Judging by what I could find in a few random articles and searches of his work, The Oregonian’s John Canzano is a pretty typical sports columnist with pretty typical HOT SPROTS TAKES that piss a lot of people off, and therefore lead them to read him more and comment on his articles with ham-fisted outrage. I guess that qualifies him as the perfect journalist for an unnamed former Oregon Ducks football player to deliver his complaints to, regarding his own fan experience at Autzen Stadium this past Saturday, as the No. 2 Ducks annihilated the UCLA Bruins 42-14.
This anonymous former player chose to address his issues with Oregon fans in the form of an open letter, and it’s safe to say that he won’t be returning to Autzen anytime soon. Unless, of course, they’d like to honor him or hire him as a coach at some point, because that’s the only reason I can see for him to keep this thing anonymous.
I, for the first time, attended a ducks game as spectator. I was excited to experience tailgating, cheering, and being with friends, rather than the seriousness that comes with preparing for a game. My buddy, whom I had given tickets to all throughout my time as a player, decided he wanted to pay me back and offer me tickets in corner end-zone seats as a regular fan. I accepted his offer with enthusiasm.
We enjoyed seeing friends, shaking hands, and sharing drinks with fellow supporters.
“Hello, fine fellow sports aficionados. My name is… well, my name doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re all here to cheer on our beloved Ducks. RAH RAH, SISK BOOM BAH!”
My friend and I took our seats where I soon became acquainted with the most ignorant people in all of college football. Directly behind me were a couple of drunk (expletive) who criticized Marcus’ ability to throw the football, DeAnthony’s ability to run the football, the lineman’s ability block, and the coach’s ability to analyze film and call plays. After hearing so much ignorant (expletive), I turned around to tell the “fans” to chill the (expletive) out. Marcus had overthrown a receiver on a tough play and the spectator made comment, “Hey, Marcus! Throw it inbounds, dumbass!” in, which I finally had enough, and turned around and asked if he would like to get down there and take Marcus’ place. The man responded, “No”. Then I asked if we were all still rooting for Oregon, in which he responded in an aggressive, irrelevant and incoherent manner and so I decided to discontinue the conversation I had started with him.
Drunk fans at a college game complaining about bad plays? WHY, I NEVER!
I was then verbally attacked by other spectators saying, “you need to keep your (expletive) mouth shut, because you don’t know (expletive) about football.” They claimed that I didn’t know that they had coached college football, and that I had no idea what I was talking about. Ironic to say the least, considering my background and what you know of me, what my old teammates know of me, and what my old coaches know of me.
I did get a hearty laugh out of these people not knowing about this football player’s extensive background while they were finger-wagging him. I mean, everyone knows this unnamed football player takes the game more seriously than any other anonymous players.
Not too long after, a woman a couple seats down yelled for 10 minutes straight about how the players were playing like “(expletive)”. The coaches were being “(expletive)”. The refs were being “(expletive)”. All during the time I was telling my friend how embarrassing it was to have her on our side. And then I started hearing laughter from the surrounding crowd and encouragement of that behavior. Is this really what goes on in the stands? Is this really the type of people we attract???
“Yes,” responded every player and fan on every team in every sport ever.
I remember walking in from fall camp practice and talking to my teammates about how similar our lives were to the TV series Spartacus. We were slaves. We were paid enough to live, eat, and train… And nothing more. We went out on the field where we were broken down physically and mentally every day, only to wake up and do it again on the next. On the outside, spectators placed bets and objectified us. They put us on pedestals and worshipped us for a short time, but only as long as we were winning. In the end, we were just a bunch of dumbass (racial slur) for the owners to whip, and the rich to bet on.
*starts typing, deletes, starts typing, deletes, starts typing, deletes, starts typing, deletes, sighs*
Back when I was in college and the editor of the student newspaper, I was a clueless, ignorant asshole and constantly wrote shit that I look back on and cringe over again and again. It wasn’t until a year or two after I was in the professional world that I realized what a dick I was for writing very childish, critical things about these athletes who were still basically kids. In a lot of ways, I was jealous. They had free educations, free food and they didn’t pay for a single drink at any bar around campus. They were rock stars walking among us with unlimited access to anything that they wanted, with the exception of (legal) money, obviously.
So having seen that firsthand, do I feel bad for any of these guys that they chose to play football, either for an education or, much more likely, the chance to play football for a living and make millions while I sit here and cut check after check for my student loan? Absolutely not. (Now, do I think that college athletes, and specifically football players, should be paid accordingly? Yes, but comparing yourself to people who were driven into forced labor and pushed until they literally dropped dead will never ever work.)
What I described is a business, I know. It’s how it works, and it is something we understand as athletes entering the system, as (expletive) up as it is. For many people entering that system, it’s better than what life has to offer elsewhere. So they take it. But having been on the outside now, to witness this disgusting display of “support”, I know that I want no (expletive) part of it. I will never attend a duck game as a spectator again. I am disgusted by duck fans and I will sit back and observe from afar with high hopes for the player’s success and understanding of their sacrifice, without having to hear the spoiled woes of ignorant fans.
I will always love the ducks: my coaches, my teammates, my brothers and family. The rest… Go (expletive) yourselves.
Signed, the guy who wouldn’t bother putting his name to this, which therefore makes the whole thing deflated and irrelevant.