Monday, September 1, 2008

There's An A-Hole In Every Crowd (Sometimes Two)

This past weekend, some friends and I visited my alma mater, the University of Oregon, in Eugene for the season opening football game against big-time rival the University of Washington Huskies. As a proud alum, I sported the Oregon Ducks' green and yellow colors, and my friends being fans of Washington donned the purple and gold of their team.

After enjoying some beer, sunshine and people watching on the deck of Taylor's Bar near the UO campus during the afternoon, we began our foot commute to the stadium for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

When it comes to sports, these two schools and their fans love to hate each other, and therefore visiting the opposing school's turf is always a challenge for opposing fans. So, hats of to my friends coming down to Eugene to support their school and wear their colors proudly.

Despite this animosity, it must be said that 99.99 percent of all 58,000 fans on hand at the game said exactly nothing to my friends about their allegiance to the UW. And, their were several who even came up and said a friendly hello and thanked my Husky friends for coming. So, for the record, the overwhelming majority of Oregon fans were silent to very nice to the visitors from the north.


There's an a-hole in every crowd. Sometimes more. And we just so happened to run across two of them on our walk from campus to the stadium. Both were current students at Oregon and both were clearly really drunk. Alcohol fueled immaturity on display.

However, that's no excuse. Most people around us were pretty pickled, but only these two guys decided to yell obscenities and harass at my friends in purple...even getting on my case for walking with them.

What is it that possesses people to lose all sense of decency and yell and scream obscenities at others for no other reason that the color of shirt they are wearing? I guess it's a combination of insecurity, ignorance and a just plain mean streak some people have in them.

The first a-hole we encountered was one of several guys walking together to the stadium, and all he could do was berate my friends and me - with a LOT of profanity. Not creative profanity either. Just a spew of four letter words. I got to talking to one of his buddies - a cool dude who is shipping out to Iraq with his National Guard unit soon - and he couldn't figure out his friend's attitude either. He tried to calm him down, but to no avail. Eventually the guy must have got board and the little group progressed ahead of us. The end.

Perhaps the most depressing incident occurred after that when another a-hole started yelling at us. After hearing just one to many f-bombs hurled at my friends, I walked over to him and asked him to give it a rest...letting him know he wasn't representing himself of the UO very well. No yelling or foul language on my part. I just wanted to draw him away from my friends. He didn't like that. This guy was young, tall, athletic and had a six pack of beer dangling from one hand. So, I assume he as quite drunk.

He instantly got up in my face and challenged me to fight. "You think you're all big and can take me?" he said. Well, there's no way I was going to point. But that's when the depressing thing happened. This meathead's girlfriend grabbed my arm and said, "Please, please...just let it go. I know he's wrong. Just let it go. I've been dating him for eight years and he gets like this."

Stunned, I simply said "OK, we're on the same page" and I let it go. The kid walked ahead and that was that. Oh, in one last classy move, he did yell at his girlfriend and said, "Don't waste your time with that M-F." But, that's the last I saw of him.

I just kept thinking as I walked, "Wow, that kid has got real emotional problems, and his girlfriend is really in over her head dating and staying with someone with those type of anger problems." I really felt bad for her and hoped that this ape wouldn't at some point beat her.

What is it that burns inside some people that make them that incredibly mean, cruel and out of control? To be honest, these two negative incidences put a damper on what should have been a very fun experience - especially for me since the Ducks throttled the Huskies 44-10 on the football field.

Or, should I be equally impressed by all those people who were benign or very nice to my friends in purple? After all, there were far more of them. Does this behavior make up for the atrocious abuse we experienced?

Luckily, I can let this go. However, there's a young girl somewhere in Eugene dating a deeply insecure, immature and angry boyfriend. She and others like her are the ones who really stand to be hurt by the inner rage that some people have inside them. If a mere football game can bring that out so easily, what happens in everyday life?

I guess in the end, we all need to realize that there will always be an a-hole or two (really, really big a-holes) in any crowd and we should do our best not to be taken in by their behavior...but be willing to stand up for what's right and our friends if it goes too far.


Charles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles said...

Marc, I applaud your restraint and understand it also. In addition praise for a GREAT title!

I have in the past years steered clear of sporting events because of these antics; and that is exactly what they are. Some individuals just wait for the opportunity to present themselves in the manner out in public and justify it as "fun and rivalry" all to be anticipated “so lighten up.”

Yes, it is a sad reality that the girlfriend has "raised her hand" for that assignment, I hope she gets extra credit.

Marc said...

Thanks Charles. Indeed, pretty depressing to think about people with personalities like that.

I'm going to another college game later this fall at another campus. I'm going to be taking mental notes on that experience too. We'll see.

All best,

Justin said...

Hey Marc of Seans friends who made the walk with you. It is true that those fans were total jerks and more of a nuisance than anything. But here's an exchange that I really appreciated once we sat down. There is nothing quite as fine as a crisp, to-the-point jab. Please remember I was wearing the WHOREGON DUCKS shirt.

65 year-old man - "Whoregon Ducks eh?"

Me - "Yeah I guess!"

65 year-old man - "So your mom went to Oregon??"

Fantastic. Hilarious.

Marc said...

Hey Justin. Good to hear from you. Also, great to meet you last weekend. Fun hanging out.

I did appreciate your shirt...and I do appreciate the clever jab that fan gave you. Now THAT is quality trash talking. Much better than the other stuff we heard.

I also liked Lisa's reply to the first a-hole when he was saying that the f-ing Huskies were a bunch of "fags." Lisa replied very quickly with, "well, you're the one walking with four guys."

Loved it.

All best,