Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013
Today, local columnist included a slightly redacted version of a letter he received with its origins from a former player. John Canzano was ambiguous at best describing the player to protect his identity, likely at the former players request.

While some would love to speculate that the letter was fiction; the work of a rival fan whose only goal is to embarrass the fan base, reality says that this is highly unlikely.

I know many think that I have some personal vendetta or issue with Canzano, and, well, that just simply is not true. I have not always approved of his content or style and have expressed such dissatisfaction openly.

On only one occasion has john ever said something to me or about me to which I took personal offense; and I met with him and quickly resolved that issue.

While I wouldn't exactly classify as as friends, nor would anyone likely consider as colleagues, we have a cordial enough relationship that I feel comfortable greeting him in the press box and exchanging whatever pleasantries seem appropriate.

When I first started writing on this blog and then for Duck Sports Authority, there was also speculation that many of the traditional journalists had some sort of disdain for me, I can say that I have found that to be mostly untrue. Most of the traditional journalists, those who work for newspapers, went to journalism school, etc., have treated me with a great deal of respect for which I am immensely grateful.

Reading today's letter from the unnamed former player smells nothing like a fabrication. But it does give some insights into a world many of us do not truly comprehend.

Now, the writer tells us some deeply worrisome facts about the fans he experienced.

Quite honestly, there are a lot of bad fans... but I think this former player probably needs to take a reality check. A football game is a cross section of America. There are dumb people everywhere and you have to deal with them every single day. That's part of life.

The bigger problem is that he has made himself no better as a person than those he criticizes in  this letter. By assuming that all Duck fans respond in the manner he experienced in a small section of the stands, he belittles himself in the process. No. Not all fans act like those around him did Saturday. No, not all fans stand by and let that happen.

I sit in the stands (rarely now, though) and have not experienced the same degree of stupidity... but I also have learned to filter out much of the stupidity that surrounds us every day. If i had not done that, I would have gone insane a LONG time ago.

"Eff the fans?" Okay. And how does that make you feel? How's that working for you? Reality is that, without the fans, there are no scholarships. Look no further than non-revenue sports. If not for Title IX, there would be considerably fewer athletic scholarships handed out.

You have to take the good with the bad. That's what true fans do every year. Do we stop going to games after the first loss? No. Did the fans stop supporting the team last season after the Stanford game? No.

So you ran across some idiots, and because of a few idiots you are willing to disparage all who share a similar affiliation with the team? That does not reflect well on YOUR maturity. Life isn't perfect. There are bad people everywhere.

You can go into a cocoon, or you can revel with those who are the better fans, or you can give up entirely.

I would have hoped that your coaches taught you better than to give up.

Come to a tailgate with me and you will see a different type of fan.

In fact, I challenge the former player to have a real discussion' openly' with fans in a town hall forum. No anger; no paranoia; just a cross section of fans who can show the proof that not all fans are as he saw on Saturday.

Other former players have already talked openly about the subject. Former Duck Nick Cody was open through twitter that he knows the problem, but has a different approach.

"I've been treated badly by fans of many schools. My own included. But never hold it against the school or fans as a whole."

Isn't that a much better approach than to lace a letter with nothing but profanity in an angry response?

I say absolutely.

Look, there are bad people in this world. There are bad people inside Autzen; and Reser, and the Coliseum and every other football stadium. Over the last several years I have travelled to many stadiums around the country. LSU fans were in denial when I told them about the experiences I had in Dallas. They simply would not believe how poorly I was treated.

Fans in Knoxville, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Phoenix have all been overwhelmingly courteous in how they chose to treat the visitor from Oregon. That does not mean that there were no bad apples.

You have to choose how you respond to the negativity that surrounds you in this world. You can close your eyes, get angry and vow to never again acknowledge the negativity through your own denial, or you can choose to celebrate the goodness that IS out there.

I have been int eh same section for 15 years; watched the family behind me grow up; the two sons were like 10 and 7 when I started sitting in those seats. Now they are both college graduates and incredibly generous, respectful people.

So some fans were drunk and obnoxious. So?

What did this player think fans did after a bad play? Cheer anyway?

Football is an emotional sport. As someone who played at the college level, was a strength coach at the college level and has been a season ticket holder for 16 seasons and fan my entire life, I can say that it is very emotional for everyone involved.

Fans invest a lot of time and money in this sport and take everything that happens as a part of that investment in their soul. I know that players don't want to always hear this, but fans feel the losses too. Fans spend a lot of money and scream their lungs out trying to help the team in the only way they can. They too feel frustrations and they too will voice their frustrations.

It's heat of the moment stuff.

Does this excuse boorish behavior? Absolutely not. But to expect football fans to respond like they are at the opera is a little naive at best.

So I reiterate my open statement; meet with a group of fans. Talk to more people than the small cross-section of fans you experienced last Saturday. Maybe you will find out that rash judgements serve no one.


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