O (Say Can) U (See): Sooner Anthem Controversy

So the big controversy with the Oklahoma football program right now concerns the lyrics to the National Anthem, the song that commemorates our freedom by reminding us of the musical notes we can never hope to achieve. Ironic that when the typical person hits the most inspiring portion of the song –“and the rockets’ red glare …” — it’s at a pitch that only dogs can hear. Man’s best friend must be very patriotic by now.

OU President David Boren has asked fans to discontinue yelling “home of the Sooners” at the end of the anthem, in place of “home of the brave.” Because it’s unpatriotic, or whatever. It’s been a long-standing tradition at Oklahoma for fans to change the last four words of the anthem, and that’s not sitting well with some people. I would think that folks in Stoopsville would have other things to worry about, but this is evidently a big deal.

Mangling the last four words of the National Anthem: Acceptable?

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Before we get to the certainly-not-at-all-insane quotes, it should be noted that “The Star Spangled Banner” was first introduced in a World Series in 1918, and only adopted as the national song in 1931. But people didn’t begin singing it on a regular basis before baseball games until World War II, when nervous owners tried to distract people from the fact that grown men were playing games and getting paid for it while others were dying overseas.

It’s what rich and powerful people have always done when they want the masses to go along with the program: Wrap things in the flag. I’m not sure when it all morphed into singing the song before every sporting event in the country, including dog shows. It’s a monument to poor judgment, in my opinion, and thus very American I suppose:  A song with an impossible one-and-a-half octave range that is set to the tune of an old English drinking ditty. Fail.

But I digress. Let the Oklahoma fans speak.

“(Changing the lyrics is) really out of character for this state,” said Dick Murphy, a combat veteran from Boston, who moved to Norman after retiring from the Army and who buys season tickets for football and men’s and women’s basketball games. “I just feel it’s disrespectful to the flag and to the nation.

“It bugs me.”

Other fans don’t see what the big deal is.

“I’ve never meant it as disrespect,” Chad Edwards said. “It’s simply a show of school spirit. Only prior to an Oklahoma football game do I say ‘Sooners,’ rather than ‘brave.’ Our servicemen are brave and the national anthem is important, but they are just words. Not showing support for the troops is disrespectful, not what we Sooners fans say prior to a game.”

For the record, even though they’ve asked fans to stop yelling ‘home of the Sooners” on the message board, it hasn’t helped.