NORMAN — A controversy is brewing in Norman. But it goes beyond play-calling, injuries or development of the offensive line.
This controversy has carried into the stands at the University of Oklahoma, where two of the state’s passions are clashing: patriotism and Sooner football. Before each game, OU fans shout "home of the Sooners” instead of "home of the brave” at the end of "The Star-Spangled Banner.” And the debate rages. Is this school spirit? Or disrespect to the national anthem? "It’s really out of character for this state,” said Dick Murphy, a combat veteran from Boston, who moved to Norman after retiring from the Army and who buys season tickets for football and men’s and women’s basketball games. "I just feel it’s disrespectful to the flag and to the nation. "It bugs me.” Other fans don’t see what the big deal is. "I’ve never meant it as disrespect,” Chad Edwards said. "It’s simply a show of school spirit. Only prior to an Oklahoma football game do I say ‘Sooners,’ rather than ‘brave.’ Our servicemen are brave and the national anthem is important, but they are just words. Not showing support for the troops is disrespectful, not what we Sooners fans say prior to a game.” Nobody knows exactly when people began shouting "home of the Sooners” before football games, though the consensus is that the practice began earlier this decade.