USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Sports’
Rituals, festivals, holidays

USC Trojan Knights Cheer

S-O-U-T-HERN  C-A-L-I-FORNIA

Southern! Califorrrrnia!

Fight On!

 

Interviewer: What is being performed?

 

Informant: A Cheer by Rafael Souza. The Hammer Drop, one person yells and the others join and spell out Southern California.

 

Interviewer: What is the background information about the performance? Why do you know or like this piece? Where or who did you learn it from?

 

Informant: It is a game day ritual for USC Trojan Knights.

 

Interviewer: What country and what region of that country are you from?

 

Informant: USC Traditions

 

Interviewer: Do you belong to a specific religious or social sub group that tells this story?

 

Informant: Trojan Knights

 

Interviewer: Where did you first hear the story?

 

Informant: When I went to my first game day

 

Interviewer: What do you think the origins of this story might be?

 

Informant: Spirited USC students probably

 

Interviewer: What does it mean to you?

 

Informant: A lot as a new knight

 

Context of the performance- classmate interview

 

Thoughts about the piece- Trojan Knights are a USC service and spirit organization founded in 1921. See  https://www.trojanknights.org/  to learn about other TK traditions including Tommy Watch, Card Stunts and the Victory Bell. As a USC freshman, I don’t know many details about the mysterious TK fraternity type club but appreciate their traditions that enhance school spirit, especially during football season.

general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

High School Spirit week

Informant:

Daniel is a first year analyst at a prominent Manhattan based investment bank. He grew up in Northern California from a predominantly irish background

Piece:

 

My high school took spirit week super seriously and every single person got super hyped for it and dressed up every day. It was awesome. The whole week culminated on thursday nights when we had the annual Rock N Jock tournament which was a game of basketball with modified rules. Each player on the court dressed as a different character and had different limitations and scoring potential. Like the granny had to only shoot underhand but got a 3 points no matter where she shot from. And the traveler could travel all he wanted, but had to carry a small piece of luggage with him and wasn’t allowed to shoot. Scuba diver had to wear a scuba mask, wetsuit, and flippers, but got 5 free throws if he ever got to the line. The most important character of all though was the flamingo who had to hop on one foot whenever he was on the offensive half of the court, but got 7 points if he made any shot, 3 if he hit the rim, and 1 for just hitting the backboard. The game essentially boiled down to boxing out so that the flamingo could take shots and try to get as many points as possible. It was the best part of spirit week for sure.

Collector’s thoughts:

Once again, the idea of multiplicity and variation arises. While the game of basketball has official and standardized rules, this adaptation of the famous game also has its own set of very specific rules and regulations. While this game might not be “official” it represents a great amount to the informant. This game was the essential part in determining the winner of spirit week.  

Game

Switching Soccer Shin Guards

Informant:

Karl is a freshman aerospace engineering major. He spent thirteen years in a traditional boy’s chorus. He is also an avid soccer player

Piece:

When I played soccer in high school, my team had this tradition of if we were down we would all take one shin guard out and give it to someone else on the team to wear. SO we would all have like each other’s shin guards on instead of our own. I guess it was sorta a way to like bind us together when we were down and inspire us to try to score another goal and win.

Collector’s thoughts:

The informant explains that the exchanging of shin guards was done as a way to promote good luck when the team was down. Traditions like this are common throughouts sports and can be seen in many different sports. Similar to this tradition, baseball players turn their hats inside out when they are down to promote good luck. It is interesting how in sports one wishes for luck when ultimately it is the athlete using their own skills to accomplish a goal.

 

 

Customs
Foodways
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Dance Traditions

For dance, like, um, when I was with the company, the night before the show, like, we’d always have sleepovers, and we’d always drink three… three strawberry Fantas each, which is really bad for you, ’cause you’re not supposed to drink soda, obviously, the night before, but we did it anyway, it was just like a good luck thing.

 

Thoughts:

This good-luck tradition reverses something that it supposed to be discouraged and taboo and turns it into a ritual for luck. It shows the dancers’ and teenagers’ in general tendency to bend or break rules. Additionally, because my informant is a highly trained and very talented competitive dancer, it could speak to her and her teammates’ confidence that they will be able to perform their best regardless of drinking soda the night before a performance. The context of this tradition within a sleepover works to build a community and bond with the entire team, since they are spending the whole night before a performance (and presumably the entire day of the performance) with each other and participating in the same rule-breaking rituals.

Customs
Game
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Soccer Game Rituals

So in my soccer team, uh, like, before games, we always put our left socks on before our right socks, right? And then, we always, like, put on our left cleats and then our right cleats, but then we tie our right cleats before our left cleats. Oh, and then I always tuck in my shirt.

 

Background:

I guess it’s lucky, kind of. We do it every game, so I can’t really tell if it’s lucky or not. It’s just, like, a ritual that we started and we can’t change it, because then, like, it might turn unlucky or something.

 

Thoughts:

This team-wide pre-game ritual probably helps to build a bond or sense of community within the team, and allows the players to identify with and trust in each other.

Musical

¿Cómo no te voy a querer? (Soccer song)

¿Cómo no te voy a querer?

¿Cómo no te voy a querer?

Si tu corazón azul es

Y tu piel dorada

Siempre te querré

Translation:

How am I not going to love you?

How am I not going to love you?

If your heart is blue

And your skin is gold

I’ll always love you

 

Context:

When we lived in Mexico, uh, we used to go to soccer games a lot, like, club games. And, uh… my dad’s favorite team… I guess the whole family, we, like, really liked the same team, they were called Pumas. And, like… there was this song that they would always sing at the, uh, like, the games that was like… [performed the song] Um… because the team’s colors are blue and gold.

 

Example of performance:

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQNqI3FhT0I)

 

Thoughts:

This song shows a loyalty to the team, regardless of the game’s outcome (“I’ll always love you”), and makes the bond between team and fans deeply personal, talking about the heart and the skin. Here, the fans (or the players) come to embody the team’s colors and logo. It is also one of the more positive sports songs, which simply declares one’s love for their team, rather than trying to tear the opposing team down.

 

Annotations:

For another version of this song, this time performed for the Real Madrid team, see:

“Como No Te Voy a Querer – Nuevo Himno Del Real Madrid.” YouTube, YouTube, 3 June 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED7QCHQzlRs.

(These lyrics read: “¿Cómo no te voy a querer? ¿Cómo no te voy a querer? Si eres campeón de Europa por décima vez.”

Translation: How am I not going to love you? How am I not going to love you? If you are champion of Europe for the tenth time.”)

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Protection
Signs

No New Waves

Background:

My informant is a twenty-five year old USC graduate who splits his time between Los Angeles and his home in La Jolla, CA. The informant is a lab assistant but spends the majority of his free time surfing. It’s both a personal passion and family activity that has taken him all over the world.

Performance:

“Another one is that you never leave waves to find waves. That was one of the first ones that I learned, my Dad is super, like, intense about it. Basically it means that if you have waves, if you’ve found like, decent conditions, you shouldn’t leave to find something better because you’ll never find it. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be like, philosophical or something, but it’s honestly true. Every time I’m like, ‘oh, these waves suck, let’s go to this beach’ or whatever, the waves totally suck. Like I’m cursed because I couldn’t appreciate what I had. So just, like, stay in the moment. It’s worth it.”

Thoughts:

This is another superstition that sheds a light on the spiritual side of surfing. There’s a whole set of beliefs behind the sport and culture. As Doron mentioned, this seems to be equal parts philosophy and superstition. The message is to “stay in the moment” and appreciate what’s in front of you rather than running off to chase something that might be better. Unlike traditional American discourse, this piece of folklore is anti-future; it insists that the surfer lives fully within the present moment and focuses only on what is happening around them.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Protection
Signs

Never Say Goodbye

Background:

My informant is a twenty-five year old USC graduate who splits his time between Los Angeles and his home in La Jolla, CA. The informant is a lab assistant but spends the majority of his free time surfing. It’s both a personal passion and family activity that has taken him all over the world.

Performance:

“Surfers are pretty superstitious, which is crazy just because of how, like, chill we’re supposed to be (chuckles). But one thing is that you never tell people you’re leaving…like, if you’re out there and you know that you’re going to just like, get one more and then go in, you don’t say it. You just paddle in and like, you’re done. If you tell people, like, ‘hey I’m going to go’ it basically brings like, really awful conditions. Like, no waves and stuff for anyone else. Not cool. Don’t do it!”

Thoughts:

This is both etiquette and superstition. It seems to speak to the limited time most people have available to surf. People tend to talk about surfing and surf culture like it’s pseudo-religious; there is a spiritual importance to the individuality of a surfing experience. In this case, it seems like the act of ending your own session is tantamount to ending everyone else’s. You’re supposed to let everyone have as much or as little of their own time to surf and do your own thing.

Folk Beliefs
folk metaphor
Initiations
Legends
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The OJ Simpson Metaphor

The informant (A.H.) comes from a Black Christian family. A.H. does not identify with Christianity.

Now well retired from the game at 54 years old, A.H. played football in the NFL from 1983 to 1987; first drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, then transferred to the Seattle Seahawks, and finally the San Francisco 49ers. Since then he has coached youth football teams, and works now as a financial analyst. A.H. was over house for dinner one Monday evening, and after our meal I interviewed him for football specific occupational folklore. I asked about the superstitions, traditions, and legends A.H. had come across during his career as a professional player.

A.H.: “I remember growing up I was a huge OJ Simpson fan. I think every kid my age that grew up in my area that wanted to be a running back wanted to be OJ. And I remember reading in an article somewhere that he never ate before games. He had said somewhere that he wanted to know what it was like to be hungry, and he thought that it would transfer over into games. I think I might have been in high-school when I read that. It affected the way that I ate, like I would never eat the night before the game or morning before the game. The interesting thing is when I coached, I passed that on to the players that I used to coach. He said something like, if you didn’t eat it would make you like a hungry dog. You would play better. Every guy has his superstition before the game… So I saw one of the kids on Facebook that I used to coach… A lot of those kids are coaches, and they’re passing that stuff on now.”

I found A.H.’s story compelling, because what began as Simpson’s individual superstition was perpetuated by his success, and eventually A.H.’s success. As seen with the OJ Simpson metaphor, a young generation of football players dons the occupational superstitions of their predecessors as a rite of passage in the hopes to achieve similar success on the field. A.H. was well spoken, and seemed to enjoy revisiting memories of his time in the game. He was equally, if not more enthusiastic about the legacy he left behind as a coach.
Not only does A.H.’s story provide an occupational superstition, but also a new interpretation of a popular metaphor. Specifically, in English speech, ‘hunger’ serves as a metaphor for desire or motivation. In this particular superstition, the hunger metaphor is associated with the desire to win the game. For a popular example of the hunger used as a metaphor for motivation, see Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games.

Festival
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Melbourne Cup

“The Melbourne Cup is the first Tuesday of November. It’s a public holiday. That shows how important it is to Australians. It’s a horse race. I don’t know how it became big or why it became big, but like it’s genuinely observed across Australia. It’s like a series of races that take place all week. They’re just horse races of different heats, of different… Just horse races! Horses from all over the world come to Australia to race in Melbourne Cup. The reason why it’s so big is that… So it’s a series of races, and the biggest race is the Melbourne Cup, and it’s quite long, and only the best horses compete in it. The reason why it’s so big is because people… It’s like a festival, I guess. It’s fashion and food, and it’s more about like the people, I guess? It’s like the Oscars or Grammys where, like, you’re like, ‘What’s she wearing?’ It’s kind of like that. When it comes time to the actual Melbourne Cup race itself, people put bets on which horse is gonna win. And that’s part of the tradition. Even if you aren’t normally a betting person most people in Australia will go put a dollar, two dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, probably not extreme amounts, but people will go and put money on a horse. The newspaper has a centerfold with like all the horses and their statistics and the jockey and their experiences and where the horses have won before. I pick #12 because that’s my lucky number, I just trust that number. And then you go to the tab and you put a bet on. You can do it from anywhere in the country, not just in Victoria where the cup is. The Melbourne Cup is the one day a year where the tab is full, it’s like bursting. It’s usually just a couple men, like the serial gamblers. It’s hectic on that day. I get excited. It’s the one day a year where I actually get excited about a horse race. I think you can tell that everyone else cares, too. It’s all people talk about in like the days leading up. Three o’clock on the dot is when the race starts. When I was in high school, school finished at ten minutes to three. And there was no way I was gonna get home in time or anyone was gonna get home in time for the race. So school ends classes like half an hour early on Melbourne Cup day so we can all get home in order to watch the race. My brother and I would get off the bus, and we’d race home, and we’d drop our bags and everybody would be in front of the TV. I don’t even know why it was a family affair, but it was. I can’t explain the excitement when the race started. It was kind of like everything stopped. And the tag line for the Melbourne Cup is like, ‘The race that stops the nation.’ And it genuinely is. Like, traffic stops. People park their cars and like listen to it on the radio. Everybody stops for like two or three minutes just to listen to this race. Unless you win, though, you don’t get anything out of it. You don’t get any like satisfaction or money, just nothing. It can be kind of anticlimactic. When it’s over, people kind of just go back to their lives. Some people will like watch the after ceremony where they like crown the jockey and like give him money and stuff. They interview the owner of the horse, and they put a little sash on the horse to say that he won. It’s just the one day where everyone in Australia kind of stops. It’s kind of become an Australian tradition just to watch.”

 

I could tell this was a very exciting experience for the source to relate. It’s certainly outside of her usual interest, but like the rest of Australia, it seems not to matter whether horse racing is in your interests or not. Because it’s not a horse racing thing. It’s an Australian thing. It’s part of their identity. It’s very much like our Super Bowl. Everybody watches the Super Bowl, everybody knows who’s in the Super Bowl. The whole nation stops on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s what the Melbourne Cup is for Australians. However, it seems they have a lot more invested in it what with all the betting and whatnot. Americans, however, experience it longer. Whereas no one researches before the Melbourne Cup, it seems, and not too many people continue watching after it’s done, the Super Bowl is savored for every minute of it, including the aftermath. And everybody is prepping from the week before.

[geolocation]