The big tournament starts tomorrow, and bracketmania is once again sweeping America. Funny how no one pays attention to College basketball until we have brackets to fill out. Pure madness.
Anyway, a couple of years ago I wrote a piece for InsideHigherEd called "March Madness." It actually has very little to do with basketball per se, but it's fun nonetheless. Here's a bit:
Every March, university campuses embrace an enduring tradition. No, not spring break. I'm referring to college basketball, and those few weeks when our attention turns to bubbles and bracketology, office pools and buzzer-beaters, Cinderella stories and Final Four mayhem.
As we watch marquee teams and those making their only TV appearance of the year, we're constantly serenaded by marching bands furiously trumpeting fight songs during breaks in the action. Their feverish displays showcase collegiate spirit at its best.
We might find ourselves whistling the tunes of teams surviving well into the tournament, but how many of us know the words to these fight songs? What do these verses reveal?
First off, it's evident that most songs celebrate sport and drinking, but not necessarily in that order. Penn's battle cry of Fight on, Pennsylvania, put the ball across that line," is matched by a ditty called "Drink a Highball," which concludes with scores of literal-minded Quakers tossing slices of bread onto the court during the line, "Here's a toast to dear old Penn." Similarly, Georgia Tech pays tribute to imbibing with the line, "Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear" in its "Ramblin' Wreck" anthem.
That statement is preceded by the claim that the singer is a "helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva engineer." Maine has its own "Stein Song," which exhorts students to "drink to all the happy hours, drink to the careless days!" And New Mexico State enthusiasts promise to "buy a keg of booze" and "drink to the Aggies 'til we wobble in our shoes."
Read the rest here. And happy bracketing.
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