Op-Ed: Winning Big Game deserves a celebration

Oct. 22, 2012, 1:17 a.m.

On Saturday, as you may have heard, we won Big Game. There was a rally in White Plaza, complete with the Band and the Axe. I know it wasn’t well publicized, just an email sent out two hours beforehand, but after three years of this, you should know the deal, and really, gatherings in public squares for the purposes of celebration shouldn’t need to be prescribed by the administration anyway. Its kind of why public squares exist in the first place. Either way, you weren’t there, and that was super not cool.

The Band doesn’t like to complain, what with being merry meisters of musical mayhem and all, so I’m going to do it for them. Most people don’t understand how much work goes into being the LSJUMB, but it is a great deal, and for Big Game Week in particular. Big Game Week is filled with rehearsals and rallies at the expense of class time and one’s better judgment. All told, it added up to around 28 hours of commitment this year, and that’s not even including Saturday.

On Saturday, everyone wakes up at 5 a.m. in order to be at Berkeley by 7:30. Afterward, most everyone would like nothing more than to enter a cryogenic chamber for three years of recuperation, but instead, on the occasions of a Big Game victory, the Band saddles up for a rally around campus that’s supposed to end with a massive convergence in White Plaza; they do it all for you and they are damn grateful for the opportunity. It is, then, not the best feeling in the world for them to discover that they are playing to no one, especially since you clearly heard them, because they are very hard to ignore. And if you, the reader, might be so inclined as to write this grievance off as #firstworldproblems, I would just suggest that it is highly impolite to criticize the people that play music for you, especially when they do it for free.

In many ways, this is not a new trend. The phenomenon of the Band playing to a nonexistent student body is nothing new, and student enthusiasm for football will never reach the level it did back when they allowed beer in the stadium, but this is a facile analysis. Five years ago, when Stanford beat USC as 42-point underdogs, there was a bonfire in the middle of the Quad. Later that year, when Stanford won Big Game against all odds, the student body turned out. Any essentialist argument about the apathy of Stanford fans is just straight up wrong (like all essentialist arguments, really). Maybe success has made you complacent. Maybe it’s been too long since the bad old days for you to truly understand how lucky you are. No matter the cause, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

That rally around campus five years ago when I was a wee freshman is one of my most bliss-filled memories. I would like nothing more than to see it repeated, but this isn’t about me. If you really do love Stanford in that classic collegiate sense, if you really do believe that the Band is the embodiment of the spirit of Stanford, then you should, you know, act like it when celebration is warranted, and winning Big Game always warrants a celebration. Certainly there are optimal and suboptimal ways to channel and express one’s fandom, and I even welcome a debate as to whether or not college football should even exist as an institution (though I doubt many of you were staying home out of protest), but asking people to party together for 30 minutes in one place on a Saturday night is not that outlandish a request.

Peter “Shotgun” McDonald ’11

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