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.