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20-40-60 Etiquette---Should we just sing the right words?

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: September 28, 2011

QUESTION: We are definitely all in for OU football.  For several years now, people are singing the Star Spangled Banner by replacing “Home of The Brave” with “Home of the Sooners.” This is certainly not appropriate, but how do we get the message across to students and fans that it shows absolutely no respect to anybody to sing our national anthem like that? I think the song should be sung as written.

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I see your point that this is inappropriate. No one is trying to offend you though. The loud ‘bang’ and everyone screaming “SOONERS” at the top of their lungs…  what a great atmosphere! I love my country, and I also love my Sooners! I am sorry that you are offended. It is not intentional.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: The yelling of the word “Sooners!” during the National Anthem has bothered me at games, too, but the more university officials have tried to call attention to this insensitive and inappropriate form of school pride, the more defiant the yellers have become. I don’t think it’s possible to explain why it’s a problem in order to make certain people quit doing it — the university has already tried to tackle that issue and has been ignored. Last year, despite messages on the giant board in the stadium asking fans to respect our heroes, some fans still altered the anthem’s word on both 9/11 and during OU’s game against the U.S. Air Force.


The Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel addressed the issue in the newspaper and online at NewsOK last year with little success.


“The song is … about honoring the nation and the sacrifice our military has made,” Tramel wrote last year. “We have had perilous fighting. Rockets have produced red glare. Bombs have burst in air. You have every right to yell ‘Sooners.” Just know that when you do, you’re disrespecting the brave.”

Yes, this great nation is home to the Sooners as well as the brave, and there are plenty of special people who fit both categories. But consider your question and this column another attempt to “get the message across” to the minority of fans who keep replacing “brave” with “Sooners”: Let the Sooners have their football game, and let the deserving, brave heroes who fight for our freedoms, including the right to free speech, have their moment in the spotlight with that song.

HELEN’S ANSWER: We should always be respectful when singing the National Anthem.  It is no longer funny to listen to fans yelling at the end of of it (and I did it too, before it was called to my attention that is was disrespectful.)  It seems to me that last year when OU President David L. Boren and OU Coach Bob Stoops asked the fans to be respectful and to use the words as written, we should have listened to them.

I even heard the students say that they hope the fans will get rid of “Home of the Sooners” tag at the end of the song because it is just bad manners for other schools to have to listen to such disrespect from our school. “Home of the Brave” needs to be sung loud and clear.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Bebe MacKellar, local community leader and volunteer: I agree that it is disrespectful.  When this started I thought it was strange and was shocked at how the words seemed to be “rewritten”.  I am not sure if other schools across the country do this plugging in their team name also.  I do remember an announcement asking people to please say “Home of the Brave” instead of “Home of the Sooners”.  Maybe another announcement needs to be made.  In the meantime I would continue to sing the correct words and hope your neighbors in the stadium follow your lead.

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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