I showed up late into the first quarter, a casualty of traffic. I was talking to a friend on the phone before I arrived, but I had to cut the call short because the crowd erupted in a cheer that could only have come from the thrill of a first touchdown. I walked in on the Male side of the stadium to something just short of chaos: small girls, most likely freshmen, in yellow jumpsuits and with purple headbands wove through the mild-mannered, middle-aged alumni.
I made my way to the “proper” half of the stadium. The air was sharp with the pungent smell of alcohol; it was impossible to tell from which part of the crowd the odor came. I walked high into the stands, too wary of entering the raucous crimson mob. There I would be able to watch the game, to soak up the beauty of this tradition.
I pieced together what I had missed through tweets: “Touchdown for Manual, Motley to Dishan Romine. The kick by Prewitt is good, 7-0, Manual with 7:30 remaining in the half.” As I looked at the student section, I saw one boy wearing a candy-cane colored suit and another redheaded boy in a full corduroy suit without his shirt on. The crowd congratulated these men on their attire; the game itself seemed a lesser spectacle to me than the fans.
129th Male-Manual Rivalry Game
Gallery: Images of the Game
Opinion: The View From The Stands
At half time, our mascot ran across the field, waving our flag in the face of the Male Bulldog. He and his partner bulldog knocked over our ram, swinging at him while he was down. The crowd looked on, confused whether or not the fight was staged. The Male crowd erupted in cheers at our mascot’s defeat. The ram quickly ran back to an angry student section ready to beat Male.
But in spite of this, perhaps we’re no better than them (except maybe for that part when we won the barrel back, 23-14). Isn’t one of our favorite cheers a euphemistic death threat to the bulldogs?
That’s not even the oddest thing we do. Think about it: our fourth day of spirit week, Doomsday, is a day in which we begin our morning with the burial of a deceased house pet. When I was explaining this tradition to a friend of mine, she was in shock. “You bury a dog?”
And yet this still isn’t the most ridiculous thing that happened during this year’s Red/White Week. On the Facebook group “Louisville Male Bulldogs vs Manual Crimsons Football Game,” a mass comment war erupted between the two sides and went on for hours. Low blows were thrown left and right—some posts simply proclaimed one school’s dominance over the other, but some even threatened fights, though the threats appeared to be empty. The worst part was the grammar: “manual boutta smash.!~” one student boasted. Another post read, “a yall dont let these manual kids distract yall from the game saturday. cuz all they tryin to do is mess with yall heads.”
I understand being competitive to an extent, but this was beyond a spectacle—this was madness.
Call it being a senior, call it being a Manual student, but there is more to this game than winning a barrel. It’s more than just sitting around at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon screaming, “That’s how we do it at duPont!” It’s about the reputation, the idea that there is some sense of “better” that we can attain by winning the football game.
We’ll all buy into it, as we do every year, and as we’ve been doing since 1893, since my grandfather walked the halls of Louisville Male—because as Thomas Chapman (12) so memorably reminded us, it all comes down to one thing: “Beat Male!”
Charley Nold is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of Manual RedEye. He is also the Managing Editor for the Crimson Yearbook, a Life Scout, and Vice President of the duPont Manual Student YMCA. He Plans to Study Web Media and Political Science at Western Kentucky University.