As always, I’ve been pondering about Our Beloved Ducks and have been fascinated with the impact of mental issues hitting other teams in the conference. Oregon has met these challenges well thus far, but both the fans and the team may have some trying times ahead. I have written before about the importance of establishing mental toughness, just as Coach Mario Cristobal has set a standard for also being physically tough.
What do you think the odds are that Oregon will have a game cancelled?
How will this young team hold up if the Ducks have a game cancelled?
The disappointments of losing in Pullman two years ago along with two games lost last year that were quite winnable helped to build a mental foundation for this team that had not existed at Oregon for five years. I was especially proud of how the Ducks came out in the second half last Saturday and not only did not wilt, but stormed to the challenge. That game added another brick to the all-important culture being built at Oregon … but we are about to be tested like no other time in Oregon football history.
Geez, what a weird year. While the Oregon players seemed to be a little rusty in the first two games, they were not as out-of-sync as I feared going into the season. The differences in execution by Pac-12 teams between the first and second game is vast, and our next opponent UCLA is a great example of that. Oregon has adjusted admirably thus far, but what if there is a game cancellation? Will that obliterate the delicate mental balance achieved thus far by our young team?
Yes, I know I am fussing over something that hasn’t happened yet, but the impact to the team is massive if games do get cancelled. Last weekend? Cal was a mess, Washington was unrefined and poor Utah is bound to be a shadow of what the Utes could have been if there had been a regular season. (All of their games have been cancelled thus far in 2020.) Sports and mental health are connected. Playing the games has a positive effect on mental health of the team, while missing too many games can truly mess with their heads.
Oregon is on a roll, is improving, and I don’t want to see that momentum slide backwards. When a game is canceled, there are myriad emotions that both players and fans experience that range from feeling depressed, disappointed, frustrated, or anxious. The cancellation also brings up complicated issues surrounding how the teams will move forward in competitions like the Cal-UCLA game last week, (deciding to play at the last minute abruptly), which ultimately have more mental effects than physical — by a mile.
After a game cancellation due to COVID-19, the players will understand the reason behind the game being canceled, but that does not stop the bizarre set of emotions that will beset them. Some athletes may naturally practice Radical Acceptance, a technique where you embrace the reality of what’s in front of you. You don’t try to change what’s going on, but understand that there are some things that are beyond your control. Radical acceptance isn’t giving up, but it does help the players cope with the lack of games.
Is that enough?
Fans have been dealing with the everyday stresses from COVID, and are turning to help from the professionals, as the Ducks have their own team psychologist. While there are great sources for fans to turn to for help such as this one, … is there anything available to the staff that can help to overcome a mental hurdle never experienced before in Oregon football?
I know; I’m a nervous-Nellie who wants Our Beloved Ducks to win the conference, but after seeing other teams impacted significantly from COVID cancellations — I recognize a potentially big mental challenge ahead that could cripple the prospects of this team.
What do you think the odds are of Oregon having a game cancelled, and what impact will it have on their future performance?
“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
Top Photo by UO Athletics
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