Roll Calls

My informant is an 18-year-old College student who is from San Francisco. His ethnicity is Dutch, Irish, and English, and Italian.

My informant played many sports when he was growing up so I asked him if he had any sort of initiation or rites of passage within any of these sports. He remembered performing what he called, “roll calls”, on buses for football games and this act was in a way a rite of passage for some people.

Informant: “A roll call is just a four line song that you make up on the spot. It always starts the same way. So someone would start by yelling, “break em off break em off 1-2-3”, then the rest of the bus would yell the team’s name who we were on our way to play, so lets just say we were playing the dolphins, they would say, “dolphins dolphins 1-2-3”. Then the person who has the roll call would stand up. The structure of the little songs, I guess they are songs, are all the same also. Ill try to make one up right now, so, “My name is Cole”, and then everyone else on the bus yells, “yeah” in between, so let me start over. “My name is Cole” (yeah), “I’m such a bore” (yeah), “I make my friends” (yeah), “give me folklore”. They are usually really clever and target one single person. They are fun though they aren’t meant to be mean, but sometimes they get a little crazy. I think this in a way can be a rite of passage cuz like, if you are not the most popular guy, but you make a really good roll call, everyone is going to think you’re funny and you kind of earn respect in that way. It is kind of weird I know”

Analysis: I thought this was a really good example of a rite of passage. It is a little different from maybe other rites of passage that are taken more seriously and are recognized as a rite of passage. This rite of passage is not directly referred to as a rite of passage and even my informant made a comment about this and how he did not really see it as a rite of passage as it was happening, but he had realized it much later after the fact. I think there are a lot of small ways that rites of passages are conducted and many of them are not as direct as we might think. Sometimes these rites of passage take some reflecting on in order to realize their effects.