Call off the dogs

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer November 10, 2011 08:03 pm

Perhaps it is the safety in numbers, or overindulgence of a favorite beverage, but college football Saturdays have turned into a trash talker’s paradise — and not just on the field.

The first thing the University of Washington football fans said was, “Duck fans are the rudest.”

Wonder and I were taken aback. My wife and I were at a sports bar in Walla Walla — on enemy territory, so to speak.

We are University of Oregon football fans.

It was Saturday night. On TV, the Ducks were opening their annual can of whoop-’em on the hapless Huskies.

Most people in the bar, however, showed no interest in the Duck-Husky game. Most fans were watching the game matching No. 1-ranked LSU against No. 2 Alabama. TV pundits were billing it as the “Game of the Century,” but since it is only 2011 and there are 89 years left in the century, it may be too early to tell.

“So why do you think Duck fans are rude?” I asked.

“We were at Autzen Stadium (home of the Ducks in Eugene),” the man in the couple said. “We had on our Husky purple, and people were being mean and nasty.”

Old school fans don’t like the heckling. They promote good sportsmanship.

Old school fans also don’t like teams with big leads to run plays in the last two minutes. They prefer it if the winning team kneels down and runs out the clock.

I know better than to mess with old school fans. Once, as a young reporter, I wrote a column advocating less violence in football. I called for a kinder, gentler game.

The old school fans went nuts. Football is a violent game, these fans argued, and if you don’t like it we’ll come down to the office and face-plant you into the petunias.

I soon came to appreciate the violence in the game. I also appreciate quality trash talking.

Still, I think Duck fans should be better hosts. When Washington plays at Oregon next fall, Duck fans should help the visitors find their seats, maybe even offer them fresh-baked cookies, a smile and a hug. Tell them how much we appreciate their efforts driving from Seattle to Eugene. Invite them to make themselves at home and enjoy the beating.

Duck fans should show Husky fans some old-fashioned southern hospitality and then apologize profusely after the game for having whomped on the visitors.

Back in Walla Walla, soon the “Game of the Century” was over. Alabama fans were crying crimson tears. The game ended 9-6 for LSU and was about as exciting as watching haircuts.

The Ducks, meanwhile, were in high-entertainment mode. The Washington fans got up from the table abruptly and said, “You guys are too nice.”

I apologized profusely for the beating the Ducks were giving their team — but they didn’t seem to want a hug.

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