Late last week, I learned that Badger football coach Bret Bielema and UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez issued a statement asking the famed Badger student section to become a little more family friendly.
As a Badger alum, I have gone to my fair share of football games in Camp Randall, including being in said student section during my student days. Last year, for the final game of the season, I took a long time friend who had never been to a Badger game. She and I go to Packer games on a fairly regular basis, but that was her first Badger game. Although she continues to be a die-hard Packers fan and is really not “into” college football, she did state that was the most fun she had ever had at a football game. (And, because of the stands rushing the field, she formed that opinion without Wisconsin’s famed “Fifth Quarter.”)
Many student sections are known for being loud, and ours is no different. However, our student section is hands down the most organized student section in college football. How many does the student section seat? I am guessing at least 10,000 if not more? The level of coordination it takes to do some of the stuff they do, and the fact that they do it without any real formal coordination is simply amazing.
For those not familiar, there are some who have made the comment that the student section is an event all in of itself, and there just happens to be a football game going on also. The wave doesn’t happen unless the student section wants it to happen, and then the control they have over it is simply amazing… they will control the speed (they use three of them), the direction (changing the direction mid-wave), and the famous split wave where they send it back going both directions at the same time. Then there are the chants. Of course the entire section has to count out Bucky’s push ups. (One of the reasons why our school is one of the best in the country, our student section can count up to 70 if needed – LOL.) And, in the event of a first down, the entire section will chant “First and Ten Wisconsin”. Many of these the entire stadium will join with.
These are not the activities that have caught the attention of our coach and athletic director. At some point during the game, half of the student section will turn to the other half and yell, in unison, F___ You. To which the other half will respond, Eat S____. And this will go on for a few minutes. Also, when some type of mistake is made by the other team (they got a significant penalty or fumbled the ball or threw an interception), the student section reminds the guilty party You F_____’ed Up.
Apparently, people have been sending those in charge letters complaining about the language, and conversely those in charge have asked the student section to stop. I hope that Coach Bielema and Director Alvarez understand that by issuing their statement, all they are doing is making it possible for them to report back to the complainer that they tried. The Badger Football Student Section is an entity all its own, and I truly don’t believe they are going change who they are or what they do.
If you don’t want your young children being exposed to the F word or the S word, taking them on a college campus the day of a football game was probably not wise. Instead of trying to lower things to the lowest common denominator, you could be a responsible parent and let your young child know that the use of that language is not appropriate in your household.
I remember going to the Michigan game a few years ago and 4 Michigan students were sitting in front of us. They were in awe of our student section and two (who were not actually from Michigan, just students there) indicated that had they known ahead of time what our student section was like, they might have gone to the UW instead.
Here is my letter to Coach Bielema and Director Alvarez concerning student section use of four letter words….
Director Alvarez, you brought our football program back from the hallows and turned it from an “also ran” to a Big 10 contender year in and year out. You will be forever an honored man on campus because of it. Coach Bielema, you picked up where he left off and have positioned our team for a run at a national championship.
You are both big men on campus… but realize that as big as you are, the student section is a bigger part of the campus experience. I think you are both smart enough to know you are not going to change the student section… I just wish that you both had the courage to tell those few who can’t handle a little Saturday afternoon fun that you aren’t even going to try.
John H. Fischer, ‘97