinguishing all hope of winning that brass ring.

Gary Breedlove

Fans murmur during a loss, and it is hard…

Perspective here is vital. There are 130 college football programs in the country, and basketball has over 300! Ultimately only one will prevail as the National Champion, but all others are considered dross for failure to obtain the Brass Ring? No doubt you have many sane and crazy ways to cope, because you are still a fan and Oregon has been on that doorstep often. (Like the Womens Basketball program recently!)

The commenting section on this site is a great avenue for self expression on how you individually manage the morose aspect of the failure to win. You may well have wise, sage and provident life experience not yet mentioned and the ability to prevent further harm to fellow Duck Athletic believers? That life you may save via talking them off the ledge, or taking away all their sharp objects are gestures of intervention, concern and caring for a fellow (Delicate Damaged Duck Fan) in utter despair.

It is not a question of “if, but when” that disappointed despondent demeanor will occur. We all need solutions to survive the next time; what are yours?

Steven E. Smith
Powell Butte, Oregon
Top Photo by John Giustina

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The Comments Below are CLOSED, as we are moving to the OUR BELOVED DUCKS Forum!

Comments below articles are now closed as we have moved all conversation over to the free Our Beloved Ducks Forum. It has been a big success already with many more posts than what we could fit into the comments below articles.

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum 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.

Be a part of the forum and stay caught up!  When you wish to post there, do know that you are protected just as you were on FishDuck. Join us on the free forum right here!

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) keep it clean, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

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Whoa! The FishDuck Forum is Coming SOON!

The Our Beloved Ducks forum will be up and available on Friday, October 23rd, so all of us can discuss the daily items of Oregon Sports, and do so in our safe environment unlike anywhere else.

I do not have time needed to manage the daily articles,…and I do not have time to put together the “full-package” of features I had planned for the site right now as explained right here.

But I do need my daily “Duck-Fix” and love this community, and I can give the smaller expenditure of time required for a forum.

The timing is good with fall camp starting and it will be up in time for the upcoming beginning of Football Season and the Oregon Sports Overload!

More news about it coming later,

Mr. FishDuck

Frozen Duck

I started my Duck fandom in the fall of 1970 as a freshman. In those days a loss was to be expected more than a win. For so many years I have almost expected the team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Even today I am rarely confident in a win in a close game. But I admit to being very disappointed and upset in the two losses of the 2019 football season. But I do have very high expectations with our outstanding coaching staffs in all the sports programs.


I have been going to Duck games since the seventies. Losing stinks. However, when I first started going to games Rich Brooks was coach. We had some rough years. However, Brooks always beat the Beavers. Just really love the atmosphere Of being at a college game. Autzen is such a treasure.


Yep, I started with Jerry Frei, Bobby Moore, Dan Fouts, then came the nadir of Ducks Football; Dick Enright, Don Read, 15-40 in 3 years. But then came Rich Brooks, the Ducks owned the Beavers, and, The Pick. You are absolutely right, Autzen is a treasure.

Articles EVERY Day for Next 12 days….

We are clearing out the “Bank” articles, and bottom line is we will have an article every day until the forum begins!


Oregon stays at #12 in the latest AP Poll. Clemson #1, Alabama #2, Georgia #3, Notre Dame, playing its first game in three weeks, slides in to #4, taking Florida’s place, who dropped to #9. Idle, thee Ohio State, stayed at #6, one spot ahead of 3-0 Oklahoma State.

David Marsh

This weekend was a great example of how College Football need their cupcakes (there is an article in that…). Oklahoma might be getting their act together and as a result has weakened the Big-12’s standings for the playoff. I don’t think Oklahoma State is going to make go undefeated, Texas and Oklahoma are going to give them a challenge that is too much for them I think.

Miami is not a top 10 team.. but they are when you don’t have the B1G and the Pac-12 playing … hate to say it but more the B1G.

It has been a very intersting season so far… and I can’t wait for Oregon to get involved!

Jon Joseph

OK ST is actually playing defense. Chubba has not done that much and the starting QB has been injured but D like the Cowboys is playing could be enough to take OK ST to a B12 title with 1L or less?

Jon Joseph

ND has yet to play a worthy opponent. From what I say of ND and Clemson yesterday it will take a Hail Mary to beat Clemson.

UNC is another pretender.


This is what I find so aggravating about Clemson. I can’t appreciate how good they are during a season, any season, because they don’t play anybody that can can challenge them. Last season, it almost bit them, and UNC messed it up going for 2. Yesterday, Miami might as well have been Citadel.

David Marsh

Clemson took care of business which is all they can do. Granted I would love to see them lose. ND and UNC don’t stand much of a chance.

Alabama won an insane shoot out against ole miss which is bad news for bama’s defense.

I think the sec is interesting this year. By taking away their cupcakes we get to see a side of the sec that we normally wouldn’t.

Santa Rosa Duck

Thanks Steven, I do my best to not dwell on the losses.

Off Topic; Stanford started practice on Friday but not on the Stanford campus. Santa Clara County is not allowing gatherings like this so the Stanford team is busing to Woodside High School in San Mateo County and holding practice. That cannot be helpful for the team. Cal started practice as well but Alameda County has dictated six feet of separation when not engaged in play. Sure that will happen.

Meanwhile Utah and Arizona have been practicing for months.

Watched parts of a couple of games yesterday. Fans in the stands even if only 20% seemed to work from a noise and fan perspective. What is an empty Autzen going to be like? Good bye home field advantage.

It is a double-edged sword for sure; it will be easier to win on the road versus WSU and Cal, but no home field advantage against the Huskies really helps them, darn-it.


You mean that Autzen won’t have a photo of me and my dog hating cat posted in the stands – – bummer.


Mississippi State fans have some serious coping to do. Before anybody realized what a mess LSU was this season, the Bulldogs chewed them up, 44-34. But, since then, 0-2. Yesterday, the Bulldogs rolled over and played dead, losing 24-2 to Kentucky. KJ Costello: 232 yds, 4 INT’s.

Jon Joseph

Highest SEC average scoring week in history, 33.8 points a team and the Pirate comes with a deuce?

But you can count on Mike Leach to NEVER blame himself. After the L at Kentucky the Pirate promised a ‘purge of malcontents’ from the roster.

And after the LSU D rolled over for Mizzou, the opening game W looks even less impressive. But what can you expect when your D coordinator (Faux Pelini?) is only being paid $2,5M per annum.

Is it COVI or COVID? The way these games are going, it appears that D is optional?

You’ve got to be Kiffin me! Ole Miss puts up 700+ yards on Bama and doesn’t get the W?

Arkansas got Hogged out of a W by SEC refs who are trying their best to make the Pac-12 zebras look good. But for Mario reasons I’m always happy when Auburn wins.

Tom Herman at Texas is now an abysmal 11-7 when his ranked Texas teams play unranked opponents.

The way things are going perhaps 7-0 will do the Playoff job?


Somethings gotta give, next Saturday, Georgia @ Alabama. History tells us that one loss for Alabama doesn’t make any difference when it comes to the “Playoffs”. So, Roll Tide! Other games of interest, LSU @ Florida: How’bout it, LSU ? A & M takes on the Malcontents. In the Big 12,first place, OK State is at Baylor, Iowa St & Kansas State have byes, as do Oklahoma & Texas.

Jon Joseph

Keep on cheering for B12 parity. Would be nice to have a 3L B12 champ.

Bama O vs the UGA D, can’t wait.

LSU/UF – first to 60 wins?

meanwhile, Clemson keeps on Good Clemsoning. Nice to have a QB and RB who should both be in the League.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Is it COVI or COVID? The way these games are going, it appears that D is optional?”

Jon…your levity really hits the spot; thanks for making me smile!

Glad to do so. I do think abbreviated spring practices and then wanting to keep the players flu free has led to many the missed tackle and blown assignments.


Oh my gosh, how can a team put up 700+ yards and not walk away with the win. Got to give it to Bama, that is great coaching.

Yep, looking good for a 7-0 trip to the playoffs. Just have to take care of business.


When the Ducks win it makes the good times better and helps me through sad times. Even when the Ducks lose I am still grateful for the hours of distraction watching a game provides.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Amen Annie! And boy, am I ready for some Duck Distractions!


Nice article, Steven. I believe perspective and expectations are the key to improved response to loss. My perspective changed dramatically this week when I had a near fatal heart attack and now await the possibility of acquiring the Chinese virus from potential hospital and surgery contamination.

So…the Ducks. I hope they win and I’ll be a little sad if they lose. But my coping is already in place. I will just immensely enjoy watching another Ducks game!

Jon Sousa

Hope you are feeling great soon. Hospitals definitely have germs of all kinds, but your key word is “potential”. Don’t worry about potential bad stuff. Just get better.

Santa Rosa Duck

Very best wishes, I have been there. Now that you know what matters there are probably a couple of changes coming.

Jon Joseph

Hang in there! Glad to hear that The Beat goes on.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Mudslide–know that so many of us here at FishDuck will keep you in our thoughts and prayers for healing and safety.


Thank you all for the kind words. Unfortunately, this is not my first cardiac rodeo…and not the worst. But it comes at a time when I’m again reminded of the truly important things in my life. I think we all need to occasionally be aware of what is really important to us during our time here. Somehow life experiences (and Duck games) become richer and leaves us feeling more blessed to have experienced them.

Go safely and GO DUCKS! Oh…and GO FISHDUCK.


Seeing how your body, at least my body, reacts like it is playing the game while I basically sit there, I go workout after a game. My body thinks it had to be ready to play the game so the energy coursing through my veins needs to be expressed in an aerobic and anaerobic way.

I usually replay the game in my mind as I go through my workout. At that point I gain a little clarity and closure to what I just experienced.

The big problem is the night games, where I am expected to go to bed after my body basically wants to go out and make the winning play.

Jon Joseph

I work out during the game; right elbow bends. This makes it virtually impossible to work out after the game.


Back in the day I could do those, what I call curls, and then workout, not anymore. If I am doing curls, then it is just a good walk at half-time and the walk to the car which helps me get through the post game anxiety.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I cannot do an analysis well during or immediately after the game, as I have to wait two days. Then with my passion for Oregon winning is cooled off a bit–I can see so much more.

I hear-ya Haywarduck!

Jon Sousa

Hopefully, we won’t have any opportunities to analyze our reaction to loss this year, at least through the “regular” (*cough*) season.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I’m with you and crossing my fingers as well, although the drama and entertainment of watching the development and growth of players sure adds to the interest.


If I were an Arkansas fan at the end of last night’s game versus Auburn I would have screamed then thrown something. Then after the SEC Official’s released statement I would have thrown up and assumed a fetal position for the day.

Jon Joseph

Now THAT was a hose job! But as noted above I’m always happy when Gus gets a W.


Reminds me so much of the Pac-12 ref’s that time they called the game over with time still on the clock. Not much you can say to defend this kind of incompetence.


Great topic, Steven, for me the hardest pill to swallow is that the best Ducks team I’ve ever seen, last season’s Women’s Basketball team, didn’t get the chance to bring the trophy home. Not only were they denied the chance to win the championship, we were deprived of the opportunity of watching that team 6 more times!

“Dyer was down” is going to be in the Ducks lexicon permanently; of course the Huskies have to deal with, ” “Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score” forever now. As BDF pointed out, sport is made of highs and lows; the lows are disproportionately devastating.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I want the roller-coaster, as I want the feel the incredible highs when they come….and hopefully we will have a bunch of them in the future!

I prefer a permanent occupancy in the penthouse.


High highs are often accompanied with low lows. Some say the best is “moderation in everything” – – – but I’m not one of them.

Jon Joseph

AMEN! I definitely prefer the Epicurean philosophy.


Per your recommendation I watched two games yesterday, both were upsets and the Texas game brought back some enthusiasm, so it was very welcome. Thanks for the prescription Doc.

Jon Joseph

You are welcome and I hope you got down on my UGA and Clemson locks.

If we learned nothing else yesterday we did learn that Miami, Tennessee and Texas are not back. Plus The Pirate is still seating his players under the bus.


Some things never change, and one of those is Leach. On another site somebody posted that he might not have a happy ending at Miss State. He isn’t even having a good start. Up in the Palouse he came out, “after dark, now he’s in, footbawl country, and his, “eccentricities” will only work if he wins.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I remember thinking that when KJ Costello transferred….“he is not a good enough QB for what Leach likes to do.”

Leach hasn’t got “his guys” yet at offensive line, receiver or QB. I do think he has a decent enough defense to start with, as so many of the Kentucky points were MSU self-inflicted wounds.

It is possible (IMHO) that he could do better in the SEC, because he can recruit defensive players and O-Linemen easier down there. And he is the “change-up” team that is hard to prepare for…but he has some growth and recruiting years to go on offense.

So far the SEC is handling the change up. Miss State’s next two games are at home for Texas A & M and then @ Alabama.

Jon Joseph

Gooooooooooooood luck Mike.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Right with you; no disciplining this passion!