By now we’ve all talked to death the Wisconsin Busybody Association’s rules on Acceptable Chants for athletic events. You may have tried to imagine someone who was truly, deeply wounded by the “Na-na-na-na/Goodbye” chant, and you may also have imagined him in the locker room, blubbering so much Bud Grant appeared out of nowhere and slapped him like Patton.
While I never got involved in tribal incantations to hoot at the losers in an athletic competition, there are some situations that merit a good cathartic taunt.
Last week, for example, I sat in an airplane that had landed and docked and was ready to send its passengers yawning and blinking into the terminal. But no, we had to wait for the Airport Police. One of the passengers had gone into the aft lav and lit up a cigarette, which, on the list of “Things you cannot get away with on an airplane,” is right up there with “run at the cockpit door with an ax.” It’s been banned on airplanes since the previous century.
But no, one guy decided to be the person who could not sit in a chair for three hours without committing a Federal Offense. Of course they knew who it was — when you emerge from a tiny space in which you have expelled several cubic meters of blue smoke and walk back to your seat, it’s as you exploded an olfactory dye pack.
Eventually the Smoke Police arrived and took away the guy who’d stunk up the plane and made everyone wait, and we all did the modern thing: We got out our phones and took pictures! What we should have done was sing the “Na na na na, et cetera” taunting song, just to relieve the frustration and bond over the experience.
But that would be wrong. At least in the eyes of Wisconsin worrywarts. So let’s look at the chants they dislike, and make some suggested replacements:
Instead of Na-Na-Na-Na/Na-Na-Na-Na/Hey-hey/Goodbye, the students should be allowed to sing Na/Hey/Goodbye (This contains 25 percent of the original amount of offending Na’s and Hey’s and, thus, ought to be a quarter as offensive as the original statement.
Sung to the original melody: “ True you did lose/ but no harsh boos/ have a nice day/ Here’s a trophy!”
Also banned: “Booing of any kind” Hmm. I’m aware of one kind of booing, which is when people make the sound “booo.” It is a descending note ranging from three to six notes on the scale. Perhaps there’s an uptalk variety, like “booooo?” But I don’t think so. And while we’re on the subject, is ooooohing allowed? Oooohing is usually reserved for awe and admiration, but if Wisconsin high school students decided among themselves that oooohing was really booing, would it be allowed? If they ooooohed while someone held up a sign that said B, would they be expelled? Perhaps if they all yelled oooooooooB, followed by hey-hey-hey-hey/na-na-na-na and left the auditorium walking backward, authorities would think time had reversed course and be too confused to penalize anyone.
Students are forbidden from chanting “USA! USA!” This makes sense; the youth of Wisconsin have not been charged with representing the entire nation, and just because Snogohomie Falls beat Menomonie doesn’t mean that the losers are not part of the United States of America or are second-class citizens. In the interests of preventing untoward chauvinism, the students on both sides should join in shouting, “THE RICH TAPESTRY OF NATIONS IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE UNITED STATES!”
Finally, excessive motion in the stands is banned. This keeps people from making distracting gestures when someone is trying to make a free throw, something that requires great concentration. Really, would you burst into an operating room and blow a kazoo? Of course not. But let’s be honest: Trying to psych out the free-thrower is something of a tradition, and perhaps we can reach a compromise — spectators will be allowed to blink rapidly if the rest of their body is immobile. It goes without saying that no one shall even think “Na na na na” while blinking.
With these minor changes, the students can express their school solidarity without unduly wounding the mood of the losers — sorry, the differently scored — and everyone will feel better about themselves. Why, I remember high school games in which the other side would erupt in a taunt: “We’ve got spirit, yes we do/ we’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?”
Whoa! Hold on! Where did this come from? Must we convene a hasty conference to determine whether we did, in fact, have spirit? If we did have spirit, was it sufficient to allow us to throw the taunt back at them? We’d leave the game downhearted, thinking, “Man, next time we really have to figure out this spirit-thing before so we’re prepared.”
Things were easier then. We just yelled it back at them until we were hoarse. Those days are gone. Wonder if the Chant Police will show up to lead away someone who uttered the forbidden Na Na chant, just like they took off the guy who lit up in the airplane bathroom.
Only if tampering with the psyche of the opposing team is a Federal Offense, which seems ridiculous. So far, anyway.