Cowbells are more than artificial noisemakers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2010

In response to last Sunday’s opinion letter about Mississippi State and its cowbell tradition, first let me say that cowbells are currently legal for the first time in 36 years so there is really currently no need for your cowbell confiscation plan.

Why would you take something away that is legal? Secondly, I don’t know if you watched the State vs. Kentucky game, but if you did, you would know how well the State fans did “respecting the bell” and ringing it at the proper times.

Throughout the entire game, the commentators commented on how well the fans were doing obeying the cowbell rules. Thirdly, it would be basically impossible to set up this system you proposed, not just because it would be so expensive, but also because the number of cowbells taken away would be huge. The university would have to hire people just to get them in some kind of order, so that when all of the fans came back to get their bells they would be able to find the correct bell. This whole idea is utterly ridiculous.

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If you aren’t from MSU, you will never fully understand ringing the cowbell; just like if you aren’t a true LSU fan you don’t know how those first four beats of the fight song can give you chills, or if you aren’t from Ole Miss you don’t understand why they will always be the Rebels and never really be the black bears. Every school has its traditions and the cowbell is Mississippi State’s.

Personally, I don’t understand why anyone has a problem with the cowbells. Are they more distracting than LSU fans who can yell so loud it has been known to register as an earthquake? Yes, they do qualify as an “artificial noisemaker,” but the noise from Davis Wade Stadium has never been loud enough with both bells and yelling to register on the Richter scale.

The opposing team’s fans are loud; it’s part of football, always has been and probably always will be. I think that Herm Edwards, an ESPNU college football announcer put it into words nicely when he said, “That’s what the home field advantage is about. It’s not like they play every game at home. They’ve got to go on the road, too. You go on the road, you know what? The other people give you the business; that’s part of it. I love when they ring the cowbells.”

Also, cowbells aren’t just an “artificial noisemaker” for Mississippi State fans; they are something that ties us all together.

For example, last week when sophomore football player, Nick Bell, passed away, that very night at 7:36 (Bell’s number was 36) countless MSU students and fans came together at an impromptu gathering in the Junction and rang their cowbells 36 times in memory of Nick Bell — and it wasn’t just those fans in Starkville — I rang mine in Baton Rouge and so did Mississippi State fans across the county.

The bells mean so much more to State fans than making noise at football games, they represent everything that the Bulldog nation stands for. And for the first time in 36 years, the SEC is recognizing this and giving the fans a chance to show that we can ring the bells responsibly and it took a few games (you have to remember you are dealing with college students), but I think we’ve finally got it down.

Emily Stevens

Vidalia resident and Mississippi State graduate