Last week, Oregon and Oregon State issued a joint statement announcing that neither school will continue to refer to the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry game as the Civil War, due to associations with the American Civil War.
“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. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said in the release.
"Today’s announcement is not only right but is a long time coming, and I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change.," said Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens. "Thanks also to our current student-athletes for their leadership and input during this process. 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, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we worked through this process. We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with Oregon State in all sports."
The reaction has been mixed. Some people are in support of the change like Oregon legend Dennis Dixon and Oregon State stars Ken Simonton and Steven Jackson. Additionally, some current student-athletes at both schools are in agreement with the schools' decision.
As a player, he led us into a national championship race. Now, he’s a leading voice for change regarding today’s announcement.— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) June 26, 2020
Here’s Dennis Dixon on how the conversation took shape: pic.twitter.com/5eq6T7FErm
Former Beaver standouts Steven Jackson and Ken Simonton are among prominent alumni who have also expressed approval and will be a part of the renaming process of the Oregon State-Oregon rivalry. pic.twitter.com/oj0QRZOeuq— Go Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) June 26, 2020
Former Oregon safety Garren Strong, who Dixon called when asking around if he should talk to Mullens about the game, is also in favor of the change.
“You look at that name, ‘Civil War,’ and you obviously understand it if you live in one state and you’re an Oregon or Oregon State fan," he told The Atheltic. "But if you truly take a step back and see where that name comes from, and where it actually originates from, I think there would be a lot more questions about the name.”
However, many disagree with the name change, with some going as far as to claim it's needless virtue signaling rather than making actions that would envoke real change.
This is absolutely the type of stuff that actually stifles progress from the real issues. This is a non issue. Nobody gives af this is called the Civil War. This is going WAY too far and actaully discourages people on the other side from listening to things that actually matter. https://t.co/n9s5lO5Zil— Grant Ocampo (@grantocampo) June 26, 2020
Two former Oregon Ducks players that grew up in Oregon, Tyson Coleman and Thomas Tyner, told Tyson Alger of The Athletic that they disagree with the change:
“Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It is the Civil War,” former Lake Oswego linebacker Tyson Coleman texted Alger. “Quote me.”
“Well, I’m right there with Tyson,” texted Thomas Tyner, an Aloha High School legend who played at both Oregon and Oregon State in college. “I think it’s nothing but stupid.”
Meanwhile, Oregon State wide receiver and former Oregon City three-star Trevon Bradford tweeted that as an Oregonian he never had an issue with the name but he also understands the name change.
What my Oregonians think bout this one ? In my opinion, this was the best name for any rivalry in the country 😂 I get it tho https://t.co/YI7fgGbQW8— Trevon Bradford (@trevon_bradford) June 26, 2020
The game hasn't always been referred to as the Civil War, though. The term “Civil War” first appeared in newspapers way back in 1929 -- when an Oregon coach equated the game’s importance in the state to the Civil War -- and it caught on. In just a few years it came into general usage.
Before then it was referred to as the Oregon Classic, and perhaps the schools will bring that name back. But only time will tell.
The schools plan to rename the rivalry with no timetable for a decision announced.