World Sports

Why is Oregon vs. Oregon State no longer called the Civil War?

The rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is one of the oldest in the world of college football. The two universities from the Beaver State first met in 1894 and have played a total of 126 games so far. The Ducks lead the series with a 67-49-10 record.

The rivalry has had a couple of names over the course of time. It was first known as the ‘Oregon Classic’ and ‘State Championship Game’ from 1894 to 1928 and was subsequently termed the ‘Civil War’ in 1929.

However, the usage of the term ‘Civil War’ in describing the rivalry was discontinued in 2020. Let’s examine the reason for dropping the term.

Why is Oregon vs. Oregon State no longer called the Civil War?

The in-state rivalry discontinued the usage of the term ‘Civil War’ in 2020 due to the historical and racial connotations associated with that term. This occurred during the wave of name changes across the United States, sparked by the protests that ensued after the murder of George Floyd.

Since 2021, the rivalry game has simply been known as the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry. The change reflects a broader awareness and sensitivity to the impact of language in historical and cultural contexts. Both schools released a statement to mark the discontinuation of the name.

In a statement released by Oregon State, athletic director Ed Ray noted that the name change was long overdue as a result of its connection to slavery.

“Changing this name is overdue, as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery. While not intended as a reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history.”

Oregon also released an official statement, where its athletic director, Rob Mullens, made it known that words hold great power and the discontinuation was a brilliant decision.

“We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools.”

The future of the rivalry game in college football

The rivalry game between Oregon and Oregon State faces an uncertain future in the college football landscape. Oregon will be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, which will likely place the two teams in separate conferences.

This creates the possibility of a halt in the rivalry game after long years of its existence. Since its inception, the matchup has only failed to be staged in five years – 1900, 1901, 1911, 1943 and 1944. However, we face a future where it might never happen again.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat



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