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No justifying UO fans' spirit of rudeness.

Byline: Bob Welch The Register-Guard

Maybe it was the f-bombs aimed at the Huskies.

Or, against Utah State, hearing the boos ring out to welcome a University of Oregon quarterback in his second game at Autzen Stadium, a kid who'd done practically everything right until he fumbled.

Or seeing a fan taking a leak in a homeowner's shrubs just off Garden Way and a neighbor swearing at the guy, threatening to call the cops, and the leaker acting as if the homeowner was infringing on his constitutional right to keep and bare - well, you get the idea.

All I know is that after two UO football games, I'm already tired of fans who think what they need is another beer when what they really need is a life.

I'm all for getting wild and crazy at games, but I've never had much tolerance for folks who, say, think it's cool to chant "F--- the Huskies." And I have even less tolerance after watching the Olympic Trials in Eugene this summer, an experience that reminded me of how classy sports fans can be.

Number of fans ejected by Eugene police from Hayward Field in eight days of the Olympic Trials: None.

Number of fans ejected in UO's first two home football games: 90, or 163 if you throw in the UO Department of Public Safety's stats.

"Football fans and track fans are very different dynamics," says Eugene Police Capt. Steve Swenson, who worked Hayward and Autzen.

Most notably, track and field fans respect the athletes they're watching and the fellow fans around them. Too many UO football fans respect nobody beyond themselves, a sad irony given their classless behavior.

Their "it's-all-about-me" act has grown way old. In particular, the student section's f-bomb chants have gone far beyond the defense of "those wacky college kids."

The problem here isn't a lack of police, security or attention to the matter from the UO Athletic Department. Autzen is crawling with cops and blue windbreakers. Punishment has stiffened for those who are ejected.

The problem is rude fans whose civility levels plummet as their blood alcohol content levels rise.

Of course, when you suggest as much, the offenders - see local sports blogs - will counter with a defense that leaks more than Utah State's: Fans at other schools act way worse than us, they'll say.

First, having been in a few such venues, I'd argue that some UO fans behave at least as badly as fans elsewhere. (The literal swinging of dead ducks outside OSU's Reser Stadium notwithstanding.)

Second, even if we assume there could possibly be a lower rung on the bad-taste ladder, why would we somehow think we need to lower ourselves to it?

"I'm a student and I'm often embarrassed, most often by drunk UO students," wrote one blogger.

As for fans who justify their over-the-top behavior by their simple passion to win, I've got news: You're not helping the cause. After the national publicity UO gained last winter for its Mac Court attack on UCLA's Kevin Love - a Sports Illustrated story led with the anecdote about rude signs and chants aimed at him - do you think some blue-chip high schooler is going to find UO all the more attractive?

Nobody's asking Autzen fans to become duck-lipped church mice. Sports should offer a release. But there's a fine line between wildness and crassness.

If you don't know where the line is, ask yourself if you'd mind people, say, dropping f-bombs on you or peeing on your shrubs.

Or notice how much track fans enjoy their sport without being boorish or blitzed.

Bottom line: The only people who find rudeness cool are other rude people. So do the rest of us a favor:

Grow up.

Bob Welch is at 338-2354 and His blog is at
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Title Annotation:City/Region Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 11, 2008
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