Sports are funny. If folks in this country cared half as much about the political process as they do about football, we’d all be living in some elegant utopia right now. Even casual sports fans can hold a civil, intelligent discussion about the pros and cons of the nickel defense, but bring up Obamacare and most of us degenerate into retrograde morons, hurling incoherent epithets at each other. Politics these days have become a nightmare, but football — it’s our religion. And that’s sad.
Behold, for instance, the Ducks. It took decades of desolation to revitalize downtown Eugene after infinite botched attempts, yet all the while the UO continued to build glittery castles to holy sports, the latest of which, the student-athlete building on Franklin, is a gaudy testament to conspicuous deification. Follow the money, and you find the passion.
Part of our passion for sports derives, in large part, from the unscripted drama of competition. Unlike politics, which we now behold as a repetitive, cynical sump of corruption and failure, any given sporting event drops us into raw adventure, where the tension of expectations is relieved not by words but by action. Strip away the pre- and post-game bullshit, and the pure spectacle of sports is like Greek drama, full of unpredictable triumphs and tragedies.
And it all means nothing, in the long run. That’s why we like it. We get all worked up, but the consequences cost us nothing, really — maybe 20 bucks and a pissy mood.
There were some Ducks fans in a pissy mood Oct. 2, when the Arizona Wildcats squelched a last minute UO drive by stripping the ball from quarterback Marcus Mariota, ending the game with 31-24 upset of the No. 2 ranked team in the country. And that’s another funny thing about sports, the way an otherwise overmatched team can seem to own a particular rival. It’s called the Kryptonite Factor, and Arizona appears to have it against the Ducks, who they thumped last year 42-16.
One of the most overused and pointless clichés in sports is the idea that a team “controls its own destiny.” All that means is if they win, they win, and even Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez admitted that beating the Ducks earlier this season involved a dose of luck. Regardless of destiny, the Ducks did look more in control during their Civil War shellacking of the Beavers, which bodes well for the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday.
But as Henry Ford famously said, history is bunk. Let the drama begin.