Monday, October 3, 2011

Growing as Fans

As we approach Cal this week, the most important topic I think we can discuss is sportsmanship.

Look, I cannot go and talk to the California Golden Bears, their coaches and any other personnel responsible for the fake cramping that became so prevalent in our game against them last year. I have met Tedford, talked X's an O's with him, but I sincerely doubt he would remember that, nor do I think he would take my call.

And, while I can most likely out bench press every player on the Cal team, that certainly does not mean I can force them into changing their methods for this game. I simply do not have any sway whatsoever in their choices. Honestly, I really only have the choice in my personal actions. Nonetheless, I wish to at least put this out there.

What Cal did last year is clearly unsportsmanlike. Tedford denies knowledge; throws an assistant under the bus and it quietly goes away. Except Oregon fans remember. They remember Cal players writhing on the ground in apparent pain only to "ham it up" on the sidelines for a play then return to the game. Let's be honest here; Cal coaches and players knew they were over-matched last season. You do not resort to faking injuries if you believe you can play straight up. And, really, that is too bad because Cal had one helluva game plan that almost worked against the Ducks. Their "Cover 0" approach worked as Darron Thomas misfired most of the night.

Still, football is supposed to be a "man's sport." In football, you pound away at each other in pugilistic fashion seeing which team can move the other; it's king of the hill with large men, pads and an oblong shaped piece of leather.

What Cal did was dishonorable, at the very least.

Unfortunately, there is something worse than faking an injury; and many Oregon fans were just as guilty as the Cal players. That's right, I am talking about booing a player while he is on the ground. Let's face the fact here, many of us knew when a player was faking. We have seen the replays of the defensive tackle looking to the sideline, getting the signal from a coach and then flopping to the ground. That does not make it okay to boo a player when he is on the ground.

Many Duck fans cannot understand why others around the conference say such negative things about Duck fans. After all, most of us have been nothing but gracious to folks from other schools. We convince ourselves that it is a small minority of fans that are ruining our overall good reputation.

When I hear an entire stadium cascading boos upon players lying on the field injured; I think differently. Even in Arlington, when an LSU player went down with apparent cramps, almost immediately, Duck fans began to boo. This wasn't an isolated fan or two, you could hear the boos throughout the stadium. I could only shake my head and try to explain to the LSU fans around me why fans were booing an injured player.

What are we to do? After all, no one likes to let poor sportsmanship go unpunished. As many have already suggested, we as Duck fans must do the right thing and treat every apparent injury the same. Give the polite applause as the player is helped off of the field. If however, the player runs back on to the field after staying on the sideline for the obligatory 1 play, scream your lungs out at the poor sportsmanship shown by the entire staff and players for the Cal Bears.

Until then, let's try to show just a little more class in our response than the Cal players and coaches did with their actions.
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