Fight On, Fight Off 

We attended our cousin’s high school graduation in Texas the other night—virtually, of course. It was quite a sight as her class of 623, all masked and socially distant, paraded through a football stadium and were issued their diplomas in a ceremony that went on all evening. I suggested to her parents that it might have been quicker to just give a souvenir to everyone who wasn’t graduating, but that was just me being a troublemaker. 

Our cousin was the class’s salutatorian and gave an inspiring speech to her 622 classmates. We were home watching it all on TV, so she didn’t have to worry about me embarrassing her on her big night. It’s enough that she has to endure the dual burden of being both brilliant and beautiful. 

 My own graduating class had 90 members back in 1958. It was described as an “experimental school,” which helps explain how I somehow got a diploma despite never having passed algebra, geometry, chemistry or anything else else considered useful then or now. But that’s another story. 

Meanwhile, in Texas, hey closed the ceremony with a climactic playing of the school’s new fight song. For many years it had been “Dixie,” a song with a troubled portfolio, and the school’s students and faculty had the good sense to get rid of it and commission a new fight song without the baggage. The performance of the new song triggered a response in me, but not the one you might expect. 

I graduated from University High School in Bloomington, Indiana. Our fight song used the melody of the Ohio State song, a place that certainly knows something about fighting. For the Univees, the lyric became: 

Okay, cool, I still remember it, but… 

Following the class of 1972’s graduation, there was no more University High School. It was deleted, terminated, obliterated. It’s passed on! It is no more! 

It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace, pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are cancelled. It's shuffled off its mortal coil It’s an EX-SCHOOL. It's moved to the other side of town, and its name changed to Bloomington High School North, which just further underscores the fact that it has legally ceased to exist. 

So obviously I had to rewrite the lyrics, beginning with the first line: “University, let’s win that old ball game tonight…” 

Of course there will be no ball game tonight, or any other night for that matter, since U-School had evolved to a plane of non-existence and joined the bleeding choir invisible. 

“We’ll cheer you on to victory and make them fear the red and white…” 

Putting aside the moral dilemma of whether it is an entirely appropriate goal to seek to instill fear in the general public of two innocent ordinary colors, it was felt that in any case, there was little likelihood of achieving such a goal. 

“UHS, we know you can win…” 

Well, we know nothing of the sort anymore, do we? 

And we didn’t then, either. If the lyric had read “UHS, we know you might at least look good and perhaps surpass expectations,” it might have been a more accurate statement. 

“And we’ll back those Univee men…” 

Clearly, a relic from a different and clearly sexist era. 

So a decision was made to rewrite the lyrics in toto. However, Toto happened to be on tour in Japan at the time, and therefore unavailable, so the task was handed to a nameless, blameless and shameless alumnus from the class of 1958, commonly know as, well, me. 

The lyrics were problematic enough, but the music also had to be rethought. If not, I might expect receive a letter from a legal firm representing a nearby Big Ten school, albeit a mediocre one, asserting: 

“This musical material has been found to be substantially plagiarized from the well-known song generally known and associated with The Ohio State University. Any further attempts to denigrate and besmirch this composition by associating it with a secondary school, and a non-existent one at that, will result in swift and brutal litigation.” 

Eventually, after more work than I ever did while in high school, I was able to fashion a brand new, unassailable fight song for NOW—up-to-date, yet nostalgic; a song with a great sense of joie de merde, with an infectious ailment that all could share. 

Here are the words of my fight song: 


University, you no longer need to win that old ball game. 

We no longer fight for the red and white, 'cause tonight it’s not the same. 

There is no more Jordannus, the jazz club is defunct. 

The faculty can’t remember whom they passed and who they flunked. 

The building may be standing down where Jordan crosses Third, 

but there are no pants up the flagpole, 

and “eat a big one”’s never heard. 


The Univee is history, we’re stiffer than geology, 

but alma mater mortis, you will always be “U” to me. 

They have emptied out all our lockers now and cleaned up all our messes. 

The rec room’s lost its rectum, the Quad has stopped the presses. 

The study hall is finally silent, but no books are being read. 

There’s no interest in the principal and driver’s ed is dead. 

The cafeteria’s empty and the Chatterbox is gone, 

so a lot of salmonella must go somewhere else to spawn. 

The Univee is history, we’re flatter than geography, 

but alma mater mortis, you will always be “U” to me. 

The Univee is history, we’re guinea pig biology, 

but alma mater mortis, you will always be “U” to me, see? 

Alma mater mortis, you will always be “U” to me. 

I recorded a version of it, performed by the “All Univee Alumni Marching  Band,” so-called because I played all the parts, and I officially remain an alumnus. If you feel courageous, feel free to sing along with the track below…

But you can disregard those other options at the bottom. That's just junk my web provider insists on adding for its own reasons. I haven't figured out how to make them go away.