Kicking the Flagpole

The informant cites a well-known tradition here at USC: kicking the flagpole on the way to the Coliseum to cheer our football team to victory. Students, their families, professors, and many other USC fans flock towards the Coliseum in a group. Those walking from the direction of campus (usually most of the students, their families, and professors) pass by a group of flagpoles. In passing, each person in the crowd sticks a foot out and kicks the flagpole to bring victory for USC. He remembers the first time he ever kicked the flagpole as a freshman in 2011: “I was excited. It felt good to be taking part in such a huge tradition. I think it was that moment that really solidified in my mind that I was a part of the Trojan Family, that I was allowed to take part in this tradition because I belonged.”

The way he speaks about kicking the flagpole shows that it’s more than just a long-standing tradition meant to show school spirit and bring good luck to the team; it’s also a rite of passage. The moment a new student kicks the flagpole, they’ve crossed a liminal point; they’ve taken part in an important and exclusive USC ritual for the first time. They become a part of the tradition, and a part of the USC family.