Tag Archives: team bonding

Slogan: “Two lines, one stripe, 干!”

Text: “两横,一竖,干!”
Pinyin (Simplified): liang heng, yi shu, gan
Translation: Two horizontal, one vertical, fight!

G is a Chinese international student from Anhui Province, Hefei City in China. During high school, he played in a soccer team.
G: “It’s about my soccer team in high school. It’s what we do before game. It’s a like slogan that we do before a game. Every player comes and together to form a circle and we put our hands together and we yell it. And the slogan goes “两横,一竖,干!” It’s not really a good translation, it’s like fighting but not in a good way. We’re using it positively but not in a good way. It’s almost near “f**k” but it’s a positive way we’re using it.”

There is an interesting juxtaposition to be mentioned with the positive denotation of such a negatively connoted word in this chant. This folk phrase, or folk chant is said for good luck and to release tension. It invokes a feeling of unity and comradery between players, which completely changes the meaning of the word in this specific context and therefore, changes the tone of the chant. On the surface level, it is merely a saying that describes how to write the word “干“ in Mandarin. The word itself, as G describes, means something negative and almost taboo whenever spoken aloud in a social setting different from this one. Perhaps because of the presence of the specific competitive sport team-player like atmosphere and tension about competing at all, this phrase seems to take the aggression of the phrase and repurpose into a chant of good luck and release of nerves. The act of doing it with fellow team members joins this community together and that they have something to share strengthens their bond. The meaning changes once it is uttered aloud in this context, making this folklore exclusive to this group of people and therefore only understandable to those who can understand the context that it is said in. This phrase has the exclusive purpose of bringing good luck and releasing tension similar to that of a charm.

The Buckeye Jar

Main piece: KP: Our team does have this tradition where usually once a week we’ll have this giant glass container, very pretty, engraved, it says “Ohio State Rowing” or whatever, and Ohio State has the Buckeye nuts, we’re “The Buckeyes”, and everytime you want to congratulate a teammate, or point out how hard they’ve been working, you go up in front of the whole team, you take a buckeye, and put it in the glass jar. So in the beginning of the year we have no buckeyes, and then at the end of the year we have a whole jar of them, and that shows how far we’ve worked, all year, how much we’ve helped each other, how much we like each other and support each other. 

HB: So you just go and find a nut on the ground?

KP: So we have a couple buckeye trees by the boathouse, so we got buckeyes from there. I think we bought some of them, but most of them were collected by our former head coach because he was weird like that and he liked to do that. But yeah, so that’s kind of cute. 

HB: How do you announce it [that you’re putting the buckeye in]?

KP: So you go up in front of the whole team, and be like “This one’s for KP for working hard during lift” and then you drop it in. 

Background: KP is a sophomore coxswain for The Ohio State University rowing team. After coxing competitively in Maryland clubs for four years, she was recruited to cox at Ohio, which she has now done for two years. She seemed proud of this tradition, and has actively participated in it during her time at Ohio.

Context: I asked KP if her team has any “lucky” objects or superstitions they do/interact with before competitions. While this is not either of those things, she believes that this tradition is one of her team’s most important ones.  She believes that it fulfills its purpose of showing how much her team cares for each other.

Analysis: This ritual serves as team bonding. The folk object; the fancy glass jar engraved with “Ohio State Rowing” represents the team itself; the prestige of the institution. Over the course of the year, as team members laud the actions of others, it becomes full. The metaphor there is then an obvious one of togetherness. However, this jar is not (in the opinion of KP) seen as important as the buckeye nuts, which are either gathered by the person who wants to reward their teammate or collected from inside the boathouse. The buckeye nut (and therefore being a Buckeye, as a symbol of the school) in this context has positive connotations. It is accompanied by another team member acknowledging hard work or skill level, and encourages other members of the group to bond or work harder so that they too can be given this compliment. One then wants to and takes pride in being a Buckeye, or a member of OSU, as it is something that has been earned and a title given to them by other members of their group.

Band Chain Link Necklace


S, a 22-year-old Caucasian female who was born and raised in Colorado. She went to a catholic school and played saxophone in the band. Her family practiced Catholicism regularly. She is now a senior in Computer Science at the University of Southern California.

Background info:

S spent her summers at band camp, where her and the others in band would spend the entire time getting closer to each other as friends. Her director would always make them do group bonding exercises so that the kids would interact with others they wouldn’t normally. S was in band for all four years of high-school.


Late at night, a lot of weird conversations happen. Because S is on a project with me, we were working together at around 2:00am when we started discussing traditions that stuck with us from our childhood or teenage years. The following is a one of the group bonding exercises her band director had the team do.

Main piece:

“One of the biggest lessons we had to learn in band was that we are only a single link in a chain. If one link breaks, the whole chain breaks… The director would always compare this to a violin concert. If one violinist is off key, the whole piece is off key… We had to learn to think as a single unit, walk as a single unit, and play as a single unit. Our director would give out a single chain link on a piece of string to each member of the band at the beginning of camp We had to wear it all day every day to remind us that we are only as strong as our weakest link. If any of the band members lost their chain link, our director would tell us that we would have bad luck that season… Of the four years, only one time someone lost it, and we did terribly that year.”


I like this tradition because it does embody the English phrase “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Having to wear a physical link around them is a cool way to remind people to better themselves for the good of the team. Other traditions also involve wearing a physical reminder of something important. In Christianity, for example, people often wear a cross or crucifix, or even have a statue of Jesus on the cross in their home. Losing an item of importance is also a common way to get bad luck in a lot of superstitions. It was interesting to hear that the one time someone did lose their chain link, the team did poorly. The thought of something going wrong can lead to it actually going wrong if one gets into that mindset. My football coach would always tell us that if we believed the other team was better than us, then we would already be defeated because we allowed ourselves to get into that mindset.

Soccer Streaks

Informant Info: The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator. For the pas

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: I know you played soccer pretty much all of your life until you graduated college. Did you ever have any fun traditions associated with it?


Interviewee: For soccer in high school, we always gave everyone the option to dye a strip of red in the back of their hair (red was one of our school colors) right when the season started. It was like a team bonding thing we did, and it helped bring us closer together as a team (even though it was kinda dumb) because it was just something we all experienced together


Interviewer: Did you start the tradition, or was it already existing? Do you know if it still starts today?


Interviewee: Yeah, we started the tradition in my sophomore year, which was 2007. I’m pretty sure the team still does it, but I’m not fully certain. Either way, I think it was a good way to bring us together, show school spirit, and to intimidate the other team.



The informant became an active-bearer by starting this tradition among the team. I wouldn’t classify this as a superstition of luck, but rather a tradition to, as the informant said it best, “bring the team closer together.” If you can get along and be close with everyone on the team, then the team is more likely to succeed by sharing improved communication while on and off the field.



Bonding over complaints about governing body

“One of the things I learned from the previous club president was all about the body of students and staff that runs all the recreational sports teams on the USC campus called the RCC, and what I learned was that they are terrible and that they don’t do anything right, and that all of our problems can be traced back to them. What I then discovered on my own was that is not quite true, and so what I’ve passed down to other people is that the RCC does a lot of good things for us. However, one of the things is that they don’t quite know how to open doors for us properly. For as long as anybody’s been around they have not come on time to open doors. So, what we have to do is, every time we go to practice, somebody has to go at least 15 minutes early to make a phone call to the people in the Lyon Center and have them come over and open the door for us, and every time they’re surprised. There’s rarely an occasion where they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. We already knew about that.’ This happens because the staff changes so regularly over there, it seems, but if nobody was sent at 5:45, then nobody would be sent until 6:15 or whenever we called them. We learned to get out our phones and make that call, which meant a conversation every week about how terrible the RCC was and how all of our problems were their fault. It was a team bonding thing weirdly in the end, commiserating over doors. It’s a little odd.”

Background Information and Context:

The interaction between team members about the RCC’s inadequacies happens prior to almost every practice, which occurs three times a week. Usually, it will take place in the halls outside the Physical Education building, outside the South Gym or the basement exercise room that the team reserves for practice. The informant decided to start with this anecdote when he was told that he could freely speak about his experience on the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team and interesting things that an outsider wouldn’t know about it. The informant has been on the team for multiple years and served as team president for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

Collector’s Notes:

I have stood outside the doors of the PED basement and south gym more times than I can count, engaging in exactly what the informant described, but until we had this conversation, it never crossed my mind that this was a sort of bonding tradition. It makes sense when compared to the way citizens complain about their government. Even though the government is responsible for a lot of good things, we choose to focus on the negatives, and the act of complaining about the same experiences connects us as citizens, uniting us against those who are perceived to be separate from us because they have more power/money/influence/authority and tell us what to do.