Hey ’Cats. It’s my favorite time of the year: playoff season. With so many Linfield sports (golf, softball, baseball and tennis) heading to the Division III playoffs and with the NHL and NBA elimination rounds well underway, there’s
never a shortage of good, hard competition to feast on in late spring.
On the subject of playoffs, I was lucky enough to land tickets for Game 4 of Portland’s first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks on April 23. I’ve been to Blazer games before and seen the raucous Rose Garden fans, but this was a beast like nothing I’ve ever seen. Every time Dallas touched the ball, “DE-FENSE” boomed throughout the arena: Every steal, every rebound, every basket was cheered for as if we had just won the NBA finals.
And then, when the game was on the line and Brandon Roy was dropping shots like the hoop was 100 feet wide, the entire stadium flew into a delirium that bordered on complete chaos. Being swept up in that emotion, that overwhelming wave of energy and passion, was a borderline spiritual experience for a long-time sports fan.
But besides going down as a game I’ll remember for the rest of my life, it also got me thinking. Portland is widely considered one of the most loyal sports cities on the planet, and as a result of that, the Rose Garden is among the NBA’s most difficult arenas to play in. But could this mania be translated from a professional sports team to small-school athletics in the middle of rural Oregon?
I believe it can, but not without first eliminating a toxic term from our vocabularies: “spectator sport.” “Spectator sport” is a lie in the highest degree. Sports aren’t meant to observed like a professor proctoring an exam; they’re meant to be participated in. Portland understands this.
When Blazer fans go to games, they don’t sit idly by and let the action unfold without taking a central role in dictating the flow of the game.
We, as supporters of one of the Northwest’s oldest and most storied athletic departments, can no longer afford to be spectators; we must be participators, actively involved in the battles that take place on the field or the pitch or the court.
If our team goes hard, we must go hard with them. If the players struggle, it is up to us to scream and cheer until they find the will to win. If one of our players gets fouled hard, get up and let the other team hear what you think about it. If one of our players smacks a home run over the far end of the fence, get up and dance in the bleachers like there’s no tomorrow.
Fans play a more dynamic role than I believe most people give them credit for and it is up to us to spread the word that Linfield students and fans will be spectators no longer.
Together, we can make Linfield a place that teams fear entering because they know what’s coming: a wall of sound and emotion that hits them in the gut and keeps on swinging. I get chills just thinking about it.
Our time has come, fans, and we must seize it.
Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at email@example.com.