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USC-UCLA Rivalry Week: Should sword-stabbing tradition be banned?

November 16, 2012 | 11:35 am

The UCLA-USC rivalry continued to heat up Thursday night with each school's traditional pre-game rallies before the teams kick off at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

But one tradition has been a sticking point for UCLA: At the school's request, the sword-carrying drum major of the USC marching band will not stab the logo at midfield in during its pre-game performance. The Bruins informed the Trojans that if their drum major planted the sword in the Rose Bowl turf before the game, the band would ban them from marching at halftime.

Talk back LAUSC agreed to the request, but fans have continued to seethe since the decision. The tradition has been contentious for UCLA fans in recent years, and they were angered when a clip of it was included in a Pac-12 promotional video a year ago.

Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke wrote Wednesday he's shocked other schools allow the tradition, which he sees as bad sportsmanship regardless of the act's intent:

And that should be the end of it, right? Of course not. Is there ever an end to anything in this game? Since news of the request broke, fans from both teams have quietly seethed. Joe Bruin wonders how the Trojans would like it if a bear mascot did his business at midfield at the Coliseum, and Tommy Trojan thinks the Bruins are babies who should be more concerned about winning the game.

I'm quite sure that when the drum major steps onto the UCLA logo Saturday, we'll see a stabbing motion occurring throughout the USC cheering section as fans shout and boo and get all lathered up over something that is completely avoidable and has nothing to do with football. The only thing all of this proves, of course, is that the stabbing tradition should never have been allowed to take place outside of the Coliseum in the first place.


The one thing that appears beyond debate is that defacing another team's midfield logo is never perceived as good sportsmanship on any level, no matter why it is done. After recent incidents in the parking lot and on the field — remember Pete Carroll versus Rick Neuheisel? — this game is in desperate need of some good sportsmanship.

Good for UCLA officials to demand it. Good for USC officials to accept it. As for the fans, chill out. For three hours Saturday there will enough sticking to satisfy everyone.

Extra security will be on hand for Saturday's game, officials said. Two men were stabbed during a brawl in a parking lot during the teams' last match-up at the Rose Bowl in 2010.

What do you think of the ban on the Trojan tradition? Is it bad sportsmanship or should the Bruins lighten up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or by tweeting @LANOW.


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-- Samantha Schaefer