Last Saturday I attended the big University of Oregon vs. University of Washington college football game in Seattle. This is a pretty heated rivalry and outside of what actually happens on the field, there is a healthy hate between both sets of fans. Personally, I think hating someone because they went to or support a different school is crazy. But, I think many would disagree with that.
Anyway, the rivalry between fans for this annual game always carries the potential for poor to dangerous behavior. Below is my report on what I saw...
The first thing to say is that 99% of all fans from both schools were just fine. No aggression, no comments, no issues whatsoever.
However, it's always those "special" few that stick out at any college football game. No school's fan bases are immune. Usually the common denominators for a first class football fan a-hole are: 1) alcohol and 2) a very, very limited vocabulary. Such was the case again this weekend in Seattle.
For those of you who think that I am about to share stories only about boorish UW fan behavior, please be advised that I was particularly sicked by what I witnessed the last time I went to an Oregon-Washington football game down in Eugene. You can read about that here:
As for the game this past weekend at Husky Stadium, all I can tell you is what I personally observed. With that in mind, here are some things that unfolded in front of me...
I went with a buddy of mine who is a Husky fan, and he was wearing all purple. So, with me sporting Duck colors, I would have thought that we'd be a target from both sides just for that. But, not the case. We chatted up a couple Oregon fans who had come up for the game as we waited to pick up our will call tickets. No issues at all.
Very briefly as we stood there, a small pack of drunk UW students walked by shouting "Or-e-gon Sucks!" One of the guys was particularly fat and wore a stuffed duck on a noose around his neck. Nice. But, no big deal...just drunk fat guys at a football game.
In the stands
Because I bought my tickets through the UO ticket office, our seats were in the visitors section. Good for me of course, but big points to my buddy for sitting there with me. However, he received no aggression at all from Oregon fans. So, that was good.
The only thing I saw in the Oregon section that I'd call offensive was a guy about five rows below us who - even before the game started - was attempting to lead the cheer of "F-the-Huskies" with the full f-word being used of course. A few people indulged for a minute, but it quickly petered out. The same guy and his buddy would also give the full bird to the field when the Huskies were kicking off or receiving a kick off. Classes? Yes. Lame? Yes. Uncreative? Yes. A physical danger to anyone? No.
This is when the uglies came out. Three incidences stick out:
At halftime, the concourse if crowded with people. As we walked through the crowd, all of sudden in front of me I hear a "hey man" and a coffee cup goes flying out of someones hand. I quickly see the guy losing his coffee was a Duck fan. In a second, I see is a guy in Husky garb walking very fast and very straight by that guy and right toward me. As he walked by his shoulder clipped mine and I said something profound like "Hey!" I turned my head around to follow the guy with my eyes and he just kept on motoring in a straight line through eh crowd...moving for nobody.
So, what you had there was a probably drunk guy deciding that he was going to walk straight through the crowd without moving...and colliding with a few Oregon fans along the way. Nice.
OK, so we made it to the bathroom line. The entrance to the facilities is located on the outer wall of the stadium, so if you look from the entrance of the john up to the lip of the stadium, you can see the backs and heads of fans whose seats are at the top of the stadium right there. Except in this case one of those fans - a fat, drunk UW guy who I would guess was between the ages of 45 and 55 years old - had turned around and was verbally haranguing anyone in green or yellow that he could. He was like a UW ogre spewing hate down from his perch. His comments were mostly along the lines of "How many Rose Bowls do you have? Zero!" "You suck" and "F-you."
Now, those are not exactly unexpected taunts, but what disturbed me most was the vitriolic way this guy was speaking - the vile hate - and what would motivate that behavior. Why would a middle age guy decide that he wanted to turn around and verbally accost people? How deep must that guy's lack of self respect or self worth be if that's what he thought would be a good idea? Sad really.
Since the guy was pretty much addressing me and the only other two Duck fans in the line, I answered his taunts about the Rose Bowls with "that might be....but at least we're not fat and ugly." That got a few laughs from both Oregon and Washington fans with me in the line. I could tell that the UW fans next to me we kind of embarrassed of this guy. I said to one guy, "No matter what school you support, you don't ever want to end up being that guy." He agreed. As I got closer and closer to the bathroom entrance - and therefore more directly underneath the ogre - I expected him to spit on me or throw something, but he didn't.
Finally, and the worst incident of the evening, occurred after this as we stood in the concession line. Suddenly I feel someone colliding into me from behind while hearing "Oregon sucks!" I catch the guy, turn around and see that it's a Duck fan who has been shoved into me. A few feet away is a wild eyed guy who had shoved the Duck fan. A few surrounding people - including the guy who was shoved - said, "hey man, what's your problem?" This just hyped the aggressor up more. He shouted that he was ready to fight and started pogoing up and down saying "lets go!" The action was about five yards from me by this point and I stood back and watched as scuffling occurred...and just before it looked like fists would start flying a couple other guys came in...not sure if they were Dawg or Duck fans (probably UW)...and somehow got the crazy guy out of there. The remaining UW and UO fans were uniformly confused and embarrassed by the out-of-control fan.
Nothing happened on the way out of the stadium or on the way home on the bus. Duck fans were happy to win in Seattle, and Husky fans were subdued due to the loss.