Letter to the Editor

Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?

One of the reasons that the USC football team has problems adjusting to the adversity of raucous crowds on the road is because the USC athletic administration eradicated the familiarity of performing under adverse conditions during the spring of 2006.

Perhaps some football fans can remember how the Coliseum was “rockin’ and rollin’” during the 2005 USC-Fresno State game. Fresno State had brought a sizable fan base, which was primarily seated in the west end zone visitor section.

Following USC’s loss to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl, major changes were made in seating arrangements. To suppress the voices of the opponents, the visiting band and visitor seating section were moved from the west end zone to the upper wasteland corner next to the east end peristyle — far beyond the perimeters of the field.

Without getting input from the very students whose tuition paid their salaries, the athletic administration and Office of Student Affairs exiled the marching band from its seats in the student section to the east end zone bleachers (aka, the sun deck) to be separated and isolated from the very students and fan base it was supposed to be leading, so that the band, with amplification, could “drown out the opposing team’s fans and band,” which were now seated beyond the perimeters of the field anyway.

After filling the vacated band seats with students moved from other levels, the athletic administration then raised the price of the student activity card and offered the vacated student seats to prospective financial donors. By the time student government was notified, the seats had already been sold. (USC students were expected to subsidize their own discrimination.) It was all about exploiting the severed relationship between the student community and the band. Money was more important than self-esteem.

I warned Athletic Director Mike Garrett and USC Marching Band Director Art Bartner that severing the relationship between the student community and the band would create an atmosphere of detachment and ineffectiveness, thus eliminating the 12th-man advantage. I spoke from experience, because the same thing had happened at my undergraduate alma mater five years prior. (My alma mater has since moved the band back to its seats in the stands.)

The band’s amplification is now so tinny, piercing and out-of-sync by the time it hits the student section and seats farther west that it makes Trojan fans want to leave the arena due to headaches — and NOT cheer along — and the band’s sound remains out of sync with the routines being performed by the Song Girls in front of the main student section. If the band needs to be amplified so that its sound reaches the main student cheering section, then perhaps the band shouldn’t have been separated from the student body in the first place.

All of these changes eliminated the rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere that used to be enjoyed in the Coliseum and, instead, created a strange, antiseptic melee that can’t properly prepare the team for raucous crowds on the road.

Those rockin’ and rollin’ times could return to the Coliseum and the football team could be better prepared for adverse conditions on the road, if the athletic administration would admit its mistake and do its best to correct the situation. It’s that simple.

Martin Osborne

Doctorate student studying musical arts