A new trend in
college football cheering has appeared this season, a change in yelling
comparable to the change in poetry from Longfellow's inspirational verse to T.
S. Eliot's limp, anticlimactic lines. At the first Southern Cal game the
rooters, instead of making the Los Angeles night air ring with skyrocket and
locomotive yells, siss-boom-ahs and rah-rah-rahs, chorused such casual and
extemporaneous observations as "It's fantastic," or, "What a
game." The Trojans massed their defenses and stopped Oregon State for three
downs near the goal. Fourth down, inches to go. Did the stands break out in
massed rhythmic bellowings urging, "Hold that line"? No, they murmured
in chorus: "One more time."
Pitt walloped UCLA in the Coliseum to the especial discomfort of a local
sportscaster and prognosticator, Sam Baiter, renowned for his UCLA
partisanship. So the UCLA cheering section produced a spur-of-the-moment
commentary in chorus, practically a Henry James sentence converted into a
college yell: "How do you feel, Sam Baiter? We know how you feel."
Cheers, come to
think of it, usually reflect changes in social life, new moods, contemporary
phenomena. When education was classical, Yale produced its "Brekekekéx,
ko-áx, ko-áx," borrowed from the Frogs of Aristophanes. After the Civil
War, Princeton took over the siss, boom, ah from the song of the 7th Regiment
of the Army of the Potomac. Innumerable locomotive yells derived from the
wonderful sound of a wood-burning locomotive picking up speed. In the Rough
Rider era of history it seemed only natural to hail a touchdown with
"osky-wow-wow." So now, in the era of the cocktail party and the
restrained hello, when moderns tend to murmur "wonderful" or
"terrific" to express approval, or "oh, great" to express the
opposite, we are getting a sort of conversational plain chant at football
We guess it's a
natural development, and welcome enough, but trust it won't be carried too far.
If not watched, the cheering section could become a sort of mass television
commentator, saying (all together now, and put some life in it), "An
interesting play." Or the roar of the crowd could sink to something like an
organized murmur of cocktail party small talk, everyone saying at the same
time, "What utter nonsense," or "Well, that does it,"
Advice to the
A trim, superbly
designed young lady with close-cropped ash-blond curls and gray-blue eyes
flecked with worry turned up in our offices the other day. Her name, she said,
was Nancy Boeseke and she needed help: what, if anything, could we tell her
about a group of young men known collectively as the New York Yankees?
Well, as luck
would have it, we did happen to have a fact or two on hand about that very
group, and we were more than pleased to turn them over to a lady in distress.
But why, we wondered, did she need such information? The answer was simplicity
itself and supplied with a long, level look from those gray-blue eyes.
"Baseball players," said Nancy, "get their feelings hurt very
easily if you don't know who they are. I'm going to be flying the Yankees to
Milwaukee and back and I wouldn't want to make a mistake like asking Mr.
Stengel if he was the first baseman or anything like that."
By now, providing
she has done her homework, we hope that Nancy knows all about Mr. Stengel and
his friends, and we think it only fair that they should know a little something
about her. So—if we're all settled comfortably in the United Airlines DC-7 that
will serve as private air taxi for the Yankees during the series—please allow
us to perform an introduction. Ladies, may we present Mr. Casey Stengel and his
boys, all baseball players of note? Gentlemen, these are your airline hostesses
for the duration of the series. The tall brunette just over there is Phyllis
Baker, who knows all there is to know about baseball because she has flown the
Cubs to the West Coast several times. The Blonde just over here is her roommate
Nancy was born in
Santa Barbara, Calif. where the national game plays second fiddle to a rougher
pastime known as football. As a matter of fact, she was born on New Year's Day,
which was probably lucky since a victory for his alma mater (Stanford 7
Southern Methodist 0) at the Rose Bowl that afternoon served to mollify in some
measure her sportsman father's indignation at siring a mere girl.