Lord Jeff Spirit? Not without a Pep Band ...
By Brian Smith '12
I remember the very first sporting event I attended as an Amherst student. It was 2008, Williams was in town and the Amherst football team was playing in front of a couple thousand spectators in pouring rain. There was something missing, though. No, it wasn’t that the Jeffs lost in a heartbreaker, although that was a small part. It was the lack of a band. Sure, there were a couple students who were playing instruments, but there was no deafening music to get you pumped. There was no Tomahawk Chop or Imperial March or Zombie Nation music coming from the grandstand. Even the school song (which hardly anyone knows anyway) was absent. Needless to say, there was only a minimal amount of school spirit in the stands that day. I’m sure it looked really good on NESN — not.

We have to do something about this. Every sporting event I’ve been to has relied entirely on the team’s performance to get the crowd involved, which isn’t how it should be. On Wednesday night, I went to the women’s soccer game against Mt. Holyoke, and our ladies flat-out dominated. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that, however, as virtually no one was cheering during the big plays. All I heard was fellow students talking about irrelevant things and parents discussing dinner plans and middle school girls talking about boys and whatnot. You know what would’ve been awesome? A band, a mascot and some real school spirit.

What do I mean by “real“? That’s when you walk into the stadium or playing field, see your fellow students in uniform, and realize they’re playing for you. When they put on that uniform, Amherst’s name is written all over it. Their performance reflects the school, and as a fan, this should pump you up like nothing else. Have you ever seen a college football game on national television that doesn’t have fans that are going bonkers? I sincerely doubt it. And you know what gets those Aggies or Cornhuskers or Tar Heels pumped? Playing well is part, sure, but mainly it’s the bands and/or mascots. All these different schools — even Williams — have their own traditions, creating a school spirit that people take with them to their grave. But, alas, it seems like we have none of that here at Amherst.

Well, let me take that back. We have some of that at Amherst. Every once in a while, for a big game, alumni will show up and take their shots at the opposing team’s fans. I once heard some alumni famously scream at a football game, “Hit them! Crush them! Tear them into shreds!” It was very random at the moment, but it was still awesome. But would you hear that from most students? Nope. To be honest, I wouldn’t yell like that either. Why? Because I would be the only one doing it, and I would feel mad awkward being the one guy screaming his lungs out (which I’ve done before). There is a solution for this, however, and by this point you should know what it is. Answer: A BAND.

In my experience, there’s nothing better to get the crowd pumped than a band. Can you imagine a band in Orr Rink or in LeFrak? Oh, how loud that would be! Additionally, there’s just something about having the National Anthem played with a live band instead of a recording played on a radio connected to the sound system. And having the school song played after every goal or touchdown would hype up the crowd as only music can. A band would also synchronize the fans, leading us into particular cheers at appropriate times. Last year at Williams, during the football team’s epic undefeated season, it seemed like our fans couldn’t agree on what chants to start. Indeed, when we did agree, nobody was doing it in sync. Again, I’m sure it looked really good on NESN.

As Amherst students, we should be proud of our accomplishments. It doesn’t take long to figure out that virtually every student here is a genius. So when other teams come to town and see the lack of fan support from the student body, it doesn’t reflect well on us. When we have time to go to a game, we should remember that we’re going to see our school, Amherst College, and we should be proud of that.

I understand there are a variety of reasons why people don’t cheer loudly and proudly at games. I also think we can solve this problem of the lack of school spirit. The Fun Police have the right idea; we need to make as much noise as possible during games. Unfortunately, the Fun Police can only do so much. We need something to complement the success of our athletic teams, and that thing is a band. I honestly don’t understand why we don’t have a band in the first place, especially since it would be so simple to pull off. All we need are some dedicated student musicians (which there seem to be plenty of), a conductor and some sheet music. Pretty simple.

You know what? To prevent this column from being read in vain, I’ll donate my services to this endeavor. If you want a school band, send me an email at bsmith12@amherst.edu. If you want to play in the band, suggest music, have an instrument or want to be a conductor, let me know. I will personally compile this information and make something happen. Until next time, be loud, be proud and be positive.

Issue 03, Submitted 2010-09-22 00:16:42