Now that the Madness is over, I can come clean – I can exorcise my guilt, emerge from the shadows, and repent of my sin against my alma mater. I, Ben Nye – a UW Husky, an unabashed Lorenzo Romar fan, and season ticket holder during the worst Washington football season in history – supported the Oregon Ducks during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2016.
This fact is all the more remarkable since I have become more fiercely partisan – if that’s possible – since I moved to Eugene a few years ago. To be sure, it has been a struggle – we never can compete with the Ducks in running events, football has been a disaster, and even basketball – our claim to fame during my time at UW – has fallen well behind Oregon as the ambitious anatidae built better and better teams.
Yet I have eschewed the temptation to become a fair-weather fan. The more Oregon won, the more I supported my Huskies. The better the Ducks recruited, the more the UW Bookstore liked selling me Dawg merchandise. Eugene is hostile country for a Husky but I wore my gear loud and proud, hoping that sometime I would my team – in any sport – would be able to take down Mighty Oregon.
But it was not to be.
In the four years that I’ve lived in Eugene, UW has won nary a men’s basketball game or football game.
This March, I capitulated.
What I saw in the Oregon team – the tremendous team spirit, drive, determination, single-mindedness of focus, and refusal to lose – was the epitome of what a sport’s team is. The team had excellent players, to be sure, but what made the run all the more impressive was that no player was larger than the team, no coach bigger than the school, no personality larger than the goal.
I respect that.
In beating Duke, Oregon did what my Huskies have not been able to do (except against USC, like every single year). They went up against talented players and a legendary coach and not only won but tore the Blue Devils apart. They seemed to gather every rebound, make every assist, steal every loose ball. It was a joy to behold and I was thrilled to cheer them on.
Although the run ultimately ended, the journey was the memory for this reluctant Oregon fan. Thank you.
Rest assured that my first pet will be a dog not a duck, my UW bumper sticker will continue to emblazon my car, and the UW Bookstore will continue to profit from me, but for four weeks in March I was proud to wear green and yellow.