Football brings us all together. On Saturday nights, fans from all walks of life gather in Death Valley to watch our fighting Tigers give it their all of their might to win the fight. On those Saturday nights, the Golden Band from Tigerland is right behind them cheering the team and fans alike on to victory.
The Tiger Band plays a plethora of tunes, and the student sections gets amped up. It’s an age-old relationship. In recent years, the relationship has taken an insidious turn.
If you show up to any event the band plays at, you’ll hear crowds begging them to “Play Neck!” The song in question is an adaptation of Cameo’s 1984 song “Talkin’ Out the Side of Your Neck.” The student section enjoyed the song so much they added infamous lyrics to it.
The University condemns the student section’s foul behavior. In 2010, the Athletics Department prohibited the band from playing “Neck.” In 2013, the University decided to respond with positive reinforcement rather than punishment.
The Athletics Department began a “Traditions Matter” campaign to wean students off of poor behavior. The campaign took measures to encourage the students to hold themselves to a higher standard.
The campaign had stadium workers pass out flyers and stickers, and the cheerleaders held up signs saying “Keep it Clean” while they performed their routines.
The same year, the Athletics Department allowed the Tiger Band to play “Neck” once more. To everyone’s chagrin, the student section lacked the restraint to refrain from chanting.
The campaign subsequently ended, and “Neck” more or less left the stadium with it. “Neck” isn’t the only song to fall prey to the student section’s abuse.
When fans lost access to “Neck,” they found they could use the chant for a greater number of songs. One by one, those songs were banned, too.
As more and more songs are forbidden, the band has to compensate by finding and learning new songs. Tiger Band members are students too, and have classwork and jobs to attend to.
Learning a song just to have it banned the next weekend is a waste of band members’ time. Some students have even taken it upon themselves to arrange new songs for the band. The student section can’t tell the difference and push the same chant on the new songs.
As a result, a student who has spent hours upon hours of free time on a work meant for the enjoyment of others could have his or her work invalidated. All that time and effort is dashed by just five words.
Proclaiming vulgar chants surely seems like a harmless, fun idea in the moment. If you take a step back and look at the big picture, you’ll see its consequences. It makes our community look bad in general, and it’s a disservice to a group who spends countless hours each week to rock the stadium on Saturday night. A little restraint can bring us a long way.
Kyle Richoux is a 20-year-old sociology junior from LaPlace, Louisiana.