Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fan Perspective

This is The Other Side of Duck; the other side of the story. Anyone can sit here and offer up an “expert analysis" of what happened in
Saturday’s game. It does NOT take a genius to offer up grades, analysis and critique of the game. In fact, in some ways, looking at that side of Saturday’s story is rather pedantic. Instead I want to offer up a different perspective. First up: The fans.

I have heard throughout the Pac-12 conference that Oregon has some of the most boorish fans around. As I walked around Saturday, I just cannot imagine that to be anywhere close to true. I have been, in the last two seasons, to Tennessee, the NC Game against Auburn and now this game against LSU. I have been to Corvallis and Seattle. I cannot imagine a lower class, trashier fan base than LSU. There simply is a class divide
that is based on age group; but not gender. Do not get me wrong. I ran
across plenty of classy LSU fans. For those people,I am grateful. However, they are being dragged down by a younger generation of fan. Their younger generation makes the cast of Jersey Shore look downright elegant.

I am fortunate, I am 5’10” and weigh 240 pounds of power lifter muscle; not
too many people are willing to start trash with me. But I saw some
pretty despicable Tiger fans. Men? Women? Children? Did not matter. The
trash that they were transcended gender or age. In the end, I probably
saved the life of some drunk female LSU fan who tried to pick a fight with
a 300 pound male Duck fan… I broke up several fights in my own section.
LSU fans and alumni should take no pride in the way their fans represented
their institution; they were, in a word, disgraceful to the human race. In all honesty, and this will cause much heartburn to many people, but, from my personal perspective, the LSU fan base, as a whole was the worst fan base I have ever experienced. Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Washington, Auburn, Tennessee all carried themselves better, as a whole, than the LSU fans. As I previously said, there were plenty of GOOD LSU fans; we even tailgated next to some great fans that were very respectful. Unfortunately, the great people we met were overshadowed by those who were less than great.

While walking back to my car after the game, head held high, I spoke with Hal, a longtime fan and LSU graduate. He admitted that, while the fans his age were all pretty dignified, that there is a large faction of the younger generation who have no real ties to the university, but prefer the obnoxious side just for the sake of being obnoxious. As we parted he thanked me for speaking with him and wished me well. His last words to me were "I am sorry that some of our lower trashier fans put us all in such a negative light." I simply told him not to worry about it, we get to choose those who impact us the most and I will let his example be the one that frames my thoughts of that night. In 30 years, this game will be a faint memory. His uncompromising respect and dignity will stay with me longer.

As a final note on fans here, I implore Oregon fans that read this to represent us well wherever you may roam. There are people making judgments about all fans, our state and our beloved Ducks based on your actions. Represent us with
dignity and class. Do not sink to the level of the trash I so unfortunately encountered.

To those LSU fans who tailgated next to us, as former members of the Tiger
Band, you represented your university well and should take great pride in
your class. Sure wish some of your comrades had the same level of class
and dignity! Thank you for a great time!

On a brighter side, my friend Gwen, from the Dallas area, really showed us some great things about Texas life on Friday night.  Some authentic Texas BBQ at North Main BBQ in Euless followed by “Friday Night Lights” at the game between Southlake Carroll High School and L.D. Bell high school. There is nothing more impressive than seeing 25,000+ people pack the stands of a HIGH SCHOOL football game; truly an impressive sight. Throw in an even more impressive video replay scoreboard and you have a stadium that is better than many college stadiums. Plus, it was fun to be back at a high school game.

Southlake Carrol Dragon Stadium
While at North Main BBQ, I had the pleasure to meet and talk Ducks with Duck legend Jerry Allen. What were the odds that he would choose the same BBQ joint as us? It was truly a pleasure to talk Ducks with “the Voice of the Ducks.” I was honored to spend that time meeting and talking with him!

Finally, it was almost surreal as I took my tour of Cowboy Stadium, affectionately dubbed “Jerry World.” The facility was amazing in just about every aspect. The locker rooms, though very nice, were not even comparable to Oregon. The tour hosts were shocked to learn just how
incredible Oregon’s facilities really are; we are lucky folks!

On my way out of the Pro Shop I was greeted with the most surreal experience as some Duck fans recognized me from the articles I have written about Lache Seastrunk. This, to me, was rather shocking. I was humbled and grateful for their acknowledgment. I simply followed my heart on a story and it has, seemingly, had great impact on Duck fans everywhere. I am simply glad I was able to bring you that story. The story deserved telling. As I was tailgating, I was introduced to more fans who had read the articles and wanted to meet me. Thank you so much to all those people willing to read my little words. I truly and sincerely appreciate your continued support.

I apologize for not having pictures of my meeting with Jerry Allen. I am not the “fanboy” type that even thinks about that, but it was a great experience nonetheless.

Braden and I outside Cowboy Stadium
I will end with some thoughts on what this trip meant. The loss, though very disheartening, is simply a single loss. It will not ruin the Duck season. Are the Ducks headed to New Orleans for the Title game? Not without everyone else in the BCS losing two games. But this Duck team is still the class of the Pac-12. There are many bright days ahead. On a personal note, I was able to make this trip with my 19 year old son, Braden and we had a great time going to the stadium and really enjoying all the great things football means to so many people. Take the positives and love those things. Leave the negative behind us. Let’s keep our heads up… we have a home game soon, and it is tailgate time at Autzen!

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