The Marching Band Reacts to Athletics’ Sanctions

Written by

As Spec, Deadspin, ESPN, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post have recently reported, the Columbia University Marching Band has been banned from performing during the football team’s final game of the season against Brown on Saturday.

Last Saturday at Cornell, football coaches overheard the band performing an alternate version of the fight song that mocked the Columbia team. “We always lose, lose, lose; by a lot and sometimes by a little,” the lyrics read. (The team is 0-9, and gave up 62 points in the Cornell game). Coaches alerted the Athletics department, which soon introduced the sanctions. The ban means that the band is prohibited from bringing their uniforms and instruments to the game, and they won’t be allowed to perform pre-game or halftime shows. Many are upset since the Brown game is traditionally when CUMB and other Columbia spirit groups celebrate the senior members of the football team and band.

While the band has gotten in trouble before (most notably for mocking the priest sex abuse scandal at Fordham in 2001 2002 and the Vietnam War at West Point in the 70s), this is the first time the band has been banned from Columbia’s own stadium. This is also the first time the band has gotten in trouble for singing one of their many alternate versions of the fight song, which a bandie told Spec “are meant only for the band bus and Orgo Night.” The lyrics that offended Athletics were written earlier this year and had been sung at the end of a few football games before they were overheard.

When we contacted Head Manager Jose Delgado about the incident, he only provided the official comment below, adding, “Any future comments will be made after the football game to maintain the focus on our players and classmates”:

The Columbia University Marching Band would like to apologize to the members of our community, in particular to our fellow classmates and coaches, who were offended by the incident that occurred on November 12 at the Columbia vs. Cornell football game. We accept the consequences and look forward to continue to be a part of our school spirit for future athletic events. We are disappointed that we will be unable to perform at Saturday’s football game – the last game for seniors both in the band and on the football team. All season, we have been ardent supporters of the football team, rain or shine. The band will be at Saturday’s game just as we are every week cheering for our Columbia Lions, win or lose. We look forward to supporting our athletic teams for many years in the future.

Spec reported that “many members instead belted an original verse that reflected the losing ways of Lions football.” It is still unclear whether singing the alternative verse was a premeditated decision or whether they’ve gotten any feedback from the football team.

UPDATE: According to Spec, the Athletics department relented and will now let CUMB play at this Saturday’s game against Brown. The band’s managing board released the following statement:

The band is grateful to have been told this evening that the Athletic Department will allow us to attend the football game this Saturday against Brown. We look forward to honoring the senior class – both on the football team and in the band – and cheering the Columbia Lions on to victory.

The band’s Twitter confirms this.

Marching fellow via

Tags: , , , , ,


  1. Anonymous  

    lol why is this school run by frats and sports teams

    • Anonymous  


      - ppl in frats and sports teams

      • Anonymous  

        As a member of both a fraternity and a sports team, that's dead wrong. Only one person I know has supported Joe Paterno and since he grew up in State College he's about as brainwashed as can be.

        Don't hate just because we're better looking and not socially retarded (trolling engaged!)

  2. Anonymous  

    apparently the AD said " the university community is extremely hurt, disappointed and angry."

    which is funny

    because i think she's the only one who feels that way

  3. Alum1

    Did you read the lyrics of the song? It wasn't mocking the players, coaches, or team. It was commenting on the 0-9 record. Who cares what they decided to sing? They go to every football game and most basketball games when non one else even cares. No one goes to a football game at Columbia expecting a win, but they do expect a rowdy band. I think this entire situation is ridiculous and Athletics should get over themselves.

  4. alum

    Fordham scandal was 2002!

  5. Anonymous  

    Now I have absolutely no reason to attend the football game. The band is the best part.

  6. Anonymous

    Altho I do not agree with insulting and mocking your own classmates, the band is a strong supporter of Columbia athletics cheering win or lose, rain or shine. They play their hearts out just as much as the players. They provide free entertainment. The coaches and football team should be embarrasssed by their 0-9 record that they produced themselves, rather than using the band as their scapegoat for their poor performance. Maybe some of the players and coaches should be banned from the last game rather than the band.

  7. Herman Cain

    If only the football team had listened to my plan to have a 9-9-9 record.

  8. why

    did you put up those unanswered questions at the end? pretty blatant example of biased reporting.

  9. Anonymous  

    Shame on the AD.

    They picked the exact wrong battle. How about firing our piece of shit coach so that we don't have a 0-9 record to make fun of?

    I will NEVER donate to anything athletics related.

  10. Anonymous  

    Yes, the band is supposed to support our sports teams and its true they have been there rain or shine, but just showing up does not mean you are supporting them if you are making fun of their record... "commenting on the 0-9" record by saying "we always lose, lose, lose" is most definitely making fun of the players on the team. I'm not sure how you can see any way around that one. If you think the football team is embarrassing what is the halftime show the band puts on? I have spoken to many different types of people regarding the show and I don't think I've heard of one who thought it wasn't embarrassing. The players and the coaches put hours of hard work into what they do every single day and they don't need their own band (who is there to support them and actually cheer for them not against them) mocking them. Regardless of the football record, the band had absolutely no right to make fun of their record especially at an away game.

  11. Columbia football team.  

    'Nuff said, LOL.

    - Columbia University students

  12. Anonymous  

    The band is seriously the biggest joke on campus. Every other school makes fun of our band before the football team's record. Not surprised by the AD's decision. I would have done the same.

  13. Anonymous  

    the band can't march. they exist for the sole purpose of supporting athletics. if they can't do that, why are they here and wearing our colors?

  14. Anonymous  

    This is so minor as far as band incidents. Columbia's band ain't got shit on Stanford's as far as smart-assery goes.

  15. Anonymous  

    That's adorable. In my day, we in the Band made fun of the football team (and everyone else. Equal Time!) in the songs, the pregame show, *and* the halftime show.

    And hey, in those days, the team usually won at least one game per season.

  16. Anonymous  

    The football team should be banned for being offensively bad.

  17. Anonymous  

    Really? If the sports department and players are really that insecure that they want to ban the only enjoyable thing at the games then they need to GROW A PAIR!!!!!!!

  18. Anonymous  

    how about everyone just stop insulting each other, accept what happened since whining about it isn't going to change anything, and move on. It's going to be weird not having the band there and it isn't going to feel the same but we all must deal with the consequences of their actions.

  19. Anonymous  

    None of this would have happened if Spec hadn't gotten involved. Representing many Columbians who are similarly annoyed, FUCK SPEC.

  20. Alum

    It's not too late to reinstate!
    Bring back the band on Saturday.
    - E'81, P'11, P'14

  21. Beee  

    I think Columbia should have a 100% Walk-On football team. That way the guys on the team who are smart would still be here and the guys that aren't would not be wasting space in lecture halls. I consent that there are Football players that can hack it here academically like the rest of us, but those who can't shouldn't be here if the team can't even win a game. They are just taking spots away from kids who would actually thrive here academically. I am sure if Columbia's football team consisted of walk-ons, their losing streak would not be any worse.

  22. hypocrisy 101  

    so... based on the commentary on bwog:

    The entire campus community is entitled to a "safe space" of their own where they are free from ridicule... except for the football team.

    The kingsmen are disrespectful, but the band isn't.

    just checking.

    • Anonymous  

      I don't think joking about rape is the same as joking about a poor sports record. One normalizes a sexual violence, the other ribs fellow members of our community for their poor athletic performance. Likewise, the "safe space" campaign aims to promote acceptance for others' identities. The band never criticized football players for identifying as a football team. They just said that the team performs poorly when playing against other football teams. I mean, I get your point that people here are hyper-sensitive to gender/sexual/identity harassment but openly criticize athletes; I still think that's a really bad analogy.

      • huh?  

        People are pressured to put pink flyers in their windows here, regardless of whether they have any opinion one way or another of gay rights. There are certain ideologies that are allowed on campus, and others that are de facto banned.

        I still don't understand why the band has a *right* to perform at football games, especially if they *dont* fall under the athletics department.

      • so...

        it's ok if I "rib" someone because of their choices of clothing, haircut and speaking style, but not their sexual orientation, right?

      • also

        obviously you've never heard a george carlin routine...
        you can make a joke about ANYTHING.

  23. ...  

    i don't really understand what the problem is here. self-deprecation and mockery of arbitrary student groups are really the one sport that columbia truly excels at. i mean, if virtiolic anonymous blog commenting were added to the olympic summer games, columbia would be pumping out gold medalists by the truckload.

    (ps. that deadspin link with the old coaches' "drug addicted losers" comments is laugh out loud funny)

  24. Anonymous  

    The band is full of drunks who mistake shock value for comedy. Both drinking and irreverent comedy can be done well, but apparently no one in the band has the wit or the class.

  25. Anonymous  

    no one cares about the band.. they should be banned from the game.. athletes work harder than anyone at this school. and ya the football team sucks but thats been the history of the program why should it change now.. this school is in no way run by sports teams and frats, it should be thoough.. thats what college is about.

    • Anonymous  

      correction. smart athletes work harder than anyone at this school

    • Athlete


      1. the band is irreverent, yes, but that's what they're known for! it's expected and general amusement from fans usually occurs. "hey, yeah, we're losing but remember that joke about opponent? hahaha! it's so true!" unfortunately, the band never comes to our competitions : (

      2. athletes do lack respect here. your comment is not really helping. yes, we do have what is basically a unpaid job with shitty hours and a fair amount of scorn from our peers (oh, hi bwog commenters and fellow seas classmate who still hasn't realized I'm an athlete) on top of all our regular classwork, yet we manage.

      3. "why should it change now". not even going to bother to address that. if you're a football player and that's the general attitude I can understand why we're losing games.

      4. this school is definitely not run by sports teams or frats. agreed.

      5. "it should be...that's what college is about". No. if that's what you want out of college then transfer to Yale, Harvard or a state school. Columbia isn't big on sports. as an athlete, I knew that coming in and I still decided to apply ED here. it's partially (maybe 6%) why I decided on Columbia. that being said, I did not expect so much resentment from my non-athletic peers. I'm a student just as much as I'm an athlete. respect me, please.

      /stepping down from soapbox now

  26. Anonymous

    You could donate directly to a team rather than the AD. That way you know where your money is going : )

  27. Anonymous  

    if the football team didn’t represent such a large expenditure of the athletic department’s funds, we wouldn’t be as pissed by their shortcomings (and they are very short comings). but the fact that other athletic programs suffer the bitter consequences when sacrifices are made for the football team makes their failure as a team all the more infuriating.

  28. Anonymous  

    oh well. the best we can do is see this as being damn good joke-fuel for Orgo Night. so pumped

  29. Being

    "pressured" to put pink flyers on your windows must be such an inconvenience, huh? Especially in light of the pressures that gay students have to undergo at less tolerant schools... you're free to have your own opinions on gay rights, just as you're free to be a racist, but open and public discrimination isn't welcome in our campus society.

    And p.s.--making fun of a football team's losing record is in no way, shape, or form discrimination. The football team sucks. I say that about the NFL team I root for all the time. I still root for them.

  30. ele  

    The football team may very well lose every game this year. Sure, our team sucks. Yet, those guys put in hours on hours of work -not just in the fall either, but during the summer break as well. Give them some damn credit. No one wants to sympathize for the football team because nearly all of us are quite unfamiliar with the student-athete experience. Rather, we'd like to operate under the pretense that these are the same "dumb jocks" from HS and relish in their failure. Respect the amount of time these people expend in their pursuits. Imagine if at the end of a dance recital, lab presentation, audition or any time you put your best work forth someone made fun of you coming up short.

    • Band Alum

      I put hours upon hours of time in my undergraduate career into the marching band trying to create performances for my fellow students and the larger community. How do you think I feel when I see "boo the band isn't funny anyway" as a response to this incident?

      • Anonymous  

        I wasn't particularly fond of the decision to punish the band, my comment was more directed at the general attitude of the people on this board. That said, you should walk away from this whole event with some humility. I don't mean that in the sense that the band has some subservient function, not in the least. What I mean by humility is simply this; don't always expect to get the credit you think you deserve. Do you see the women's archery team (an Ivy Championship winning team) complaining that no one is applauding them? You can't hold any self-importance on a campus where everyone is self-important.

        Also, I apologize for sounding like an ass, I mean no offense. Also, I am sorry that you guys aren't able to play for senior day.

  31. i think

    it's hilarious that the band is clearly just trolling this comment board and disliking all the negative comments about themselves

  32. Anonymous  

    Jose Delgado uses "he" and "his" for gender pronouns.

  33. ...  

    "diane? yeah this is john... how are you? good good. so i got a phone call from lee today ... he says that some of your coaching staff banned the marching band from attending the football game this weekend because of that song they did? ... yeah, i'm surprised they'd do it too... anyway. lee says you have to invite them back... yeah... it doesn't matter what they think... he's really adamant about it... he says that this has gotten a lot of media attention and that if you don't invite them back people will make fun of him next month at some first amendment scholars association meeting. yeah... hahaha.. yeah... well you know, maybe he should have thought a little bit harder about that before getting into academic administration... hahahahahahah yeah.. yeah.. anyway... can you get this straightened out? yeah great. ok. thanks... see ya..."

  34. walk-on  

    I may be a little late to this but what the hell

    I'm glad the band was invited back, but I am also glad they were apologetic in their statement.

    A couple comments:

    1. I think people forget that the main reason people participate in intercollegiate athletics is because they love the sport they play. Many (if not most) athletes here don't care much for the status they would perhaps receive at some other institution--after all they chose Columbia. I felt this way as a walk-on to a pretty decent team here. I needed the structure, the exercise routine, the team atmosphere, even just a good reason to get out of the library and do (often very intense) physical activity. But mainly I missed the game I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember. I really struggled to become part of what is a very competitive program, but I don't give a shit about anyones approval, much less CUMB's. So why impart negativity on the athletic programs that exist mainly for the participants who love them?

    2. There is no question that the football team definitely is a large expense, but also there is no way to really know what the team has brought to the community at large. The team is a simple way to keep alumni involved. The fact that a donor can take his/her kids to a game and feel some sort of connection to Columbia (even if they lose) may lead to donations to arts or science initiatives--not just athletics. I you are questioning this phenomenon just look at university in continental Europe. I am not saying this is a total causal relationship, but less culture of intercollegiate athletics in Europe contributes to the lack of school identity and nobody cares enough to give back to the school that at one point gave something to them.

    3. The AD's response definitely did escalate the incident. Now the whole world knows about the poor performance of the football team. But you have to understand that this response was by those in coaching and administration who's professional existence depends on how the team does on the field. Due to the record, this football coach is probably going to lose his job, and to me this is not funny. Why add insult to injury?

    4. I honestly believe that if Baker wasn't so far away people would actually get to games and realize that though underperformance may be true of some of the teams, what your classmates do is certainly not pathetic. People would have more respect for what goes on in Columbia athletics.

    ---A walk-on (so don't tell me I took the place of someone with higher SAT scores)

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.