Band banned as anti-brand

November 21, 2011

As crazy as it sounds, the Columbia University Marching Band was banned from the final football game of the season for taunting its team.

“Band bullies football team.” As crazy as it sounds, the Columbia University Marching Band was banned from the final football game of the season for taunting its own team. The lyrics of the traditional fight song had been changed to, “We always lose, lose, lose; by a lot, and sometimes by a little.”

When the coaching staff heard the song, they complained and the band was barred from attending the last game. The entire purpose of a band is to help support and energize the team and school. This is a clearly visible mechanism of internal branding at work. Something is seriously wrong with the fundamentals of an organization when an internal anti-brand message like this occurs. It isn’t about winning and losing, it is about respect. Even as a joke, it is hard to imagine a constructive purpose of turning against your own team in this manner.

Unfortunately, the lesson that could have been learned by these students was overruled. Dianne Murphy, the athletic director for Columbia reversed the ban citing “free-speech values” of the university. So, I guess the takeaway is that it is okay for band members to bully the football team and the football players to bully the band because there are no consequences.

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