Three-fifths of my family claim to be college football fans. Their team of choice, though, is not the Badgers. They, alas, are Sooners fans -- my husband is Oklahoma born and bred. But regardless of the lack of UW-Madison sports allegiance in our home, four-fifths of us will dutifully attend at least one home football game every season. (My 11-year-old daughter will invariably work the phone lines in search of a better offer than an afternoon at Camp Randall. She appears to have no patience for grown men in Lycra doing end zone dances that look suspiciously like a middle school calisthenics class.)
So yes, my 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
As a parent, though, I know this is not the first time my kids have heard these words. They've played their own unsupervised version of football at our neighborhood park for years. I'm guessing far worse has been uttered. My boys are now teenagers; their social media feeds are unfortunately ripe with crass language. And I'm fairly certain, although I've never asked, that even my 11-year-old knows which word is being bleeped out when she hears Macklamore's "Thrift Shop" on the radio.
So do I wish, as a mom, that the students could come up with something a little less boorish to chant during Badger games? Absolutely. But less because I am horrified by the idea of my kids hearing two of the "Seven Words", according to George Carlin, "You Can Never Say on Television" out in public.
My disappointment with the chant lies more in what the lobbing back and forth of profanities across Camp Randall says about those who are doing the lobbing. My oldest is on the brink of heading off to college, the place I have promised will broaden his horizons. And I'm pretty sure both the yelling of meaningless expletives, and hearing others yell them back at you, doesn't really broaden anything.
No, I don't have much background on history behind the "Eat Shit, Fuck You" (yikes, I said it) cheer. But from an outsider's perspective it does not appear to be clever, poetic or used to advance any particular agenda. I guess my hope is that when my kids are sitting in the stands as students some day, they will use this as a chance not just to get a little rowdy, but also to get a little creative.
In the meantime though, I'll just remind the kids that they can't control what comes out of others people's mouths. But that they certainly can control what comes out of theirs.
And I'd prefer it not be the current chant. They can do better.