Don't go away mad, just go away

Last year, when the Oregon Ducks stumbled through the second half of their season, things got ugly.<br><br> Fans booed and walked out of the stadium during the third quarter of the USC game.

The next week, they did the same thing – only worse. They were less patient this time. During the Washington game the booing started before half-time,
with the score still tied.

And while it was clear that expectations had risen around the program, I remember thinking, “Typical. Dear God, if we (Beavers) ever become that spoiled…”

Apparently, many Beavers have.

Are Beaver fans as spoiled as the green and yellow supports?

Some who call themselves fans will tell you that purchasing a ticket gives them the right to boo as they see fit.

  • Booing bad calls, be it poor officiating or calling a fullback dive on third and 15, is one thing. Both of those are directed at adults who are paid to do their job. That’s part of being a fan.
  • Booing boorish behavior, be it a cheap shot, a stupid personal foul, or even a lack of effort is another. That, to comes with the territory.
  • Booing a 19-year old, a young man who is giving his best effort, but struggling nonetheless, is not about being a fan. That’s about being an ass.

Having a right doesn’t make it right.

Expectations are higher now, or so we’re told. And isn't that precisely the issue? Has it all become that blasé’? Have expectations risen to the level where incomplete passes are now cause to boo, curse, and leave the stadium early?

It’s a fine line between hope, expectations and demands. It is also a slippery slope: Dreams become hopes, hopes become expectations and expectations become demands. Unmet demands become bitter disappointments.

Slowly, but inevitably, fan attitudes can migrate from for better or worse to they'd better be the best, or face the worst. Being a fan morphs from passion to extension of ego and return on investment. Somewhere along the way it evolves from cheering on our alma mater – from support in the truest, broadest sense – to being all about me and my expectations.

Booing bad calls and bad behavior is one thing. Booing the home team is quite another.

Because of higher expectations, booing is somehow condoned. The irony is that the more we expect of the football team, the less we expect of ourselves as fans.

There’s a saying that on every ship there are passengers and there are crew members. Passengers pay their money and expect to be served. They’re along for the ride and they’ll ride as long as things are good. It’s a customer mentality, and the customer is always right -- even when they are wrong. At its core is a real measure of “what’s in it for me?” and a very real sense of entitlement.

Howoever, one can find two other kinds of passengers…

  • The ornery negativists who gravitated toward the team when they were awful – and in so doing found an endless supply of justification for their own bitterness.
  • The come-lately who was nowhere to be seen during the lean years, who never did and never will get what supporting a team win-or-lose is all about.

Crewmembers, on the other hand, see their role as helping to move the ship forward. For the crew, it is less the purchase of a ticket, and therefore the right to boo, as much as it is a longer term, deeper support of what the program is trying to do. They don’t simply purchase, they GIVE. They are not pollyannas, they simply understand Beaver football as being something larger than ourselves.

On any cruise ship, the crew remains while the passengers – all umbrella drinks, expectations, and attitudes – come and go. The question for each of us is this: Are you a passenger or are you part of the crew?

A friend told of a woman who booed Derek Anderson even before the ball left his hand. Incredibly, she continued booing after Tim Euhus caught the pass for a touchdown. When confronted she said, “Well he threw it to the wrong guy.” In another example, fans booed Anderson for passes that were thrown in the grass at the receivers' feet or sailed over their heads. In other words, he was booed for doing exactly what he should have done. With all his receivers covered, he made good decisions to get rid of the ball and to put it where NOBODY could get to it.

Of course, the people who booed the loudest when Anderson made good decisions to get rid of the ball, are the ones who screamed loudest about five interceptions at Fresno.

Derek Anderson takes enough hits on the field. He doesn't need to hear ingnorant comments for crude fans.

It doesn’t even occur to fans who never played the game (and certainly not at this level) that Derek Anderson may know just a little more about football than they do. Nor do they consider the complexity and speed of the game, or the athletic ability it takes to play at the major college level.

Nor do they respect the effort. Nor do they pause to consider the young man whom they boo.

Their presumptuousness is simply staggering. Predictably, it is utterly lost on them.

“Consider the source,” Mom said. And when I do, “Boo,” is little more than a bovine public pronouncement of one’s own ignorance, sense of entitlement and mean-spiritedness.

While the phrase "It's just a game" grates on me as much as the next die-hard, you know what? It is just that: a game, played by kids, for the entertainment of us “adults.”

So “fan,” when you find yourself swearing, hissing and booing the efforts of a 19-year-old because you think he is not living up to your expectations, pipe down. When you find that, in a sold-out stadium on what Keith Jackson would call a "chamber of commerce day in the Willamette Valley," you are teaching the kid in row 38 a whole new vocabulary, close your mouth.

If you are really feeling the need to boo, do yourself and us a favor and vote with your feet.

As the saying goes, “Don’t go away mad, just go away.” You’re not enjoying this and we’re not enjoying you…so leave.

Take a deep, cleansing breath of crisp autumn air, and look back at the sold out stadium and the parking lot full of cars with flags. Listen to the sound of marching bands, the crowd, the stadium announcer in the distance, and sound of leaves under your feet...and get a grip.

And, on the way to your vehicle, think back and remember 55-7 blowout games with 17,000 in attendance. Remember the days when every time your team played on the road, it was homecoming. Remember when John Elway said that playing the Oregon schools was the next best thing to a bye, and when “Rose Bowl” was a punchline, not an attainable vision.

As you continue to walk, remember a windswept, subfreezing Civil War of epic ineptitude that ended in a 0-0 tie, the 1983 “Why did we even bother” Toilet Bowl. Then, take a deep, cleansing breath of crisp autumn air, and look back at the sold out stadium and the parking lot full of cars with flags. Listen to the sound of marching bands, the crowd, the stadium announcer in the distance, and sound of leaves under your feet...and get a grip.

Because, whether you are a Beaver or a Duck, it wasn’t all that long ago that even in your wildest dreams, it wasn't this good.

Be more than a fan. SUPPORT your team and the young men who play on it.

Expectations ARE higher. We should expect more of ourselves.

Jaydub joined BeaverFootball.com in 2003. The views expressed in his column are not necessarily those of BeaverFootball.com. Jaydub can be reached at jaydub@beaverfootball.com.


BeaverBlitz Top Stories