Growing up in Kirkland, I considered myself to be quite the Washington Huskies fan.  I was a football player at Juanita High School and as I saw many of my friends recruited to Montlake, I began looking forward to cheering for them on Saturdays.

That is until I received the dreaded letter denying me from entering the University of Washington.

Time for Plan B. Soon I was heading down to Eugene to become an Oregon Duck.

At Oregon I was lucky enough to be an undergraduate member of the coaching staff, working alongside Nick Aliotti, the defensive coordinator then, and made weekly scouting reports and practice plans.  Each week the team would talk about how they couldn’t wait to play Oregon State, our main rivals.  The opponent I always looked forward to playing was Washington. And, no, it had nothing to do with being bitter about not getting in.

It had to do with the treatment my family and I received when I made my Oregon commitment. People would come up to my mom in the grocery store and apologize to her that her son was a Duck. My friends made fun of me every chance they could. It was considered a crime to wear green and yellow around here.

I spent my four years at Oregon going through all this in a bubble in Eugene, hearing reports of the treatment up here from my parents.

I finally got another firsthand look at the rivalry this summer. After getting into graduate school at Seattle University, my wife and I took the leap to Seattle. Within a week of moving near the UW Bothell campus, my car with Oregon alumni plates happened to be the only car on the block with the tires slashed.  Coincidence?  You tell me.

The level of hate appeared to have skyrocketed in the years I was gone.  No longer can I even get a coffee in my Oregon gear without being told: “They suck! Go Dawgs!” Hey, if I’m not saying anything to you, don’t say anything to me. It’s a game, after all, no matter how deep the ties go.

Heading down to Husky Stadium on Saturday night with my wife and in-laws, we were all expecting a tough time. I’m not naïve, so I know Husky fans get rough treatment down in Eugene, but so many wearing purple and gold seem to turn a blind eye to how they act. Within minutes of stepping foot on campus, we got the treatment of being in enemy territory. Simply trying to walk through the tailgate lot to get to the game turned into an hour-long ordeal, thanks to Husky fans. Megaphone wielding Huskies yelled personal attacks, and bread was thrown in our faces. My wife was chest bumped into cars by 300-pound men and called every name in the book.

Am I mad about it?  Not one bit, and that has nothing to do with Oregon winning Saturday. But it’s time to wake up, Huskies, and see how your fans act.

The treatment didn’t stop Saturday night. Sunday morning, while getting coffee, I was verbally abused by a man twice my age.

I get it, Husky fans. You want the streak to be over, and it will be soon. Coach Chris Petersen is on the right track, and the Ducks are on the decline this season. This had all the makings of the year the Huskies would finally beat Oregon. It didn’t happen. It’s time to move on.

The best way to move on would be stepping down from the high horse. Don’t ever be sorry for me that I went to Oregon. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. To all you good Husky fans out there, I’m sorry there are so many who ruin it for you (just like bad Duck fans ruin it for me).  To all those Husky fans who shook my hand before and after the game: You’re the good guys. I like you. But to those Husky fans who decide to slash tires and throw bread: Go find a new hobby.

This rivalry doesn’t need you.

Alex Rider, 23, is a Kirkland native who attended the University of Oregon. He is in Seattle University’s Master’s in Sports Administration and Leadership program.

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