Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Apple Cup, pt. 2

Let's say the first song you ever learned was the WSU Fight Song,
and from birth through age 23, your family's social calendar revolved around this,
and on your first day at college, your father personally introduced you to the WSU President, the Vice-Provost and Alumni Center Director so that if you screwed up he would know,
and that despite living in Seattle for 10 years, every time you see Husky Stadium you can't help but sneer.
Welcome to my Cougar-ific world.

Here's more on the Apple Cup...

Every Coug knows how bad it feels to lose a game that should be yours, especially to the Huskies, because it happens a lot. As a result, somebody came up with the term "to Coug it." (And, there is even a Wikipedia entry for it HERE.) The key concept: 'snatching defeat from the almost certain clutches of victory.' You'll know it when you see it. It begins innocently enough as a pin-prick of doubt, a tiny seed of insecurity that soon takes over and the team begins to fall apart. As the team misfires and the Huskies capitalize on mistakes, the mood of the crowd turns from elation & surety to unmistakable dread. The longest moments of your life can be spent watching the second half of the Apple Cup.

To find out more about why it's come to this, here's a little something about the Huskies. Their campus is unparallelled in showcasing the beauty of the region with views of mountains and waterways, anchored by a majestic fountain and dotted with nostalgic ivy-covered brick buildings. The metropolitan nature of Seattle attracts students looking for cultural offerings and a chance to experience the big city while in the safety of student life. With all the distractions, the students don't really have to interact with each other unless they are Greek (frat/soro). The alumni are usual wealthy and those who stay in Seattle go on to be tech-savvy nerd geniuses or golf-shirt-wearing sales people.

Pullman on the other hand boasts acres of wheat fields and a handful of mediocre restaurants. The nightlife completely revolves around the students, reaching the heights of sophistication with a keg of beer, a 5-disk CD changer and bowl of Doritos. The students don't let their renown music program marked by the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, their usually ranked women's sports teams & a to-die-for recreation center distract them. They have a lot of time on their hands and there's nothing like boredom and a desire for mischief to bring people together. But after they leave, WSU alumni top the list for percentage of contributing alumni for a public university (nationally).

But no question about it, the Apple Cup is about inferiority. It is an exercise in the mental gymnastics of worthiness. No matter how well the Cougs have done in the season leading up to this game, there is a gut-wrenching, fingernail-biting anguish surrounding this 3-hour bookend of potential glory. It is an event to replay and stew over for 8 months until the next football season starts. Not surprisingly, many WSU players say that this game means more to them than a bowl berth because of the legacy of redemption and the pride at stake.

Cougs may be inconsistent in their football but they are loyal in their being. Take a close look at a Coug and you'll see a gleam in their eye hoping that next year could be the year to teach those Huskies a lesson. We just have to believe we deserve it.

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