A controversial football student section chant might soon be a thing of the past.
Ohio State student group Block “O,” in collaboration with the Sportsmanship Council, has requested the OSU student section stop using the current cheer after OSU kickoffs.
Traditionally, many students in the section cheer, “O-H-I-O, rip his f—— head off” after OSU kicks the ball.
An email was sent to current season ticket holders Sept. 19 requesting them to join Block “O” in the new cheer, “O-H-I-O, let’s go Bucks!” The email was signed by Jake Bradley, director of football operations for Block “O,” along with Ben Adams, president of the Sportsmanship Council.
“Over the last year, we’ve received an increasing number of complaints from alumni and fans in general,” said Adams, a fourth-year in sport industry. “It’s important to realize that as students, we’re in our own little bubble and we operate on a different filter than the general public.”
The campaign to change the cheer began last year around the start of Big Ten play.
“Last year, we had a social media blast with Block ‘O’ on Facebook and Twitter to try and spread the word by Big Ten play,” Adams said. “The student section started becoming audible on televisions, meaning anyone in their living room can hear it.”
The OSU Marching Band and cheerleaders are also helping with the change by encouraging students to yell out the new cheer.
“Obviously, we don’t want to come across as the ‘fun police’ or anything, but you have to respond to these kinds of things when so many people are involved,” Adams said. “It’s important to keep enthusiasm up by using the band and cheerleaders.”
Tim Jessberger was the marketing director for Block “O” last year. He said in an email the Sportsmanship Council contacted Block “O” last year with complaints from alumni about the cheer.
An online petition was started on the website iPetitions, stating its goal was to stop students from using a chant that is “embarrassing, disrespectful and does not represent The Ohio State University.” As of Thursday night, there were more than 200 signatures out of the goal of 1,000.
Jessberger said Block “O” members felt the section had to get involved in changing the chant.
“The public relations issue that arose was that everyone automatically associates the south stands with Block ‘O,’ and therefore the chant with Block ‘O,’” Jessberger, a third-year in marketing, said. “Our two options were to ignore the chant and (not) publicize the effort to stop it because it isn’t Block ‘O’’s issue, or publicize the efforts, take a brunt of student anger/angst, try to stop it.”
Block “O” went with the second option and started an effort to change the cheer. Jessberger said in response, he said he received “an outrage of profanity and swearing” on Twitter and Facebook from angry students.
As such, he said he does not believe the effort of student groups alone will work.
“Get coach (Urban) Meyer to make a video and send it to all of the students. Mention the chant directly. Better yet, get former President (E. Gordon) Gee to make a cameo with him in the video,” Jessberger said. “Student organizations cannot feasibly expect to be held accountable for all 17,000-plus students that sit in the south stands.”
A video was released Thursday from the OSU Buckeyes YouTube account showing Meyer praising the students for their enthusiasm and requesting that students use “appropriate language.”
Bradley, a fourth-year in public affairs and geography, said he thinks the change can be successful but will not happen right away.
“It all comes down to the student body and student leadership. I’ve been reaching out to multiple student organizations and their leaders to spread the word,” Bradley said. “It won’t happen overnight, but we’ve been looking to fix it by Wisconsin.”
Florida A&M was the first game of this season when the effort to change the cheer went into place, including messages on Ohio Stadium’s screens advertising the more appropriate chant. During the game, which ended in an OSU 76-0 win, there were many opportunities to see whether or not the effort to change the cheer was effective, Bradley said.
“I would say around 90 percent of people in our Block ‘O’ sections participated in the new cheer,” Bradley said. “However, outside of that, the rest of the students kind of sounded like a jumbled mess between the two.”
Krissy Duly, a third-year in pharmaceutical sciences, said she participated in the new cheer and noticed the old cheer was a bit quieter.
“Ohio State is known for its fervent support of its athletic teams, and that cheer is not a good representation of that,” Duly said. “I want everyone to be on the same page and cheer as a cohesive unit.”
Katie Weimerskirch, a fourth-year in human development and family sciences, said she thinks the cheer should stay the same.
“I don’t have a problem with the current cheer,” Weimerskirch said. “It’s been the cheer since I’ve been here, so it’s a tradition.”