Rabid Fans or Civilized?

I was in Santa Clara last weekend during the Pac-12 football playoffs between Oregon and Arizona. My flight from PDX to San Jose Thursday evening had so many Duck fans that we could have turned off the engines, stuck our Duck-feathered arms out the windows, and flapped. That evening at the hotel, a couple Oregon fans and a couple Arizona fans were checking in; the fans were civil to each other, exchanging pleasantries.

Saturday morning breakfast at the hotel revealed Duck fans (still wearing green and gold) and the Arizona fans (wearing their school symbol), chatting as we all got our food. No gloating, no recriminations, no hard feelings. Fans who had spent hundreds (thousands?) of dollars to see a game understood that it is just a game, and that life will go on.

The spirit of civilization trumped blind partisanship. That’s a good thing, because it is the basis on which we can move forward.

I saw the same phenomenon when we lived in Stow, Massachusetts, which was governed by Town Meeting (true democracy in action – only the Town Meeting had the authority to make important decisions, including budgets). At the close of the meetings, I watched to men who had been vociferously opposed on several issues walk out arm in arm, chuckling, and head to the nearest pub to celebrate another “fun” town meeting. All rancor had disappeared.

Where have you experienced this phenomenon? Could this be replicated at work? At home? In other organizations that you serve?

Gary Langenwalter


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