Being a Viking

    We really should have won that game. These are the exact words that I uttered just seconds after the Portland State softball team, the school’s most successful team last year, were victims of a devastating walk-off homerun at the hands of Baylor in their first-ever NCAA regional game last spring.

    It just didn’t make sense. The Vikings had done everything necessary to win the game. They outplayed the higher-ranked, favored Baylor Bears the entire game. They made the necessary substitutions to win the game. Heck, they even had an insurance run just in case Baylor’s best slugger decided to go yard at the most inopportune moment. But, for some unknown reason the Viks failed to leave the diamond one game closer to winning the regional title.

    This is how many so-called fans view Portland State athletics. They believe that the teams are under some sort of spell, prohibiting them from prevailing when the stage is largest and all the chips are on the table. And to a certain degree, I agree. But, being a Viking fan is not entirely about the disappointment of watching your team choke under pressure. There are definitely some perks to being a member of the Viking faithful. 

    In my opinion, one of the best-kept secrets from Portlanders is that Portland State even has an athletic program. Viking fans are seriously treated like third-rate citizens in this state. Having lived in Oregon my whole life, I am well aware that, through slick and strategic advertising, every single person in the state is brainwashed into choosing between the orange and black or the green and yellow. Nobody even considers the alternatives. Just to enlighten anyone out there who doesn’t know, there are other universities in Oregon. And this may come as a shock, but these "other" universities also have sports programs.

    We live in a state that only considers two universities worthy of their time. I realize that PGE Park will never be completely full of rabid college students like at Reser or Autzen, and I really don’t care. Sure, sitting in the midst of thousands of fans screaming and hollering the entire game sounds like a lot of fun, but somehow it’s a lot more enjoyable being surrounded by people who actually care. That is the difference at Portland State. Everyone that attends a basketball, football, softball or soccer game is there because they are true fans, not because it’s the cool thing to do.

    Another reason that you have to love being a Viking fan is that when we win it is so much sweeter. This reminds me of the women’s basketball team’s monumental victory over Arkansas last season. Who really thought that a team with a measly three wins the season before would knock off a contending SEC team? Nobody. While the Portland State faithful was celebrating after the game, the Arkansas players, coaches and fans were scratching their heads, thinking, "who is Portland State and how did they just beat us?"

    Portland State might not have the easiest teams in the state to support. We don’t have state-of-the-art facilities, seemingly no one acknowledges us as a legitimate threat, and most of all we are known to choke under pressure. Taking all of this into account, I challenge you to choose the road rarely traveled and attend a Portland State sporting event as a true Viking fan. You will be impressed. See you at the game.