Sunday, June 5, 2011

A cautionary tale from the Palouse

When success comes to their beloved football team, fans begin to think that it is a birthright and a certain wave of the future. They will swill their beer with a new carelessness and puff out their chests, become prideful and swagger throughout the conference as if they own it. The caravans of motor homes grow large, loud and boastful on the freeway, decorated with inordinate pride as they hog the fast lane on the way to another beatdown of another hated rival. The succession of storied victories swell their head. Arrogance becomes a drug stronger than meth. It ravages the conscience and the memory. "We rule," becomes the thinking. "We can do anything. We cannot be stopped." The team becomes an extension of themselves. What was once one modest bumper sticker becomes a collection of hats, coffee mugs and cubicle pennants, until the identification and affection becomes the center of our identity. We wear Duck jackets and tote Duck golf bags. If it could, our blood would bleed a different color. We bookmark half a dozen websites and count the days until the opening of fall practice and opening game, fully immersed in the heady baptism of dominance and glory.

Ask the fans of Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame how quickly and miserably it can all go away. Ask Washington fans, or Gators, Longhorns, Volunteers or Bulldogs. Hire Lane Kiffin and see how fast a program can unravel. Ask the Awww-buuurrrnn Ti-gers in about a year. Better yet, ask the faithful of the Washington State Cougars, our near neighbors, our dopplegangers across the fertile high plains.

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