Tag Archives: football

Birthday Football Game

Text: “For my birthday, my dad and I used to go to the first UT Austin football game of every season.”


Informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California studying mechanical engineering, originally from Austin, Texas from Chinese descent.

“My dad really likes UT football and my birthday always fell around the time of the first game of the year. I haven’t really heard other people doing this. I mean, I’m sure people did it, but I haven’t heard. It’s fun, I like it, it’s good time with my dad. When I go, I remember the previous years.”

Analysis: This is an example of the ritualization of individual life cycles. Ritualizing individual life cycle is a way in which we derive our identity and symbolize the identity we are trying to project. For the informant, this ritual integrates football, her hometown, and family as a part of her identity. The when is clearly defined as the ritual occurs at a scheduled time each year and commemorates a very specific event of her birth alongside her father who also symbolizes her birth somewhat.

Andre Jackson


Andre Jackson is a football player who grew up here, in the suburbs of Chicago. He was the size of King Kong, could lift 500 pounds, and most of all, he was a hell of a football player. You should be like Andre Jackson. 


Andre Jackson was a real person who became a local legend while out of town because of being someone extraordinary for his area. He went to the University of Iowa, a D1 school, and played linebacker. 

The interviewee grew up not knowing Andre Jackson, but hearing the legends and that Andre was 5 years older than him. VL thought Andre sounded pretty cool, but didn’t think that much of him until Andre visited VL’s school in 7th or 8th grade and gave a talk about what his life as a D1 athlete looked like, as well as what path he had taken to get there. That, and especially Andre’s pure physical presence in the room, really spurred VL’s desire to follow in Andre’s steps and is why he ended up playing D1 football himself.VL later learned that one of his closest friends was Andre Jackson’s little brother.

 Andre was one of few people in that area to go to college, and he inspired VL and 6 of VL’s friends to do that as well, instead of doing what most would, which is graduate high school and go straight to working a job. He was different and he was special, which inspired others in the area to try and be that as well.


I think the idolization of Andre Jackson speaks to the hope for great success that his existence instilled into a community that was otherwise mostly resigned to their lives being rather ordinary. Other than this, I think the interviewee’s interpretation of the legend is pretty spot on. 

Senior Soccer practice


EI: “So basically, on the club soccer team, we have a tradition: when the seniors graduate, we have a “senior practice.” Basically, before we go to the field, we go to someone’s house or apartment and get really drunk, really trashed, and then we go to the field and then just mess around on the field. We play like, small side games. It’s basically the last hurrah in sending them off into life after college. We do it every year for the graduating seniors.”

CONTEXT: EI is a freshman at USC studying business who doesn’t drink. She’s been playing soccer since high school, and she made varsity club soccer in her first year at USC: this is her first year learning about the senior practice tradition.

ANALYSIS: EI hasn’t yet participated in this tradition. She’s learning this as a freshman, and because she doesn’t drink, so she can’t fully participate in the tradition and express her identity as a member of the club team. As for the seniors, the senior practice being one “last hurrah” is necessary from a psychological standpoint: the end of college soccer is genuinely the end of an era. The club soccer team is not professional—this is likely one of the last times that these students will play soccer in this capacity. For that matter, this is the end of their athletic prime in terms of biology. Any league that graduated students participate in from this point forward will take much more effort to play with the same consistency and the same high energy. The senior practice helps provide a bookend, officially marking the beginning of this new era. Even the consumption of alcohol helps solidify their new place as adults. Even though many students illegally drink in college, seniors are finally of age, making the fact that their drinking is legal a mark of seniority.

Auburn University – Rolling Toomer’s Corner


Informant MW was a current undergraduate student at Auburn University at the time of this collection. The informant’s parents are both Auburn fans who participate in game-day events and they encouraged MW to do the same as they grew up. As an undergraduate student, MW has had the opportunity to continue participating in some of the same game-day events they did before attending Auburn.

Auburn football fans celebrate the game day in a multitude of ways, all of which contribute to the large game day culture which can be experienced both on and off campus. I asked MW if they could share some of the traditions/game day rituals they enjoy partaking in.

This particular tradition is beloved by many Auburn fans.


“When Auburn wins a football game, we all go roll Toomer’s Corner” “It’s usually for football games but sometimes we do it for other sports when it’s a big game.”

See the Toomer's Corner madness following Auburn's win over Alabama


This game-day ritual overtly celebrates the victory of Auburn University’s sports team. While to outsiders it might just appear to be an enjoyable tradition, to insiders it has come to represent the passionate spirit and comradery of the university and its fans. In hearing about this ritual, I am inclined to believe that it expresses and reflects one of Auburn University’s most fundamental values: unity within community. By encouraging large groups to gather and roll specified trees on its campus, Auburn is permitting a temporary yet unavoidable change in its physical appearance. If only one or a few people were to participate in this ritual, it would not have much of an effect, but by encouraging mass participation in this ritual, Auburn is allowing a demonstration of the potential that students/fans have when they unite. Just as sports themselves are team efforts, this game-day ritual hinges on teamwork. While this tradition provides students and fans with an exciting activity, it is simultaneously functioning to represent and physicalize the shared value of unity.

The University of Alabama – Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer Sports Chant


Informant AA was a current undergraduate student at The University of Alabama at the time of this collection. Both of AA’s parents are passionate Alabama fans which meant that AA was practically born into the already prevalent game-day culture. Alabama game-day culture finds its peak during football season as The University of Alabama tends to beat just about any team they play. Tailgating, parades, and ritualized viewing are all aspects of this widespread game-day culture that can be especially observed in Tuscaloosa, AL where the university is located.

Upon attending The University of Alabama themself, AA was granted access to the student section of the Bryant-Denny Stadium where the university’s home football games are held. Admission into this section is limited and students have to reserve their place for a select few games before the season even begins.

When speaking with AA, they told me a chant the student section and other Alabama fans yell out just after winning a football game.


The chant is known as Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and it goes as follows: “Hey __________! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” This chant is repeated three times and is accompanied by the university’s “Million Dollar” marching band.

The ________ in the chant changes from game to game so that Alabama fans can direct the chant directly at the team they just beat. For example, if Alabama were to beat Auburn University, the chant would say, “Hey Tigers! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” If Alabama were to beat Georgia, the chant would be changed to “Hey Bulldogs! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer give em hell, Alabama!” The target of the chant is the losing team’s mascot making the chant more appropriate and personal for each circumstance it is yelled.


After hearing about AA’s description and experience with this chant, I am lead to believe that this example of game-day folk speech serves to showcase victory, celebration, and unity. According to AA, the chant can be heard all across campus and many tailgaters outside of the stadium will even participate. While this chant has become traditional when the team is victorious, it functions to connect/unite Alabama fans. By participating in this chant at its appropriate time, each fan’s scream is contributing to a singular voice that is more powerful than could be achieved individually. Similar to the sport itself, teamwork and communication are the driving forces behind large-scale victories. By chanting, the students and fans become a kind of team themselves. Campus communities and cultures thrive when comradery can be attained. In becoming a traditional folk saying, the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer victory chant successfully celebrates victory while simultaneously strengthening the moral and bonds between Albama fans.