Saturday, September 22, 2007

SPEAR THE TURTLE!, or "Hey Kids! Get your face on ABC next Saturday."

Do you have your sign ready yet for next week's game versus the Maryland Terrapins on real television, the kind that every American can pick up with just rabbit ears and no cable or satellite fees? Are you prepared to receive that excited call from Grandma next Sunday saying, "I saw you on the Tee Vee yesterday!"?

Tip #1: Appeal to the network's vanity and need for constant self-promotion. TV networks love to take pictures of their own name or logo while the announcers are entertaining the couch potatoes at home by talking about the steak dinner they ate the night before or the key touchdown they scored in 1975. The picture below shows how a student waiting outside R house last November 9 appealed to the cameramen of ESPN while cheering Rutgers and commenting on a movie that had just appeared in the theaters.

For next Saturday, think of phrases that begin with the letters A, B, and C, and say something about the Knights or the Terrapins.
Always Be
is our free suggestion, but I'm sure it's not the best. You can do much better.

Tip #2: Watch Your Grammar! You, by sitting in the stands at Rutgers Stadium and wearing scarlet, are -- whether you are a student, alumni, faculty member or not-- representing one of the oldest colleges (1766) and the oldest football program (1869) in the nation. Again, please note the sample from last year's Louisville game up above. Note the properly placed apostrophe in "it's"; a small thing maybe, but the writer of this poster would look like an idiot if it weren't there. I was behind a ten-year-old poster waver at the Norfolk State game with a sign that read, "Your in R House." What? That doesn't make any sense at all. Is it possible he meant "You're in R House"?

Tip #3: Watch Your Language? You want to be rude? Be rude. The Maryland Terrapins have much thicker skins (or shells) and freer tongues than the Naval Academy fans, as shown by this great article and legal opinion, "Fan Profanity" by Howard W. Wasserman, at, which uses as a starting point the famous "F*ck Duke" chants and t-shirts at Maryland in 2004. Read the whole article if you're interested, especially about the way that PUBLIC universities are freer spaces than private schools, but here's a key concluding paragraph:

The grandstand at the arena or stadium has become the central public forum for cheering speech. Fans are invited to the arena and encouraged to speak, loudly and in however vivid or stark terms, to support, oppose, cheer, jeer, criticize and even taunt teams, players, coaches and officials in that game. Having created this forum for students to express themselves, a public university has ceded control over the manner in which students do so, at least within the parameters of protected speech. Fans must remain free to jeer as well as cheer players and teams and in as blatant or profane a manner as they wish.
So don't necessarily worry about keeping it clean, but keep it grammatical and clever! Remember, you're representing the great university of the State of New Jersey.

Tip #4: Be Original. The people with the Kiss-like painted faces and the "Knights In Schiano's Service" sign in first row of the closed endzone caught my eye last Saturday. Someone dressed as a Knight with the stuffed turtle on a (fake) sword (I doubt if real swords will make it past security) and a "Spear the Turtle!" sign might catch a camera's eye next Saturday.

Tip #5: Be Young. All a cute kid might need is a sign that reads, "Turtle? Tastes Like Chicken," but don't try to get away with it if you're older than about eleven or twelve.

Tip #6: Body Paint. I know that these painted red Knights and their gold Heisman trophy friend (I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of him in his statuette pose) made it onto ESPN at least once during the game last November. Try it yourself.
Tip #7: Go with the classics: "Upstream Red Team," "See Ray Run" or "Beat Visitor."

I'll take and post a few photos of the best signs and fans I see next week.

These off weeks are killers.

I should be at a Rutgers game today!

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