I went to my first Oregon Ducks game last weekend. Not really being a football fan, or a sports fan in general, I just wanted to go for the experience. And let me just say wow, an experience it was, indeed! The stands were packed with Duck fans in green, yellow, and black. Apparently there is a theme color every game which the fans are supposed to wear. Who knew? The Duck fans knew the same cheers and songs, they gave out high fives like parents give out candy on Halloween, and they danced like they were backing up Beyonce. Being a Duck fan is like being in this exciting, exclusive club, like the Babysitter’s Club except with adults, and beer.
It was amazing to watch and be a part of for those few hours, but guess what?
I don’t want in.
Attending a Ducks game helped me realize I am an even bigger dork than I ever realized. I think I watched the people around me, the cheerleaders, and then band more than I watched the actual game. When everyone was cheering and clapping, I didn’t feel compelled to join in, I felt compelled to watch the human interactions around me. I spied the Cougar fans around me and wondered if they felt out of place, or even a little uneasy as they were outnumbered easily ten to one (but probably much more). I stared at the young children sporting Ducks gear and painted face and wondered how young their parents had started conditioning them to love “Our Ducks.” I looked on as grown men threw tantrums when refs made a call they didn’t like. I also gazed at young love-struck couples bonding over a shared love for sports, and old couples with walkers and canes snuggling together, sharing what has possibly been a dating tradition of theirs for decades. I watched college students find a place where they felt they truly belonged, and friends bond over tradition. And the few times I actually watched the game, I saw a team of men who were dedicated so strongly to a cause that they put their sweat, heart, and possibly even their soul into it. So please, don’t get me wrong, I think that the sports culture in America can be fun and healthy, and a great place to seek unity. It’s just not who I am.
I do have one major issue with American sports:
In a moment of clarity, my mind was put at unease when I realized that I might be safer at a Ducks game than a child (or adult) in an American public school. THAT is what really got me thinking about our American values. When I walked into that stadium, my purse was checked. There were police officers and security guards stationed EVERYWHERE. I felt safe. I want my kids to feel that safe when they go to school.
America, do we love our children as much as we love our sports? Just a thought I’m mulling over…