To every individual associated with the University of Oregon, whether they are an incoming freshman or an 80-year-old diehard fan, football game days in Eugene are something special for all.
Combine the rich history of Oregon football with the atmosphere and exquisite scenery surrounding Autzen Stadium and campus, and you’ll find yourself trapped in tradition.
To be honest, there is no wrong way to spend game day in Eugene. Even if you aren’t into football, or don’t know the difference between a quarterback and a linebacker, it’s nearly impossible to not get caught up in the camaraderie associated with being a Duck fan.
It’s difficult to establish a difference between students, faculty and alumni on these days, as older generations walk around like excited seniors on graduation day.
Every person who wakes up on game day immediately realizes there’s something different in the air, a certain buzz or appeal to the day that wasn’t there prior. When putting on the green and yellow colors of Oregon for the day, you can’t help but feel caught up in the history of this storied program.
For every student living on campus, the atmosphere is unlike anywhere in the country. Everyone is excited for the game. Everyone is ready for the euphoria of a win, the agony of defeat and all the drama mixed in between.
If you’re lucky enough to snag a student ticket to the game, the trek from campus to Autzen is pure emotion and elation. Walking over a river and through a forest with hundreds of other students, all wishing for the same outcome, is something only appreciated if you attend.
After emerging through the forest, you’ll have to blink twice to understand what your eyes are seeing and what your brain is trying to comprehend. Thousands of cars, trucks, trailers and tents surround the stadium like clouds do during a cold and wet winter day in Oregon. The only difference is that it “never rains in Autzen Stadium.”
Forget the game itself. Yes, the game is amazing, but it’s the atmosphere and environment provided by the allure of Autzen that makes the day special.
It can all be described in one moment, when the third quarter ends and decades of history take shape.
The Isley Brothers’ song “Shout” vibrates throughout the whole stadium as each fan rises from his or her seat, wailing away as if they’re with John Belushi in Animal House. The scene of 59,000 people singing and dancing to one song perfectly sums up the tradition of college football Saturdays in Eugene.
These days aren’t meant purely for the thrill of victory. They’re meant to bring generations of people and fans together in one moment, to make you a part of history and tradition. All you have to do is “shout.”
**Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Emerald’s “Back to the Books” edition, which is currently available in locations throughout Eugene.**
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter: @Ryan_Kostecka