Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24, 2017

It is now Christmas Eve. In a mere few hours, children all over the nation (and world) will wake up with joy and excitement. Some over the concept of some gifts under the tree, others with the feeling that their faith was fulfilled over two thousand years ago and continues to move forward.

Tonight, I sadly write about neither faith nor hope. Instead, I bring to you the lower reaches of humanity; the condemnation of adults acting like spoiled two-year-old children; men and women with nothing better to do than ridicule and insult a young man because his choice somehow offends your football fandom.

A couple of days ago, I sent out a mini-tweet storm criticizing Scott Wolf for his putrid decision to ruin one young man’s moment. Oregon fans all jumped in to agree with the criticism.
But now it is Oregon fans who need criticism.

It is sometimes difficult to levy criticism at the average fan when a state legislator has already gotten into the negativity with his own subtweet game. When Bill Post took to Twitter to criticize Braden Lenzy, he gave a tacit approval of all future criticism. His comments were widely ridiculed and condemned; even by most Duck fans.

The issue, of course, is that Post made his comments following a decommit; most Oregon fans felt, at the time, that Lenzy would eventually recommit and all would be good. And then he didn’t; and then Duck fans took right back to Twitter and Facebook (as well as fan message boards) to criticize Lenzy.
Somehow, rational men (mostly) and women, seem to think it is okay to post vile, personal insults at a 17-year old simply because he chose the “wrong” (in their hearts and minds) school. All civility was lost; all rational thought was out the window. He was a ‘traitor’ and a ‘weak’ person who was ‘too afraid to compete’ in his home state. I honestly cannot even recount all of the different insults leveled at Braden for his choice.

The most galling, perhaps, is that the vast majority of Duck fans, unwilling to accept a choice of an in-state resident to choose an out-of-state school, questioned whether Lenzy ever actually had any love for Oregon, the football team or its fans. The thing say to that: how dare anyone make such assertions simply because a young man chose a school not named Oregon. It is loathsome that grown men and women feel as if they have some God-given right to ridicule a decision without all the facts.
Look, I get being upset that a coach who, based on player reports, flat out lied to parents and recruits left a program in apparent tatters. I get that it is frustrating some players who had committed to that coach then changed their plans. I don’t really mind expressing frustration on message boards. After all, that is what recruiting sites do; we get information, pass it along and help moderate discussions about the game and the recruits.

But to get personal? That is wrong. Ask yourself if you would want anyone to talk to your own son the way Duck fans talked to Braden Lenzy (and several other recruits)? If someone went on Twitter and harassed your son (or daughter), would you think it okay simply because he or she was an athlete? Doubtful.

I have been a Duck since I was 7 years old. The first time I heard Wendy Ray calling an Oregon football game I was hooked. I went to the Marine Corps and cheered for the Ducks when no one else knew who the hell they were.

When I began covering the team, it was like living in a fantasy. I can tell you this, when I took my sons (now 28 and 25) to the Holiday Bowl in 2000, they were more excited than I have ever seen them.

I can also tell you this: Braden Lenzy felt the same way when his dad got him a ticket to the 2010 BCS National Championship Game. His father, who worked with my wife at Nike, told me that he wanted others to see the video. While the video was not able to be viewed, it shows Braden’s genuine excitement over the game; and about the Ducks.

This was not an easy decision for Lenzy and to pick someone other than Oregon was almost torturous. While it may be disappointing that one of the better athletes in the state of Oregon has chosen Notre Dame, it is unfathomable to me that full grown adults feel they have some right to insult and ridicule the person or the decision.

If you thought what Scott Wolf did was wrong, you should also find ridiculing Lenzy wrong. Any other conclusion would be hypocrisy. This is his moment and to destroy that with vile and despicable ridicule is actually worse than what Wolf did. Wolf made his choice to glorify his own name; those who ridicule Lenzy do so for no other reason than to cause pain.

Bill Post began this and his lead was followed.

I said it the other day; folks, football is entertainment. There are real problems in this world; problems of which we should be fearful. Where a 17-year old chooses to go to college should not be one of those problems. If you find yourself angry at the decision of a 17-year old – I think it is time you step away from the keyboard and find some perspective.