Not a gentleman’s sport: Dixieland Delight and other “traditions”

Erin Mosley

The two weeks prior to Alabama’s first home game were full of drama and suspense. Resolutions were written begging for reconsideration and underground meetings were planned. And still, after all of the commotion, clamor and hype surrounding its possible removal from Alabama’s game day playlist, “Dixieland Delight” was played in Bryant-Deny Stadium on Saturday. I opted to do homework instead of attending the game, but around six o’clock, the all too familiar tune carrying with it the chants of one hundred thousand fans blared loud enough from the Bryant-Denny speakers to clearly be heard from my kitchen window.

At this point, most are aware of the fact that the student body at The University of Alabama was facing the potential loss of its “Dixieland Delight” privileges. As it turns out, we were probably never in danger of losing our freedoms in the first place.

The same way athletic departments punish football players by requiring them to sit out for half of a game, we too the student body, got away with a mere slap on the wrist for our less than savory display of character at last year’s Iron Bowl and the threat was nothing more than a threat. In a knee-jerk reaction to media scrutiny during a time when an examining eye was already on us, Athletic Director Bill Battle issued a statement claiming that the game day playlist would be reviewed but apparently, the song was allowed to remain.

“Dixieland Delight” however, is not the problem and removing it would do little to change the antagonistic atmosphere in Bryant-Denny. Many students have declared that an a cappella version of the song would be shouted from the stands if the original version were to be banned. No, the problem does not lie within a mid-tempo country ballad but rather exists much deeper within the culture that we have created throughout the football nation and more specifically at The University of Alabama. At orientation, students receive a small cheer book filled with traditional chants. Among these cheers is “Rammer Jammer” whose “we just beat the hell outta you” lyrics also put it in a position to potentially become obsolete. But after students voted to keep it a part of spirited game day tradition, “Rammer Jammer” lives on. It’s only limit is the amount of times it can be played.

Bitter rivalries are promoted amongst collegiate teams especially between Alabama and Auburn, and we are groomed from the beginning to hate Auburn, LSU and Tennessee too, but when students take these rivalries one step further, the possibility exists to remove a song that is inherently less crude than the school cheer played at the end of a win. Where is the line and when do we cross it? At what point does a little rivalry become obscenely inappropriate?

It seems to be a mute issue now but banning the song might eliminate the specific, “F— Auburn” chant that echoed throughout the stands, although I doubt it would. Giving “Dixieland Delight” the boot would not change the bestial culture we have built around football. During my time as a student at UA, I have seen alligators hanged by nooses while belligerent fans yell for the opposing team to be destroyed and murdered. We revel and cheer with glee every time a quarter back is brutally sacked. We all have become acclimated to the nature of the game. The more violent, the better, and at times, a Saturday football game involving twenty year-old kids feels like a contest in a bloody Roman arena.

Southerners take pride in their manners. In the South, everyone is a gentleman and a lady except on Saturdays in autumn when even the most genteel of students and fans alike become swept away in the moment. I have. It’s the nature of the mob.

I’m not suggesting that we ban “Rammer Jammer” and “Dixieland Delight” or that football fans transform into hushed golf observers but a little discretion from fans and students, myself included, would go a long way in exhibiting the character and class we claim to be proud of. There is a balance that is needed between having fun and being foul. Maybe it is time to reevaluate the culture we have created. We’ve been given another chance and perhaps for the school that not only plays football but lives it, a little bit of grace can be extended to the opposing team.

Erin Mosley is a junior majoring in studio art. Her column runs biweekly.