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Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman

I can’t believe I need to write this but it’s been reported to me there are football fans who despise the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, the band with the disheveled tree as a mascot. The latest of these are OSU fans, who witnessed LSJUMB shenanigans during the Fiesta Bowl. Get over it, Stanford band haters.
If a robber-baron can establish an uppity-academic private university, what’s more appropriate than rich nerdy kids forming a rag-tag, rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s a student run band, mostly funded by albums (13) the band produced.
What’s not to like? Is it their uniforms of fishing hats, ugly ties and swim suits? Their fantastic repertoire of rock songs or is their special brand of irreverence they bring to each performance? You might cry foul if you’re an opponent or at the wrong end of a tasteless putdown but if you’re not, jump on their wagon, which I like to call a bandwagon.
Okay, if you’re a Notre Dame fan and don’t care for a drum major nun with a baton crucifix leading the Stanford band in South Bend or a special halftime show asking why the Irish are always portrayed as fighting, you might not agree with me.  Or if you’re the state of Oregon, you might resent a chainsaw formation chopping up Spotted Owls.  Or if you’re a Brigham Young fan with the announcer referring to marriage as a sacred bond between “a man and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman.” Or if you’re Robert Shapiro and you witness a USC game halftime showing a band member driving a white Bronco with bloody handprints. Or if you’re USC alum Joe Francis and you created “Girls Gone Wild” but the band lists all your other “accomplishments” including alleged “tax evasion and child abuse.” Or if you’re an opponent and you just made a bad mistake giving Stanford the victory and the Stanford band starts playing your theme song at a time when you’re not all that happy, and even worse, playing your theme song better than your own band, then you might be a hater.
Or you could be a hater when the band has yet to do something but you’re afraid they might. Like say, you’re LeBron James and Stanford is coming to the Orange Bowl (in 2010) and you hear they might perform something un-James worthy, something that might trash your rep, muss with your ego… so you get the Orange Bowl committee to make a precautionary ban.
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That sounds ridiculous, right? A celebrity with such clout he stifles freedom of speech when all it amounts to is a college band? You can ban a band just for being irreverent? Check that, just for potentially being irreverent? Does that make these guys the Andy Kaufman of college bands? Maybe so, and if your state’s been insulted, or your alumni been trashed and you think the whole display is just so much snotty-nerdy, rich-kid frivolity, you don’t get it.  You might not even get rock and roll.
This is why I say enjoy the freeness of this band. Even though they’re trashy, irreverent and sometimes tasteless, they represent a pure American freedom like almost no other entity. These are the guys who’ll start the Yahoos, the Intels, the Googles and they’ll be the establishment, yet here they are, gigging the establishment. They tweak themselves now and, more ironically, tweak their future selves. What’s not to like? You go, Tree.

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