January 10, 2011

Time to celebrate that other Oregon sport

As an unabashed running nerd and Oregon alum, I’ll admit, I think about Oregon like this:

But if you’re in the vast majority of the sports‐viewing public, you think about Oregon like this (shown here giving UW’s Jake Locker…a hug?):

And if you’re a football loving human within twenty yards of a TV tonight, chances are you’ll be watching #2 Oregon duke it out with #1 Auburn as they block, tackle, pass (and yes, run!) their way to the finish of the BCS season. Will I be watching? You bet. I’ll admit I love football (what can I say? I was raised in an all male household). And I’m an Oregon football fan too. Always have been – even when I was at school there and they were better known as the Lame Ducks (and their only bowl game had been a sad and soggy 0‐0 tie against Oregon State that came to be known as the Toilet Bowl).

But then I got to thinking more about this dual sport leadership for Oregon. Running vs. football. And thinking that it was a bit (ironic? odd? notable? pick your adjective) that Phil Knight, the original running shoe innovator, is partly responsible for driving both the success and vast financial chasm between these two sports. A quick Google search shows that Oregon’s football coach, Chip Kelly, is currently signed on a 5‐year contract for $20.5 million and that Vince Lananna, Oregon’s head coach of Track & Field and Cross Country has an annual compensation of $150K+, depending on performance. One can only assume the budget for games, facilities, travel, media, etc. are separated by equal margins.

But I’m going to stop there. This is not a rant against football programs. Or a plea for the public to love running. It’s simply an observation. Food for thought. Something to think about as we ponder what sports we elevate, and which ones play quietly in the background.

For me, it’s not about the chasm, or even football vs. running.
It’s about go green. It’s about Go Oregon!!!

Circa 1991;me and Dad on our way to Autzen Stadium for a football game.