College football is a sport built on tradition.
Penn State’s “White Out” games, Iowa’s “Wave” to the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, “Enter Sandman” at Virginia Tech, tailgating at The Grove in Oxford, sailgating in Knoxville or Seattle, schools having wild animals run onto the field like a buffalo in Boulder or a steer in Austin or a freaking (caged, but still) tiger in Baton Rouge, losing at Nebraska, and so on.
Wisconsin is no different than any other school in terms of having traditions. I just happen to think it has the best, ever since a 1998 game against Purdue.
The first Wisconsin football game I attended as an undergrad was on Sept. 6, 2003, against the mighty Akron Zips. I, unlike some of my friends, had already attended a Badger game and knew that at the end of the third quarter something really fun was going to happen. I was finally going to get to Jump Around in the student section! The third quarter ended and I was jacked up and then ... nothing.
The House of Pain classic did not come screaming through the speakers. Everyone kind of looked around at each other and then all of the sudden the fourth quarter was starting! There were chants of “Fuck the sound guy!” and large swaths of students sat down during play. This moment was even listed as one of the worst moments of the 2000s in ALL Wisconsin sports by the LaCrosse Tribune. Wisconsin, despite beating defending national champ and undefeated Ohio State later in the season, went 7–6 and lost to Auburn in the Music City Bowl. I think we all know why.
Needless to say, Jump Around is important to Wisconsin fans and now the program is happy to celebrate its 20th birthday.
I don’t know if it helps the players block, run, pass, or tackle better in the fourth quarter, but I can’t imagine seeing nearly 80,000 people jump and rap in unison to a song that came out well before they were born hurts.
Upon further review of the Badger games I’ve attended over the years, I’ve “jumped around” in Pasadena, Minneapolis, State College (although this was well before the game and I was jumping around to dodge the footballs being drilled at my head by my buddy’s friends at their tailgate), and Arlington. It is a tradition that everyone who cares even a little about college football knows and it is an instant bonding experience with a Badger fan when you meet them outside of Madison.
Now that I am an old person who only attends one game a year but still tries to drink as much as I did when I was 20, I just put my hands in the air and bend my knees during Jump Around because if I tried to jump I’d literally shatter both my ankles. It still makes me smile, regardless of where I am, every time I hear the first horn blast of the song. “Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin...”