Wisconsin Football: More Than a Game

ByABC News
September 30, 2005, 8:53 AM

Sept. 30, 2005 — -- During my brief stint as a sportswriter, I mastered the skill of learning just enough about unfamiliar situations to look like I might know what I was doing. At bowling matches I would throw out a line about oil patterns, at wrestling it was a casual comment about the advantage of starting on top.

In the weeks leading up to my first big college football game (A fact I can only admit now that I am no longer covering sports), I took a few moments away from sweating over the Yankees playoff bid to study up on a few key terms in the University of Wisconsin football glossary.

My efforts seemed to be paying off last Saturday as I sat in Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., among the second-largest crowd in University of Wisconsin football history. Whenever running back Brian Calhoun touched the ball, I joined in the resounding "Hooooon" cheers, and was sure to mention several times how upset I was that Wisconsin alum Ron Dayne no longer played for the New York Giants.

Then the third quarter ended.

Suddenly I was the only person in all of Wisconsin not jumping around like an angry piece of popcorn. Everyone around me -- students, senior citizens, band members with huge drums strapped to their bellies, players from the opposing team -- were jumping up and down, with their arms at their side as House of Pain's "Jump Around" blasted over the loudspeakers.

All I could do was stand there, dumbfounded, searching for the giant sign flashing, "Hey everybody get up and jump!" that I had apparently missed.

"That's one of the big traditions that's not all that old," Justin Doherty, Wisconsin's director of athletic communication and author of "Tales from the Wisconsin Badgers," explained in the days after the game. "It was during a 1998 night game against Purdue and our marketing guys in charge of the sound played it. Now we're known for it."