Friday, December 3, 2010

That Weird Duck-vs.-Beaver Thing

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 8:47 PM

As tension builds to almost unbearable heights before tomorrow’s Civil War, which by all accounts is even more momentous than the original 1861-1865 version, let us consider a provocative – but, I think, absolutely right-on-the-money – observation made by Jake on

In a post headlined “Beaver Fans Are Crazy People,” Jake writes: “I root for all the schools in this state – whether it's OSU, UO, PSU, UP, WOU, EOU, SOU, George Fox, Willamette, Concordia, etc. … whatever – unless they're playing the Ducks, and then I root for the Ducks. Beaver fans, however, want to see the Ducks fail miserably whenever possible and will root for anybody who's playing the Ducks.

“I've watched a few Duck football games with Beaver fans, and they were rooting for the opposition the entire time. When I watch a Beaver game, I root for the Beavers. Beaver fans apparently are incapable of rooting for anybody other than the Beavers, and certainly don't want to see any team in Oregon succeed other than the Beavers.”

There’s a lot riding on Saturday’s game for Oregon – an undefeated season and the chance to play the national championship game. For OSU … well, if they win they’ll have a .500 season and a chance to play in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, maybe. (No, I did not make those bowls up.)

But although their team is going nowhere the Beaver fans are out for Duck blood, and plenty of it. They want to wreck Oregon’s unbeaten season and its shot at the national title. They want to make the Ducks settle for the Rose Bowl – and if they do, Beaver fans will be rooting for them to lose that too.

Duck fans, in my experience, don’t have the same venomous attitude. In 2008, for instance, OSU and Oregon faced off in another Civil War game. That year OSU had a shot to go to the Rose Bowl; Oregon didn’t. Although normally a Duck fan, I rooted for the Beavers so that my state would have a team in the Rose Bowl. (It didn't -- the Ducks won in a blowout, 65-38.)

Naturally, the Beavers would like revenge for that drubbing. But as Jack points out, Beaver fans will root against the Ducks not only when they’re playing their own team, but when they’re playing anybody – even a team from that detested state to the south.

Why do Beavers apparently hate Ducks so much more than Ducks hate Beavers? I think it’s because they have a bit of an inferiority complex.

Oregon State, a land-grant university, has a more rural, agrarian history and identity. For a long time, it was perceived as being all about (as a retired OSU professor once expressed it to me) “cattle and cookin’.” Oregon, on the other hand, is seen – rightly or wrongly – as more urbane, more liberal, more intellectual.

In other (Tea Party) words, more "elitist."

Oregon State alumni drink Coors or Miller Lite. Oregon alumni drink micro-brews or chardonnay.

Oregon State alumni drive extended-cab pickups with HEMI engines. Oregon alumni drive Subaru wagons or Priuses.

“As a true Oregonian … I'd be excited if the Ducks and Beavers were both undefeated and this was for all the marbles,” Jake concludes his post.

As a true Oregonian, I agree – that would be one hell of a game. But since that’s not the way things are, I have just two words to say:


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