Another season of great tailgating at Autzen stadium is finished. I would like to take a moment to recognize the person who makes it all possible–my brother Ken.
He gives us a space to party, puts a roof over our heads, makes sure we get plenty to eat and drink, pours us car bombs, and makes sure we have heat. Hell, he even makes sure some of us have tickets. I know I wouldn’t be there without Ken!
He is not only the most generous host, but as a bonus, if anyone at the party ever had a medical issue, he could save their life. We probably have one if the highest percentages of ACLS certified attendees of any tailgater. It’s a good feeling.
Of course, even though Ken is definitely the king of the tailgater, he is assisted by the best group of partiers you would ever hope to meet. Whenever I invite someone new, they always tell me how wonderful my family and friends are. It’s true.
There are far too many people to send out my love to. Ken and “I can’t feel my cheeks”Nicole, Lu and Brandon, Ma and Little L, John and Rhodana, Marlene, Pam, the THS fun crowd, and everyone who food/drink/laughter to the party.
This weekend was my only chance to see the island guy for several weeks, so even though it meant a long drive, the possibility of difficult game viewing conditions, and missing a party on Tequila Hill, I made the drive. My immediate reward for my decision was a beautiful sunset from the ferry.
On Saturday morning, I put on my usual Duck regalia, and we headed uptown for breakfast at the Hardware Store. I was a little concerned about getting snide comments from the local Husky fans, but not only did I not get a single look, but I didn’t see anyone wearing Husky attire either. Vashon is obviously not a hotbed of football fandom.
So we completed our breakfast and errands without any Husky attacks and headed home to do some organizational tasks. We made sure to take time for beers and talking by the water, because it was a gorgeous day.
Island Guy is not a sports fan. Oh, it’s not as bad as if he were a Beaver or Husky fan, but he doesn’t follow sports at all. Nor does he have cable. So this is how we watched the game:
It was fine. There was sound and a picture. The company was excellent. I got to explain the rules and strategy as the game went on, which made me feel like a football genius. Herbie kept repeating everything I explained to Stephen about 2 minutes after I said it, which is always gratifying. If Stephen reads this, I will have to tell him that Herbie was one of the announcers.
For the record: I like Herbie, and do not think he is a Duck hater.
Some random thoughts:
I am not a fan of the sparkle pony glitter helmets.
Defense was pretty good in the 4th quarter, but weak during the rest of the game. Secondary? There’s talent there, but it hasn’t shown much in the first two games.
This morning I am reading a lot of criticism of the new quarterback. Two picks are not good, but one of them was really not his fault. It was a great play by the defense. I thought he played really well for someone who joined the team a month ago. Cut him some slack. Had a few plays gone differently, the outcome could have been different. Sometimes you lose.
The team never quit. They played hard until the end against a really good MSU. This was not a loss to be embarrassed about.
If you are a fan, you’re still a fan after a loss. Suck it up and quit whining. But c’mon. We do need a defensive secondary soon.
This morning, I woke up to the sound of fog horns and the smell of coffee. Island Guy is off doing his Zen thing and I’m enjoying the view of the Sound under gray skies. The air is cool and smells of salt and sea weed.
To me, football is about getting together with family and friends and enjoying them as much as it is about the game. That means the life continues to be wonderful even after a loss.
Life is good, and I still love my Ducks!
Oregon, our Alma Mater
We will guard thee on and on
Let us gather round and cheer her
Chant her glory Oregon
Roar the praises of her warriors
Sing the story Oregon
On to victory urge the heroes
Of our mighty Oregon!
Go Ducks Go!
Fight Ducks Fight!
Win Ducks Win!
I am not normally superstitious, with one big exception: Duck football. For whatever reason, I have several superstitious behaviors related to going to football games or just watching them on TV.
Firstly: I have to introduce new game day clothing items (like jerseys, football shirts or Duck jewelry) during early season games, the ones against teams like the Santa Barbara State Quilting Academy. That way the clothing or jewelry article gets good luck on it before it is worn in a real game. I do not have to stop wearing the article if it is involved in a loss, unless it is something branded with a particular bowl game. My 2011 BCS championship hat and 2010 Rose Bowl hoody can only be worn in the off season. The crazy thing is that for home games I feel compelled to wear the officially designated color even though I am completely cognizant of the fact that getting us all to wear a specific color of shirt is purely for increasing merchandise sales.
Secondly: Fireball must be consumed just prior to going into the game if it is a home game. The twist on that? It must be consumed by everyone at the tailgater who is of legal drinking age. Even if they don’t like Fireball, or are of a religion prohibits it, they must lift the bottle to their lips. For standard away games, It is optional, but preferred. For bowl games or championship games it is again mandatory for all in attendance at the viewing.
If we don’t drink Fireball before an away game starts, and the Ducks get behind? It will be fetched from the freezer, and everyone in the room will have to drink some. If we are at a bar, shots will be ordered.
All things considered, it is now clear that I should have had at least one more shot of Fireball last night.
Thirdly: all of my lucky bracelets must be worn on game day. This has become a burden because there are a lot of them. I may need to decrease the number at one of the early season games in August.
Fourthly: I must begin each game day, either home or away, by tweeting and updating my Facebook status with the following phrase before I even get out of bed.
After which, I must like any status update involving any Go Duck-itude and also respond with Go Ducks. And if anyone else responds with Go Ducks, I must like that response. If I am at Autzen, the responsibility ends once I lose my Internet connection. If I am watching an away game, I am on the hook through the entire game.
Then, there is the necklace.
Every year before the first Duck football game of the season, I put on my lucky Duck necklace. I used to only put it on for home games, but at some point last year I forgot to take it off between games. We won. Then I couldn’t take it off until the end of the season.
This year, I was lucky enough to be able to wear it for the most possible games it could ever be worn for. Fifteen of them. It has been on my neck all the way from August 30, 2014 until January 12, 2015.
It will be nice to get my neck back again.
It must be said that I am fully conscious on an intellectual level that none of the above superstitious acts have a damn thing to do with the outcome of the games. The outcome is entirely to do with the staggering amount of hard work put in by the coaching staff, support staff and above all the young men who make up the Duck football team.
That time I forgot two of my lucky bracelets in Portland and had to go to a game without them? I was uncomfortable.
When my parents gave me a Mariota jersey for my birthday on the day of a Stanford game a couple of years ago, I opted not to wear it because it didn’t have any luck on it yet. We lost the game any way, but I didn’t feel like it was my fault. I forgot to wear it to an early season game last season, so I didn’t get to wear it until this year.
But superstitions are a way for a spectator to participate in the game. A way to be a part of the team tribe. For me, it goes along with wearing the team colors, and yelling as loud as possible when the Ducks are on D at Autzen. High fiving all the people around you. Thanking the nice people who bought a round of drinks because you shared your table and they won at Keno. Clapping until your hands hurt. Jumping up and down. Throwing the O sign.
So even though I know it’s silly, I will keep right on doing all these things. Even though a loss does suck, I will remember that in spite of how much I enjoy it, it is only a game. The thing that really counts for me, even more than the amazing athletic feats, is the time I spend cheering for the team with my family and my friends.
The other thing I will keep doing is supporting my team through both the wins and the losses. Even tough losses like the National Championship. They’re still my Ducks, even after a loss.
I’ll take off my yellow shirt, and I’ll put away the bracelets and necklace until September.