Civil War: The Worst of Both Worlds

It's that week again. The seven days of every year that lead to a heightened level of angst between two factions more the same then different.

That's right, it's Civil War Week. The one week of the year which allows for the better halves of opposite rooting interests to enjoy the lighter side of a good rivalry, while the loud minority builds on the darker persona popularized by those unwilling to acknowledge the truth.

The truth of which I speak is the ugly side of every rivalry. The side that indiscriminately vilifies everything "them," the side that points feverishly in the direction of the "others," and the side so ignorant they're incapable of recognizing the arrogance in calling "those guys" arrogant. I'm talking about Beavers calling Ducks entitled, Ducks calling Beavers bitter, and both acting as if neither applies to them.

Allow me to let you in on a secret: You're all right, but you're all also guilty of the very same thing.

You see, people see and hear what they want to see and hear. If they hate the Ducks, then they're quick to point out the guy in Autzen Stadium who cursed in their face. If they hate the Beavers they're equally quick to point out the bad experience they had X years ago in Reser Stadium. However, in spite of which one they've spent weeks, months or years building a case against, they'll likely never willingly admit "they're" no better.

And they aren't.

I've been to both stadiums, sat with the enemy in each, and witnessed my share of despicable behavior in each and every instance. Arrogance and entitlement are not personality traits born and breed in Eugene or Corvallis, nor is obscene language or bad manners or abnormal disdain for the opponent, but all do exist and without question exist in both places, on both campuses and within both fan bases.

And I get it. I'm a fan and I know what it's like to be antagonized by the enemy at the height of sensitivity. It hurts to lose but the hurt is magnified at the hands of a hated rival. So when you're on the losing end and the other guy is boorish while rubbing your nose in it, it's safe to say it's going to leave a mark. But to assert that said action is monopolized by the enemy is nothing short of naïve.

My point is that if you are a Duck fan, it is okay to despise Oregon State. There's also nothing wrong with pounding your chest, "peacocking" or doling-out a lion's share of harmless ribbing in the direction of Beaver Believers or in support of all things Ducks; but to disrespect the opposition before, during or after an intense rivalry game is to paint yourself, your school and your fan base in the light the opposition is begging to paint you in.

Some of my best friends are Oregon State loyalists. They're sophisticated, intelligent and relatively mild-mannered people, but get them in a room full of equally orange, mild-mannered, intelligent sophisticates, and the anti-Oregon venom quickly reaches lethal levels, while the aforementioned intelligence plummets to level south of Lloyd Christmas, sleep deprived and 6 beers deep.

"Oregon's entitled."

"Duck fans are arrogant SOB's."

Really?

I've also heard people berate Oregon fans due to a growing number of Duck fanatics who've gravitated to the team and program in recent years, primarily due to a heightened level of success. My response to that is this: Of course!

If a team is doing well, the number of those rooting for said team is naturally going to grow. It's called human nature. However, just because more people are rooting for a team, it doesn't mean everyone who rooted for them prior is somehow a lesser fan due to such. If at any point Oregon State reaches a level of success warranting a steep incline of support, their existing fans will not immediately jump on the bandwagon, they'll merely be longtime fans of a team on the right end of an extremely lucky break.

Okay, that may have been a low blow, but I think you understand where I'm coming from.

Get over it! For every "arrogant" or "bitter" Duck or Beaver there are 100 civil supporters. Fans of both schools want to win…and they should. Fans of both schools want to believe their school is superior…and they should. And fans of teams want nothing more than to spend the better part of every year holding their school and team's win over the others head every chance they get…and they without a doubt should. That's what makes a rivalry good and that's what makes this rivalry great.

Oregon and Oregon State will play for the 115th time Saturday afternoon and I for one am looking forward to it. Someone will win and someone will lose, and I assure you there will be shake-your-head moments involving people near or far from where you're sitting, tail-gating or walking by, but remember this; such incidents, in addition to those perpetrating them are not representative of the whole, but more likely a few rotten apples doing their best to spoil the bunch.

Enjoy the game!


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