It’s Civil War week: What better time for a little harmless hatred?
I quite severely, and with considerable malice aforethought, do not much care for the Oregon State Beavers.
Forgive me my lack of directness.
I strive as a rule to avoid murkiness in my writing, although I know of no filter that can grab every bit of grammatical grit before it fouls the page.
But it is, after all, the holiday season.
And it occurs to me that this is perhaps not the most appropriate time to employ unequivocal yet unfriendly verbs such as despise, detest and abhor.
Except it is Civil War week as well as Thanksgiving week.
And I graduated from the University of Oregon.
And the subject, after all, is only football.
And since a football team is an entity which has no feelings, as opposed to a person who definitely might suffer from the sting of harsh words, I suppose on second thought that there’s no reason I shouldn’t scrape away the euphemism and forego the hedging words and just admit that I hate Oregon State.
There’s no harm in that, really.
I don’t hate any of the players.
I have no reason to.
The only guy on the roster I’ve ever met is Grant Johnson from Baker City, and he was as friendly as any teenager I’ve come across.
As far as I’m concerned, hating a football team is basically as harmless as hating, say, a movie.
I thought “Armageddon” was ridiculous, for instance, but I never even considered writing a nasty letter to Ben Affleck.
Some would say, I’m sure, that hate is too prevalent in the world as it is.
I agree, but I also believe the world would be better off if a lot of people transferred their enmity from weighty topics such as politics and race and religion to comparatively trifling matters such as college football.
I hope Oregon State loses every football game it plays but I’m not, you know, irrational.
If one of my kids wants to study engineering or forestry, I’m not going to seethe with rage if OSU makes the list.
I’ve been asked several times to explain the source of my affinity for the Ducks and animosity toward the Beavers and my answer in each case was identical and, to both parties, unsatisfying.
I don’t know.
There’s no family grudge, which is the most common lineage for this sort of thing.
Neither of my parents went to Oregon, or to Oregon State.
Yet I distinctly remember watching an Oregon basketball game, when I couldn’t have been older than about 8, and really rooting for the team clad in green and yellow.
I have an equally vivid memory, from maybe four years later, of driving south on I-5 toward Eugene for a high school basketball tournament and listening to an Oregon State basketball game on the radio. Everyone else in the car was rooting for the Beavers.
(Allow me this brief interlude to apologize to Beaver fans for injecting basketball, for them a sore subject indeed, into a column purportedly about football.)
I meanwhile was in the back seat, conducting a silent, but intense, anti-Beaver campaign.
Perhaps I was just resisting conformity.
As I said, I really don’t know.
In any case, my loathing for the Beavers, whatever its origin, continues unabated.
If nothing else, being devoid of ambivalence in the ancient athletic rivalry between the Ducks and the Beavers affords me an especially keen sense of anticipation for Saturday’s game in Corvallis.
I gather from what I’ve read recently that some Duck fans, though they’ll be disappointed if Oregon loses, will consider it a nice condolence that Oregon State would then get to play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the Johnson administration.
(Lyndon, not Andrew.)
This attitude puzzles me.
I mean there are only two major college football teams in this state, so why can’t people pick one?
So what if they call it the Civil War. We all know there won’t be any cavalry charges or artillery barrages, and more than likely no one from either team’s going to come away with anything worse than a strained hamstring or a deep thigh bruise.
It’s all right to choose sides.
It’s only a football game.
The most important football game of the year.