Friday, October 14, 2011

Chance the Vulgar Chant Will Stop: Zero-point-zero.

For those few of you who read this rant and are not familiar with what the game-day experience is like at Camp Randall Stadium, a word of warning: this post will contain vulgar language.  Nothing adults haven’t heard, but if it’s not your cup of tea, be forewarned, and catch up on some other blogs.

Several years ago – I’m not sure when - the reform-school dropouts who populate the student sections of Camp Randall Stadium (those sections with letters in the middle of the alphabet) began a chant which persists to this day.  It must have started when the Badgers were in the throes of the Don Morton era, when wins were few and far between, and the game on the field was not the most exciting part of the game-day experience.  Half the students would yell “Eat shit!” and the other half would yell back “Fuck You”.  Some insist it arose prior to the Morton era, as a crude counterpoint to the beer commercial that said “Tastes Great!  Less Filling!” in several variants, back in the 70’s and 80’s.

It gets so loud that the TV sound techs have had to figure out a way to try and keep it from invading grandma and grandpa’s living room, as they watch alma mater.  It’s crude, rude, stupid, vapid, devoid of creativity, boorish, and….now firmly entrenched, as much a part of the game-day experience as the jump around frenzy between the 3rd and 4th quarter, and the 5th quarter show from Dr. Leckrone and his marching band.

And it’s not going away because Barry and Bret sent ‘round an e-mail to the students asking them to stop doing it.

Anyone who’s ever parented a child knows what children do when you ask them to stop doing something that annoys you or is unmannered.  Absent a consequence, the behavior continues.

A few years ago then-Chancellor John Wiley sent ‘round a similar e-mail, and it was ignored, just as Barry and Bret’s e-mail will be ignored tomorrow morning when Indiana comes in for the Homecoming game.

Attending a Badgers home football game entails dodging a phalanx of drunken students to get into the stadium, and woe betide he who wears the colors of the opposing team – stand by to be loudly insulted, intimidated, and, if the cops aren’t around, to have beer tossed at you.  It’s a very raucous atmosphere, it’s a very partisan crowd.  It’s what some people call “part of the home-field advantage”.  Badgers basketball and hockey games at the Kohl Center are nothing like the Camp Randall experience.  In my opinion, the crowd chants and cheers that are part of a Badgers hockey game are far more creative and engaging than anything in or around Camp Randall.   The experience of having 17 thousand rabid hockey fans chanting “SIEVE!!!” and pointing their collective (index) finger at the goalie who’s just been scored on is unduplicated in collegiate sport anywhere.  (European soccer matches are in a league of their own.)

I think part of it is that the powers-that-be at the big college on the lake aren’t really serious about stopping the vulgar chant.  There’s no consequence.   It’s sort of like those messages you see before the feature film starts, in a movie theater – the ones about silencing your cell phone and “no talking or texting during the film”.  Movies are made for young people, and it’s their money that drives the box office, so theatre owners aren’t really serious about stopping the talking and texting; they run the message to make the “more mature” patrons feel that management is concerned about the movie-going experience.  Nobody ever gets tossed out of a movie theatre for texting while the movie is on.

If the brain trust at the UW were serious about stopping the chant, they could do it in a heartbeat.  All they’d have to do is announce to the crowd that if the vulgar chant is heard, the referee will throw the yellow hankie and announce an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the home team (a “bench foul”, if you will).  It would take approximately one such penalty to bring the vulgar chant to an end.

Without a consequence, the chance of the vulgar chant ending because of an e-mail from the Athletic Director and the Head Coach is….as Dean Vernon Wormer (Animal House) would say….zero-point-zero.


  1. Fight The Good Fight

    The University, with its position of social influence, has declared a war on imagination. All great civilization uses its language as a window through which ideas pass. The students must wrest control from the administrative bureaucracy. To bow to the dull pedantic chant, signals the decline of its culture.

  2. Uhnnnnmmmm...are you telling us that the "culture" of UW is "F*&^, S%$#"?

    And you expect continuing taxpayer support and love, too?

  3. Language and its accompanying companion, paranoia.
    No I am saying that ‘culture’ is the ultimate illusion to live by. The idée recue, the ‘culture ‘of the state, must face the guillotine of rediscovery of the self against the tribe. Students and those recognizing the totalitarianism of the rational mind challenge and through play or madness break through it. The tribe will condemn all those voices that ever said anything crazy or wonderful!

  4. I'm pretty sure I remember hearing "ES!/FY!" back in the Dave McClain era. The one chant I recall that was specific to Don Morton's tenure (and the Jim Hilles interregnum) was "Who Gives a Shit? We Came to See the Band!"

    I agree that admonishments without consequences will not have the desired effect. I recall an attempt to stop body passing in the student section back in the McClain years. There was an editorial in one of the student newspapers claiming it was a sexist practice, since it was always young, attractive women who were so assaulted (frequently without their consent). At the very next home football game, the student section was full of beefy guys being passed.

    I shudder to think how the students will rise to Barry & Bret's challenge to be more creative.

  5. Colonel,

    >> All they’d have to do is announce to the crowd that if the vulgar chant is heard, the referee will throw the yellow hankie and announce an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the home team (a “bench foul”, if you will). It would take approximately one such penalty to bring the vulgar chant to an end. <<

    Exactly! Isn't this related to the phenomenon of extreme crowd noise in certain indoor stadiums? If I remember correctly, isn't there a penalty on the books for that sort of thing?

    Yeah, yeah! Just looked it up on the NFL Rules Digest: "Loss of team time out(s) or five-yard penalty on the defense for excessive crowd noise." Looks like that could be the template for college football, too.


    The Town Crank

  6. "Frankenburger, eat shit." We were required to say, shout, whisper, think that every time we walked into the Lakeshore Dormitories' Tripp Hall. Frankenburger was one of the houses in the hall, and we were alerted to the tradition, told that the administration frowned on its practice, and for the rest of the year - 1969-70 - when coming home from a hard night's research at the Badger Tavern or HT always yelled it, said it, whispered it, slurred it or thought it. I'm not sure what residents of Frankenburger House yelled.
    Had residents only known that Prof. David B. Frankenburger, an eminent scholar and poet, was named the university's professor of rhetoric and oratory in 1878, and thereafter a remarkable and valued friend of all students, perhaps the chant would have been more literary. I think it is too bad the football team does not have fans it can be proud of, but sporting event crowds have always counted loudmouths and bores among the paying fans. At least they sing a nice rendition of "build me up, buttercup...(or Veronica)."

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