Tag Archives: flag post

Kicking the Flag Pole

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 30, 2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

“When USC students go to football games, as they head off of campus they kick the flagpoles on the edge of campus. It’s suppose to be for good luck. It’s supposed to help the team win. I heard about it when I was at orientation and the guide pointed at the poles and told us that ‘All the students kick theese poles on the way to the Collesium.’ It’s like a superstition thing. I have done it once during freshman year when I went to a game and sure enough when I did it I saw tons of other people doing it too. It’s definitely caught on.”

As a fellow student at USC I know this tradition to be true. It is interesting to note that this was taught during the orientation process to the university. During orientation at USC students are not only taught official protocols of the university but they are also taught about the unofficial culture of the campus, through an official medium. The kicking of the flag pole could even be considered a ‘right of passage’ for students attending football games. As if only the true fans and devoted students partake in this good luck ritual. This tradition is not only to ensure success for the football team during the game, but also an initiation into true fandom.

Kicking the Flag Post Before USC Football Games

--Informant Info--
Nationality: British, American, Canadian, Indian
Age: 40
Occupation: Actor, Director, Producer, Teacher, Consultant and Coach (spoken work and performing, arts)
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 27, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Sindhi, Spanish, French

“It’s for good luck. Right? You’re supposed to kick the flag post for good luck. The old ones had dents in them and people thought they put them—but they were manufactured that way. They had the dents in them. So, you know, it was an interesting thing… I kick it once in a while, but I don’t venture to believe it, but a lot of people do, they’ll kick the flag post on the way to a game.”

 

The informant first learned of this tradition when going to football games as an undergraduate. The informant lamented that nowadays, USC’s traditions are not carried out with the vigor he remembers from his time as an undergrad. He said he has also experienced also a drop in formality in carrying out those traditions at sporting events and at other times. Now that he has returned as an alumnus, he has noticed a change in the students.

I find it fascinating that people who are not traditionally superstitious will participate in a ritual such as this one even without knowing or having any reason for why they do it. Luck seems almost threatening in that large groups of people here have altered their behavior to protect themselves from the off chance that their not participating works against their favor. The ritual becomes the luck itself.