You know what they say- “The higher the climb, the harder the fall.” Unfortunately the Ducks and their fans now know this all too well.
Although some might argue, last night’s loss against Stanford had to be one of the hardest losses the Oregon Football program and it’s fans have ever experienced. So much was riding on this one game and everyone knew it. This was big.
I think I join thousands of Duck fans when I say I literally felt sick both last night and this morning when I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. After the game, I was on edge, my stomach was in knots and all I could do was hop onto Facebook and Twitter, searching for answers, commiseration and maybe even some hope. Quite honestly what I really wanted to know was how the players were doing. I couldn’t help but feel terrible for the guys I see face to face several times a week, many of which have opened up to me about their lives, their families and even their insecurities. The mother in me wanted so desperately to hug each one of them, especially Marcus Mariota and Josh Huff, who seemed to take it the hardest. Alas I was in my living room, along with the rest of Duck Nation, absolutely helpless.
Call me crazy but in so many ways last night’s loss feels like a tragedy. Yes, it’s just football and clearly there are many more devastating things that happen in life, but any passionate fan can surely tell you the sting of a defeat like this runs deep. But why? Why does it feel like I just lost a loved one? No, I’m not kidding. Why is all of this so important- not only to team, but to the fans? The answer is much more obvious for the team. They work hard physically, mentally and spiritually every day and although none would admit it, they anticipated that national prize. Not only that but I’m sure all were pulling for Mariota to make that trip to NYC. No, it’s not over yet but those expectations took a crushing blow last night and they all knew it. Just think, if we all love Mariota, someone we don’t even know, imagine how much more love his teammates have for him. That alone might have instigated those sideline tears.
But what about us? We’re just fans. Why are we so devastated? We don’t have to work like they do. We don’t run drills, get tackled, or jump in the freezing cold ice bath every day, rain or shine. We don’t form a bond with the team- a bond they refer to as “A brotherhood”. We aren’t performing in front of thousands of fans every week who expect perfection and we certainly aren’t laying our bodies on the line for the sake of sport. Why are we crying in our cheerios. . .or grabbing a bottle of gin? Because at the end of the day, we love our team. We love the excitement and bragging rights that victory after victory brings. We’re addicted, chasing that high each and every week. We analyze match ups, make predictions and find camaraderie with those that think alike. We spend hundreds, if not thousands, to fill the stands or even throw parties in our team’s honor. We get to know the players and their lives, pick a favorite and wear their jersey, even in the off-season. We become, at least in our minds, part of the team. So, yeah. When they fall, it hurts. We hurt for them and we hurt for us. There’s no shame in that. It’s called passion. It’s called football.