Steve looked at my bright green shirt and said, “That’s the second time in three days you’ve been wearing Duck stuff.”
He’s one of my two Seattleite sons, the one who has decided life’s too short to expend any of it caring about spectator sports. The other one bleeds green and yellow after many years of University of Oregon transfusions from his father. Dave might even drive all the way down to Crescent City to watch Monday night’s national championship football game with his old man.
I was the one on the road over the holidays, and yes, I took along plenty of Duck gear. Then I stocked up on more for Christmas presents to make sure other members of my family were clad in green for the big game. It wasn’t hard to find once I crossed the border into the, ahem, Beaver State.
When it comes to Duck fever, the merchandise gurus aren’t missing a beat. Oregon stores are full of UO paraphernalia, and it goes beyond the typical shirts, commemorative footballs and other trinkets. In the display window of a Salem furniture store was a full-size recliner upholstered in Duck green with a giant O. Just off I-5, a huge carnival ride was painted green and yellow and decked out with logos galore.
I actually kept most of my own UO stuff in a suitcase until later in the road trip when we entered Washington. Wearing it in Oregon is like preaching to the choir. Behind enemy lines, it’s a bit more provocative. In Spokane it spurred mostly amiable discussions with strangers about the Ducks’ chances come Monday. Things were a bit edgier in Seattle. I really enjoyed wearing my yellow hat with the big green O into an ale house where University of Washington fans clustered around TV screens, watching their Huskies compete in a minor bowl game.
I’ve got a feeling a lot of UW fans will be rooting for Auburn – not the town down the road from Seattle, but the university in Alabama that also happens to be participating in the championship game.
Do Washingtonians really think their neighbors in Oregon will be hard to live with if the Ducks win the national championship?
Promoting his newspaper’s coverage plans, the sports editor of The Statesman-Journal in Salem wrote that a UO win on Monday would be the state’s biggest sports accomplishment since the Portland Trail Blazers won the pro basketball championship in 1977.
As a college student, I witnessed that event in the living room of my parents’ Salem home. I still call Dad, now 90, after every big Ducks victory. Come Monday night, he’ll be wearing the Oregon football shirt I gave him for Christmas, and hopefully he and Mom, 88, will be violating the noise regulations at their retirement apartment complex.
Like we did there on Christmas Eve when various family members burst into an enthusiastic but off-key rendition of the Oregon fight song, complete with “da da das” to cover for some forgotten lyrics.
C’mon Steve, life’s too short to not embrace moments such as this.