With the first full weekend of college football now in the books, I can say that my ears have become well-accustomed once again to certain sounds. No, I am not talking about the roar of the crowd, the collision of big hits, or the tunes of the band. Rather, I am talking about the playing of songs such as Sandstorm, Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400”, and Crazy Train. More specifically, I am talking about third down songs…
I hate third down songs.
As a former stadium DJ, I have always held a disdain for programs that use a certain song for each time the down marker has a big number three showing. I prefer playing different, yet appropriate, third down songs throughout the game. I feel this lets you engage the audience more, utilize some of the more powerful song selections for more crucial third downs, and to keep things fresh. I do have a few major reasons on why I strongly discourage against sticking to a third down song:
First, I think third down songs are annoying. No, not just for the visiting team, visiting fans, or television crew…but for the home folks too. Sorry, but hearing Ozzie’s maniacal laugh twenty times a game gets really irritating. Even if your team has a big third down coming up in the fourth quarter by that time the song has played itself out. “Turn Down For What” all of a sudden isn’t as fun anymore.
Like I said above, I made it a point to change the third down song selection when I was the stadium DJ because I felt I could get more out of the fans in doing so. If you have a big, rocking pump up song that means a lot to your fan base, maximize it. Don’t give it to them every single third down through the course of the game. That will lose the impact of the song very quickly. Instead, keep them guessing. Play the kick-ass song on a big third down and inches play in the second half of a close game. When that powerful song hits for the first time in a crucial situation it will energize the crowd and the players in a way that would never occur if you played it frequently. As for other third downs, play rocking selections as well, just make sure to build up and always include a wide variety.
Finally, I HATE third down songs because they can grow to be jokes and symbols for losing. I have to pick on the rival of my former school, Montana State. For every third down in Bozeman they would play “Hells Bells.” I had the opportunity to be on the sideline for the past two Brawl of the Wild football games in Bozeman (Griz-Cat rivalry game) and even when the Griz would be kicking the snot out of the Bobcats, “Hells Bells” would be playing late in the game. It was garbage time, the stadium was half full, and you could hear a collective groan from the Bobcat fans in the seats when the song was played. It totally turned a decent AC/DC song into a mockery. No one was into it. Whenever I hear the song, a melody that was supposed to conjure up a big play for the Bobcats, I just think of Montana State getting their clocks cleaned.
Of course, when it all comes down to it, the stadium experience should be all about the student-athletes. If the football team is dead-set on a third down song then you have to honor their request. But this never happened at Montana and I know it doesn’t happen at many other schools. Most football teams are concentrated on the actual game, not the music being played over the public address system. I caution stadium DJs not to turn the game day experience into an automated bore. Get the fans pumped up for every third down, but do it in a way that will maximize and keep the integrity of the music. Don’t Blink.