Ending anthem with 'Sooners' is a Star-Spangled shame

Columnist Berry Tramel writes that the unfortunate tradition at OU's stadium embarrasses the team, the school, and the state.
by Berry Tramel Modified: September 14, 2010 at 6:23 pm •  Published: September 13, 2010


photo - A Norman police officer salutes the flag before the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Florida State University Seminoles (FSU) on Sat., Sept. 11, 2010, in Norman, Okla.  Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
A Norman police officer salutes the flag before the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Florida State University Seminoles (FSU) on Sat., Sept. 11, 2010, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

In my OU report card after the Florida State game, I gave the Sooner crowd a D for patriotism. For which I owe everyone an apology.

Should have been an F.

Just like at every Sooner home game, a big number — maybe half — of the crowd embarrassed the team, the school, the state and themselves by finishing off the national anthem with, in unison, "and the home of the SOONERS!"

Bad enough that it happens every autumn Saturday. Even more egregious that it occurred on 9/11, after a delicate video message that asked fans to respect the solemnity of the day. Worst of all comes Saturday, when the knuckleheads will unite even with the Air Force Academy as the visitor.

This is a phenomenon that can't be stopped. Can't be shamed.

Mob mentality rules. Otherwise sane, rational, decent people lose their judgment and their scruples and their pride. Loss of pride is a powerful thing.

Oh, make no mistake. Some of the mob is made up of idiots who don't know any better. Others are cement heads, thinking it's cool to cause trouble. Some are simply swimming in so much Sooner fervor, they don't know what they're doing. And there's always the rebels who cop an attitude and yell "Sooners" because David Boren or Joe Castiglione asked them not to.

Doesn't matter the cause or motivation. It makes us all look bad. Makes everyone from this great state look like a bunch of rubes. Makes us all seem like a bunch flag-waving zealots who will suspend our love of country if a pigskin is involved.

Readers have trotted out some ideas to try to solve the problem. Here are the best suggestions:

1. Have a military hero — perhaps a wounded veteran — make a plea, either live or on the video board.

2. Have a Sooner legend — Sam Bradford and Brian Bosworth? — ask fans to refrain.

3. Just surrender and quit singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and switch to "America the Beautiful" or "God Bless America" and hope the mob can't organize enough to find a spot in either song they can bastardize.

"I'd like to say there's an original idea in there, but there's not," said Castiglione, OU's athletic director. "All those things have been discussed."


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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