This is your soapbox. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
A while back, I wrote a rather scathing critique of the Oregon Pit Crew, and the general ATQ consensus was that the Pit Crew is not among the elite cheering sections in the country. The reader response was tremendous. I heard from a number of passionate Duck fans who ranged from miffed to irate at my stance, fans who get to games early to get a spot in the front rows, who yell themselves hoarse twice a week in the hopes that they can contribute to an Oregon win. And how dare I pass judgment on them! What gives me the right to berate and criticize the Pit Crew from the comfort of Internet anonymity? I must be a grouchy old curmudgeon who sits alone in his apartment at night and thinks about how awesome a Duck fan I am and how every other Duck fan is somehow inferior because they don't have a soapbox from which to shout nonsense, before crying myself to sleep because my parents don't love me.
I have a forum, and in that forum I will speak. I am a Duck fan in good times and in bad, and I know the overwhelming majority of you are too. Hearing your passion makes me worry less that the national media misrepresents Oregon by choosing to focus on the superficial aspects of our school and our program, or that we are gaining the infamy and scorn that comes with being an elite athletic department. We are all Ducks, together and always. On to the letter...
Dear Pit Crew,
What was it, that lit the fire? Was it the Washington schools coming to town? Was it the new arena luster beginning to wear off, allowing us to focus on the task at hand? Whatever it was, we should bottle it and ration it out for the final three home games. The arena was loud, it was full (mostly), and it led us to an improbable sweep of the Fuskies and Cougars. This wasn't the Pit Crew that chanted during our team's crucial crunch-time free throws against USC. This wasn't the Pit Crew that shuts up when the other team goes on a run. This was a smarter Pit Crew, one filled with passion and the belief that, if they work as one unit, they can influence the course of a game.
Every game should feel like a rivalry game, and the rivalry games should feel like Matthew Knight Arena is going to explode. Don't stop because it isn't the Beavers or Fuskies. The team the Ducks are playing that night should receive 100% of your palpable hate. Don't stop because it's a Thursday night and you've got a quiz in the morning. That's why man invented coffee and Red Bull, and that's why you can switch to Pass/No Pass as late as Week 7. Don't stop because the team isn't talented. They are Ducks, and because they are Ducks they are idols, worthy of our highest praise. Don't stop because you think you aren't making a difference. This team wouldn't be 13-12 without you.
Oregon alumni remember their days in the Pit Crew as being the best because they have the memories you are living now. They remember their hearts pounding in anticipation of another Civil War. They remember it being so loud it is impossible to think, and all that can be done is to just scream at the top of their lungs along with a thousand of their closest friends. They remember leaving the arena after a game knowing, win or lose, they were an integral part of the Duck family that night. When you look back on your college years, remember your Pit Crew as being the best because you made it the best.