The long-running rivalry between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers will no longer be called the Civil War, the universities announced in a joint statement Friday afternoon.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war waged to perpetuate slavery,” said Oregon State President Ed Ray. “Although it is not intended to be a reference to the actual Civil War, the OSU Sports Competition should not provide any misinterpreted reference to this divisive episode in United States history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake. We do it now, along with other important actions to promote equality of opportunity and justice for all and in recognition that the lives of blacks are important. ”
Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens, for his part, cited former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon (2004-07) as the catalyst for change.
“Today’s announcement is not only correct, but it takes a long time to arrive,” Mullens said. “We all must recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interest of both schools, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we work through this process. We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with the state of Oregon in all sports. “
The historical rivalry between Oregon and the state of Oregon dates back to 1894, when the latter was named the Oregon Agricultural College. It was called the Oregon Classic or the State Championship Game until 1937, when it was officially called the Civil War, although newspapers occasionally used that nickname as early as 1929.
The Ducks and Beavers have played 123 times, with Oregon leading the all-time series 66-47-10. It is the fifth most played rivalry in the Football Bowl Branch, behind only Minnesota-Wisconsin (129 games), Auburn-Georgia (124), North Carolina-Virginia (124), and Cincinnati-Miami, Ohio (124). This year’s matchup is scheduled for November 28 at the Reser stadium in Corvallis.
Basketball shows, on the other hand, have hit a record 354 times. Interestingly, some combination of Oregon or Oregon State with each other, Washington or Washington State make up the five most played games in the history of college basketball.
The rivalry had a corporate sponsor as of 1999, when it became known as the Northwest Dodge Dealer Civil War Series. PacificSource Health Plans stepped in when that 10-year partnership ended and held the role of lead sponsor until 2015, when other sponsors such as Ford, McDonald’s, Safeway-Albertsons, Spirit Mountain Casinos, Toyota and Wells Fargo joined it.
The Oregon and Oregon State soccer teams do not officially play for a trophy, although the Platypus Trophy was commissioned for the rivalry in 1959 due to its duckbill and beaver tail. It was awarded during the 1961 season, when it was stolen from the Ducks’ trophy inside the Gill Coliseum. It was returned, but then stolen a second time and somehow reappropriated as the trophy for the water polo teams.
The trophy disappeared for nearly four decades before being found in a closet at the Oregon McArthur Court in 2005. It became the unofficial soccer game trophy two years later and is currently awarded to the Alumni Association of the winning school.
Barnes said the two schools will consider another nickname for the rivalry in the future. We could suggest the obvious, which would be to embrace the trophy and call it Battle for the Platypus, or Battylpus, for short.
Photos via the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Nike and the Daily Emerald.