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ILLUSTRIOUS OREGON SPORTS.

Byline: Greg Bolt The Register-Guard

OK, Oregon sports fans, it's time for your turn in the spotlight.

This week's issue of Sports Illustrated features a six-page spread on Oregon, the 48th state to be profiled in the magazine's 50-state tour marking its 50th anniversary. But according to SI's "Enthuse-O-Meter" poll, in which residents are asked to rate their state's sports enthusiasm on a scale of 1 to 100, one wonders if all those extra issues hitting newsstands today will be necessary.

Oregon registers a tepid 68.2, 42nd of the 48 states surveyed so far and tied with South Dakota.

But no matter. The issue comes out, not coincidentally, just in time for the annual Prefontaine Classic this weekend at Hayward Field, the event the magazine touts as being uniquely Oregon. It's an all-star meet with a who's-who cast that gets plenty of national attention anyway, but organizer Tom Jordan welcomes the extra help.

"We are always tickled when small publications like Sports Illustrated take recognition of us," he said.

But Jordan was happy enough with the national limelight that he didn't even mind that the magazine - or at least its online version - picked former NBA star and North Eugene High alum Danny Ainge as the state's all-time best athlete and relegated Prefontaine to a position he rarely held: second place.

The list of the 50 greatest Oregon athletes also includes Terry Baker, Oregon State University's star quarterback who brought home the Heisman Trophy in 1962. Baker penned an essay for the issue in which he contends that the rivalry between the state's two powerhouse teams - his Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks - isn't really so fierce as all that.

But he may want to do a rewrite after Beaver Nation gets its hands on the magazine.

One of the questions included in the 414-person poll by Harris Interactive asked Oregon sports fans to name their favorite college.

The answer: the UO was selected by 41 percent, OSU by 23 percent.

Ever diplomatic, UO Athletic Director Bill Moos attributed the lopsided result to Oregon's strong marketing campaign winning over newer residents and those without ties to one school or the other. Still, he was happy to hear it.

"Oh, that's good," Moos said when he heard the numbers. "That's welcome news."

The issue is full of similar sports nuggets, like Shaquille O'Neal beating out Rick Neuheisel for the honor of being Oregon's "Enemy of the State." Third place went to Rasheed Wallace.

And speaking of the former Trail Blazer, his ex-team easily won as the state's favorite NBA team. The Trail Blazers' popularity might not be all that deep, however. Only 15 percent of respondents chose them as their favorite pro sports team, but that still was enough to edge out the Seattle Mariners' 10 percent and land the Blazers in first place.

O'Neal apparently didn't take his "enemy" vote too seriously. He helped select the magazine's Oregon all-American teen, an honor that went to Marist High's Blake Westling, a football and baseball player whose profile was included in last week's Sports Illustrated.

What sport don't Oregonians like? Pro hockey, hands down. Asked to name their favorite team, 6 percent said the Detroit Red Wings and 62 percent said none.

And even though Sports Illustrated put Ainge at the top of the state's all-time list, Oregonians thought otherwise.

The No. 5 Oregon athlete in the poll was former Blazer Bill Walton, fourth place went to UO gridiron star and Detroit Lion Joey Harrington, third to UO and NFL quarterback Dan Fouts (who didn't even make SI's 50 best) and second to Trail Blazer great Clyde Drexler.

Crossing the finish line first - as usual - was Steve Prefontaine.

SI POLL

Here are a few of the results from Sports Illustrated's survey of 414 Oregonians

STATE ENEMY

Shaquille O'Neal 27%

Rick Neuheisel 12%

Rasheed Wallace 14%

BIGGEST RIVAL

UW 52%

GREATEST STATE ATHLETE

Steve Prefontaine 16%

Clyde Drexler 15%

Dan Fouts 14%

FAVORITE COLLEGE Oregon 41%

FAVORITE TV SPORT Football 82%

CAPTION(S):

Oregon once again is on the cover of the famed national sports magazine.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports; National magazine gives state's fans a little something to talk about
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 17, 2004
Words:684
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