The East Vision

‘USA!’ chant banned at OK Conference football games

Student section leader Jack Gabridge '17 rallies after touchdown against Wyoming.

Keagan Haulenbeek, Editor in Chief

“USA! USA! USA!” The chant is powerful and clear every Friday under the football lights.  When Graham Post ‘17 waves the American flag every Friday night, students chant until their throats hurt. It’s pride, it’s tradition, it’s patriotic, it’s ours. Now, the MHSAA is trying to steal this tradition away from us.

The MHSAA head of the OK White conference banned the use of this cheer because of its supposed meaning. The board reviewed this policy recently because some students at another school in the OK White conference were showing controversial behavior with USA flags and chants. “Students are using the chant in a derogatory manner – such as ‘U Suck A**.’ That’s what we have the problems with,” said Jim Haskins, OK Conference Commissioner during an interview with MLive.

I can understand that if we were actually using the chant in a derogatory way, then yeah, take it away from us. But I for one have never used the chant to mean “U Suck A**.” I don’t think anyone else has either. Where did Jim Haskins even get that idea? It sounds like a bad attempt to get kids in trouble by giving something harmless and patriotic a negative connotation. This is a matter that the OK Conference Commissioner didn’t need to get involved with, especially considering his reasoning.

A possible impact on his changing the rules is blow-back he is getting from parents. I know that East students were challenged by some Facebook posts after a game against Wyoming. Basically, what happened was that there was a teacher from the opposing school who thought that a lot of our harmless chants, traditions, and mascots had racist connotation. She said that our “Harambe” is racist, even though we bring it to EVERY game, regardless of the predominant race in the school.  

I intend to still chant the chant, because I can exercise my right to freedom of speech. It is absolutely absurd that we live in a country where you can’t even chant your own country’s name. It doesn’t make sense. If anyone is offended by chanting a chant that supports the country that you live in, there is no reason for you to live in this country anymore. Sure, there is a lot going on in America right now, like the debate on racial profiling by police officers. For this, I think a lot of times, the police officers are just doing their job. I don’t think it has a whole lot to do with race IN MANY CASES. I, however,  acknowledge that the actions of SOME police officers are racially motivated, but making a blanket statement that all police officers are racist is simple bigotry in and of itself. There are bad cops out there, just like there are bad people in any field. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still support and respect the people that make it possible for you to have your own freedoms,  including my freedom of speech, which I‘m using to speak out on this matter.  

The “USA” chant isn’t harmful to anyone, because when East Grand Rapids chants it, it’s simply to show support to our great country, not to cast shame on anyone. If you’re so offended by it, either leave the game, or plug your ears. For one to be so outraged by such a harmless thing shows me that America is going soft. People need to grow a thicker skin and stop being so offended by everything people say nowadays. Yes, racism and other hate exists in certain areas, but that isn’t a reason to not love our country and the people who fight for our flag, our freedom, and our rights every single day. If the National Anthem is sung before every sporting event, then why can’t we chant USA?

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