College football is an oddly pagan experience. Every Saturday, tens of thousands of people get up, drink various foul smelling tonics with exotic names like “Busch”, and then flock to a gigantic concrete and steel circle to watch two groups of burly men beat the everloving fuck out of each other in pursuit of a small object that is ostensibly made out of a pig’s skin. Meanwhile, beautiful women dance suggestively, people dress up like animals, and ordinarily respectable musicians throw all sense of proper playing and common decency out the window in favor of making as much noise as possible and being total dicks to the other team. Keep in mind, all of this happens on the campus of an organization devoted to enhancing human knowledge.
Home games are a pretty exciting time at the University of Oregon, as I guess they probably are at just about every school in the country save for the University of Self Loathing (which, of course, is in El Paso). They offer the student body a chance to get drunk; this isn’t special in and of itself, because the average college student sees every occasion in life (funerals, weddings, baptisms, traffic court appearances, AA meetings) as an opportunity to get trashed just waiting to happen, but at a football game there’s the lucrative nature of The First Law Of Conservation Of Drunk Assholes, a fascinating mob mentality wherein thousands of inebriated people unite behind a common goal. The First Law has been the cause of several major world events, such as Stonehenge and all of Irish history.*
*Yeah, I did just reinforce a negative stereotype about Irish-Americans. Thing is, even though I’m not Irish, I feel like I’m entitled to say this sort of crap, because if there’s one type of politically correct discrimination we Anglo-Americans of European descent are entitled to anymore, it’s discrimination against other Anglo-Americans of European descent. I’m sure my Irish friends will agree with me, and as we speak they are no doubt cooking up some really blistering jokes about Finland.
At the heart of The First Law is the timeless, ageless principle of “Fuck those guys!”, which itself is a simplified version of Newton’s Second Law Of I Hate Everyone Who Isn’t Me. To embrace the philosophy of “Fuck those guys!” is to look into your heart and recognize that Those Guys suck, and that the only way to prove to them how much they suck is to beat them at organized sports and/or a drinking contest.
If you’ve ever been to a college football game, you’ll notice that the announcer refers to the opposing team as “Our guests”. However, while the announcer will take pains to refer to the other team diplomatically and thank them for accepting the home team’s invitation to play, the students at the game will treat the other team’s players and fans as one would a burglar who breaks into his or her house, sets the cat on fire, and subscribes to a bunch of junk mailing lists using that address. I’ve seen all kinds of things – tailgaters from one team casting nasty looks toward the tailgaters from another team, shouting matches between fans using adjacent urinals, the occasional full on fistfight… Last year, I watched as all 5000 18 to 22 year olds in the student section jumped to their feet and booed a passing 10 year old in a Cal sweatshirt. They all seemed really pleased with themselves afterwards – and hey, who wouldn’t be? I mean, that kid went running.
Yesterday, U of O played Boise State, and we lost. There isn’t much more to say about the game than that – I think the only way we really could have won was if we’d scored more points than they did, and that clearly didn’t happen. In the fourth quarter, as it became obvious that we weren’t going to win, the stands began to get mysteriously empty as our fans skipped out on the last of the game rather than see things through to their horribly depressing conclusion. What this proves is that the “Fuck those guys” mentality only lasts as long as our team is winning – when we start to lose, the motto quickly becomes, “I strongly disagree with the fact that your team has the gaul to try and score more points than my team, and I would love to discuss this with you but I think I hear my Mom calling so I’d better get going.”
On the walk home from the stadium, I passed by a group of Oregon fans wearing handmade T-shirts that read, “I JUST FARTED… AND IT SMELLED LIKE BOISE STATE!” Sure, these guys may have been about as creative as a sack full of hammers in terms of T shirt slogans,* but let’s at least applaud them for 1) Staying for the entire game, and B) Wearing those shirts all the way home. It takes true courage to admit that your team received a serious whooping from an opponent that, by your own definition, smells like farts.
*“Win Or Lose… At Least I Don’t Have To Go Home To Idaho!”
“Boise Isn’t A State – Dur-Hey!”
“[Picture of an Elmer’s Glue bottle with the Boise State Broncos on it]”
“Idaho – Oregon’s New Jersey!”
All of these are just off the top of my head. Come on, guys. Don’t hide behind flatulence.
Critical as I may be of the classless elements of college football, I can’t help but love it. There are few people in the world more foul than the Oregon trumpets – during basketball games, I’ve screamed things at USC’s players that would make George Carlin weep tears of blood – and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every minute of earning college credit for being a highly obnoxious and abrasive fan with a loud instrument clutched in my right hand (keeping my left free for whatever rude gestures the situation may call for). Sure, maybe it was uncivilized of me to start a Facebook group branding Cal’s mascot as a pedophile. Maybe it was not proper social decorum for me to say that all of Oregon State’s sports teams were fathered by drunk farmers and sheep. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t PC for me to call the University of Washington an overrated excuse for a two-bit community college. But that’s okay – it’s sports!
In ancient Rome, people got together in huge stadiums and watched gladiators beat the everloving fuck out of one another. Football is very much the same thing – it’s a violent and highly competitive sport, only this one doesn’t involve Russel Crowe. Back then, the Romans blew off steam by watching people kill one another, nowadays we blow off steam in a pretty similar way. So what if we go a little overboard in our response? It’s healthy to sacrifice manners every once and awhile – all the better that you should do it in a large crowd when alcohol is within reach.
Truman Capps hates Boise State and their highfalutin’ blue turf.