Tag Archives: USC football

Kicking the lamppost on gameday

--Informant Info--
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA / Denver, CO
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/18/16
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

DK is a junior at the University of Southern California, and is originally from Denver, CO.

DK had some more USC folklore to share with me:

“Football season is a huge production at USC, and probably the most obvious time when the whole school gets together…on gamedays, everyone usually tailgates on campus, setting up tents and hanging out together hours before the game even starts. Once kickoff is approaching, everyone sort of migrates away from campus to cross Exposition and head to the Coliseum…if you go with everyone else through the south entrance of campus, there are these huge light posts at the exit, and for some reason everyone has to kick the base before they keep heading to the Coliseum. Honestly, I have no idea why people do it, and no one I talk to seems to know either. But there’s always backup once you get there, because everyone’s standing around this lamppost waiting to kick it.”

I asked DK what her best guess was as to the origin of the ritual:

“Maybe we’re kicking at our opponents? I don’t know how threatening that is.”

My analysis:

Sports rituals are very common for college and professional teams, and are probably even more prevalent during home games. The entire process of gathering together on campus to tailgate, then migrating together to head to the game, and stopping to perform this ritual without even knowing the meaning demonstrates the strength of USC pride and how it indoctrinates us best on days like gamedays. When school spirit is running high we’re more willing to participate in the most random of activities, because all of it is bringing us together.

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.

USC game days – kicking the flagpole

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jewish-American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/9/2014
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hebrew

During any game day, while walking to the Coliseum, Trojan football fans (anyone who’s rooting for USC) kick the bases of the flagpoles at the end of Trousdale for good luck during the game.

On the way to the Coliseum (USC’s football stadium), it’s common to see fans passing into the stadium park to kick the flagpoles. The informant, as a marching band member, was told from the first game on to kick the pole as the band marched by, but other USC students find out from student friends or USC alumni at the games.

I spoke to my informant during an on-campus event.

It doesn’t appear that there is any real rational behind the practice? Maybe it’s like the theater practice of “breaking a leg” or the general saying “knock on wood,” with the caveat that since not all USC Trojan football fans are USC students or alumni, the flagpoles are a universally-recognized symbol that all fans can engage with.