Time for ‘Rammer Jammer’ to go

Crimson Tide celebrated the 14th National Championship at Bryant Denny Stadium on January 21. /CW|Harish Rao

Evan Ward

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In the afterglow of another national football championship for the Crimson Tide, UA students and alumni can take comfort in knowing that Alabama is truly on top of the college football world. With two titles in three years and a top-rated recruiting class coming in this fall, it looks as though we are going to be on top for quite a while.

Unfortunately, something is preventing us from enjoying this football renaissance to the fullest. In a time when we should be walking tall, proud of our school and our team, there is lingering self-doubt. We are embarrassed and with good reason. Our shame stems from the actions of two well-known fanatics: Harvey Updyke, accused tree poisoner; and Brian Downing, the “Big Easy Tea-Bagger.” The actions of these two fans have damaged the image of the fan base as a whole and of our school itself. Fairly or unfairly, we are now dealing with a bit of a perception problem.

UA’s administration cannot control the actions of a few crazed fans, nor can they distribute the punishment for them. Thus, it doesn’t seem fair that the UA community should be held accountable for the actions of the tree-killer and the tea-bagger. But consider this: UA’s administrators, athletic department, students and alumni set the standard for fanhood on game day. When sidewalk-alumni visit our campus and enter Bryant Denny Stadium, they emulate us. The culture of fanhood we engender on campus can go a long way in determining how the casual Tide fan represents our school in public.

Therefore, one can only conclude that we, UA’s students and alumni, are partially responsible for our image problem. Yes, we do in fact help create the Updykes and Downings of the world, but I do not believe our UA community actively engenders a fanatical game day environment – as long as we continue to ignore the way in which certain traditions and rituals are being construed by casual fans. It is time to do a little self-policing as a university community, and consider taking steps to repair our damaged public image.

I’d like to offer up one step right now: “Rammer Jammer” must go. I know that such a suggestion is sure to be met with fierce backlash. When the idea was first presented to me, I returned fire with a furious defense of this invigorating post-game ritual. But after contemplating the issue, I have come to the conclusion that it is simply absurd for a school that displays the word “class” during its pregame video to engage in such lowbrow nonsense. Let me try to soften the blow:

First, the Rammer Jammer tradition has been reigned in before. The cheer used to be conducted before and during football games. After a few of these games ended badly for the Tide, administrators began to feel rather silly, and claims of “we’re gonna beat the hell outta you” began to ring hollow. The cheer was temporarily banned, but was soon reinstated as a post-game ritual.  My point here is to say that it has been altered before and can be altered again.

Second, I don’t think I’d be making an outlandish claim when I say that Rammer Jammer’s use should, at best, be situational. There are certain instances in which the cheer is simply not appropriate. Recent home games against overmatched opponents from the football championship subdivision serve as perfect examples of instances in which the cheer simply does not mean anything. In 2010, games such as Penn State and Virginia Tech, reeling from tragedy in 2009, are examples of situations in which the cheer is entirely inappropriate.

If we are able to admit that the cheer should be used sparingly, we should consider whether or not the cheer is worth keeping at all.  Rammer Jammer is an opportunity for the fans to gratify themselves, nothing more. It doesn’t celebrate the achievements of players and coaches – the real competitors. After all, “we” didn’t actually beat the hell out of anything.

Although the University community didn’t create our latest perception problem, we can take steps to fix it. Rammer Jammer isn’t nearly as hallowed a tradition as “Yea Alabama,” “Bammy Bound,” or a long drawn out “Roll Tide.” Personally, I wouldn’t mind ending games with a rousing rendition of “Ala–Bama.” In any case, Rammer Jammer should go.

 

Evan Ward is a senior majoring in history. His column runs on Wednesdays.