Occupation: Radio producer and sports media
Residence: Lake Bluff, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/18/2013
Primary Language: English
My informant does some work in the sports media field, which basically means he gets to interview players after the game in the locker room. On of the teams he has interviewed is the Chicago Blackhawks, and he says that in their locker room, there is a big Blackhawk head on the middle of the floor. It’s the team emblem. You are not allowed to step on it, and the players ask all the media people not to step on it either. Anyone who steps on it “gets a major razz from the players.” During the playoffs, there are a lot of media people in the locker room, and some of these people don’t know the tradition because they don’t regularly come for interviews. During these busy weeks, the team goes so far as to rope off the Blackhawk emblem to make sure that no one steps on it. It’s not necessarily bad luck, but it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.
A similar tradition is observed in the USC Trojan Marching Band. There is a big emblem of the band trojan head on the floor in the band office by the front door, and you are not supposed to step on it. If someone (usually a freshman) steps on it, everyone in the band office will turn to that person and yell at them, and say stuff like “Don’t step on the trojan!” and yell obscenities at the offender. Like with the Blackhawks, it isn’t really bad luck, it’s just something you aren’t supposed to do.
My high school back home had a similar tradition but with a twist. In the front entrance to Lake Forest High School, there is a big Compass-Rose-like star in the main hallway, right by the front doors. I’m not entirely sure, but I think this was a gift from a graduating senior class. When new freshmen come to the school, all the older kids tell the freshmen that this is the Senior Star, and that no one except seniors are allowed to walk across it. And they say that any non-senior who violates this rule will get beaten up. The reality is that nobody gives a shit about walking across the senior star. In fact, given how big the star is compared to the rest of the hallway and the given the amount of students who walk through it in between classes, it would be pretty hard for everyone to avoid it. But the reason they tell this to freshmen is just to see how long it takes them to figure out that indeed nobody gives a shit who walks across it. Nevertheless, the fact that this faux rule exists proves that “Don’t Step on the Symbol” is a somewhat universal concept.