Sunday, October 25, 2009

That's not the letter "O" on their helmets, it's a zero

Purple and gold—the two most noble colors in the spectrum. Yes, I'm a Husky, born and bred. I hail from a family of UW alumni—my brother, sister, wife and me. Whenever I mention to my wife that the Huskies are playing a crucial, must-win, do-or-die game, she'll brush it off with something like, "To you, it's important. To me, it means nothing. It's a game." So, even though she's actually a "Double Husky," with both Bachelors and Masters degrees from our fine institution, she couldn't care less about the snarling dogs of Montlake.
My brother is her polar opposite. He could view, back-to-back, Schindler's List, Terms of Endearment, Brian's Song and Love Story, and shed nary a tear. But subject him to a disappointing Husky loss and he requires a good five days to re-supply his brain's serotonin levels. Such was the case yesterday.
He and I arrived at the UW campus in high spirits. It's difficult not to be excited, arriving at a beautiful college campus on a sunny Fall afternoon, the leaves swirling around the massive, gothic structures. A pilgrimage of purple-clad supporters snaked its way through campus and down to Husky Stadium, with a smattering of green-and-yellow-adorned Oregon Duck fans infiltrating the procession. I've always felt that the object found in nature which most simulates Oregon's green is a sinus infection, and it heavily clashed with the regal purple which represents Washington.
We arrived at the stadium and found our seats just as the national anthem was being belted out by the Husky Marching Band, the opening kick-off just minutes away. The cantilevered design of Husky Stadium funnels all crowd noise directly onto the field, which can prove to be distracting and intimidating to UW opponents. As usual, the roar was deafening.
The Huskies stopped the Ducks on their first possession, forcing them to punt and giving the purple and gold faithful some rightly-deserved optimism. Without droning on about what later ensued, let's just say that was the apex our football day.
Just to give some perspective to the Oregon-Washington rivalry, it dates back to 1900, with the Huskies holding a 57-39-5 advantage. Washington dominated the series up until the 1990s, and once the tables turned, Oregon felt no compunction in running up the score on its northern rival with impunity. The games are marked by frequent scuffles, both on the field among the players, and off the field among the drunken masses of college kids. A Duck fan can feel relatively safe wearing his or her school colors to the game in Seattle, but beware the consequences of wearing purple and gold as you make your way toward Autzen Stadium for a football contest in Eugene, Oregon.
The Huskies lost yesterday, 43-19, and unfortunately, the inferiority complex deep inside a lot of Duck Nation surfaced on the way out of the stadium. I heard one guy say, "We don't even care about this game anymore. We always win." I wanted to ask him why he drove 300 miles to watch something about which he didn't care.
The day was still fun. I got to hang out with my brother and take part in a ritual that never loses its luster. And Duck fans, call me when you win a Rose Bowl.

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