Watching Pharaoh Brown dump a pile of snow on an innocent UO professor, who was just trying to donate artwork to the art museum, elicited a number of feelings in me. The first generated flashbacks of snowball fights gone wrong, where everyone turns on you and has one goal in mind: Pelt this kid with as many snowballs as he can stomach. Most, including me, know the feeling of being the culprit and the victim of this childish activity. But we were just kids and that’s what kids do, right?
The second was my more “mature” reaction. To knowingly ruin someone’s comfort for no apparent reason is wrong, no bones about it.
Finally, I thought to myself, this is such a fitting way to end the Ducks regular season.
This season wasn’t defined by record breaking interception streaks, a heroic effort by Huff in the Civil War or an inability to stop powerful running teams.The 2013 Duck season will be defined by three ethical dilemma’s that generated nationwide controversy, each increasing in scope and impact.
Let’s flashback to Sept. 16. Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla had not yet been caught carrying cocaine and was mysteriously absent from the Ducks roster against Tennessee. Due to Lyerla’s sketchy track record most Duck fans and reporters alike, expected the worst. Like maybe Lyerla got arrested for coke possession or something.
After the Ducks throttled the Volunteers, head coach Mark Helfrich had his most important dilemma of the day: Do I tell the media what happened to protect Lyerla from scrutiny or do I tell them nothing and preserve Duck policy of not disclosing such information? Helfrich chose the latter. In response, Lyerla told Oregonian reporter Jason Quick that he was hurt by his coach’s lack of explanation. Afterward, the Helfrich criticism ensued.
Two months later Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas had an ethical decision of their own. When asked if they were excited to play in the Rose Bowl, the two had two options. The first was to lie to the reporters and say they are thrilled to play in essentially a fifth place game for the second time of their careers. The other option was to be honest, and say they had only one goal in mind at the beginning of the year: to win a national title. They chose to say how they felt instead of regurgitating PR mumbo jumbo.
Then there is the snow bowl fight which was the ultimate University of Oregon public relations disaster, generating Duck bashing, racist Youtube comments and a one game suspension for Brown.
After mulling over each incident, I came to this conclusion: All three controversial decisions were justifiable.
We live in a world where media standards, that are impossible to live up to, are ruining personality and personal decision making. Players and coaches alike refrain from saying how they feel in fear of the immediate and harsh scrutiny they would face if they did otherwise.
In private, people will be themselves regardless of the expectations placed on them: So why can’t we just let Duck personnel be who they are? For strategic purposes, like former coach Chip Kelly, Helfrich has a strict policy of keeping injury news away from the media. Thomas and Huff have been dreaming about a national title for years, and like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan, aren’t satisfied with anything other than first place. Finally, Brown is a guy who was caught up in the jubilation of an unprecedented snow storm and acted instinctually.
If they had injured someone, I would be writing a much different story. Other than Brown making a professor freezing and famous, in the three instances, the Ducks chose authenticity over image without hurting anyone but Lyerla’s feelings, a University’s image for two weeks and themselves. Not so bad if you think about it.
“There ain’t any arguing out here. It’s anarchy,” Brown said to the professor. Brown probably regrets his ethical rationalization to suspend all moral values because freezing white powder entered the atmosphere.
But for better or for worse, I admire his decision to be a human being, not a robot.