Sports chants

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There was a big city-wide party last night here in Philadelphia, but the Philadelphia Orchestra, got on board back in early December:

Since this is Language Log and not Out-of-Control Civic Exhilaration Log, I want to focus on the prosody of the Eagles chant at the end:

It's basically four two-beat units:

  # .   # .   # .    #     .
| E A | G L | E S | Eagles _ |

It works well enough to have been ubiquitous in Philly as long as I've lived here, but I can't think of any other sports chants with the same structure. For example, I don't see any obvious parallels in the various lists of sports chants Out There.

Someday someone should do an inventory of sports chant prosodies.


  1. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 5, 2018 @ 12:52 pm

    With nothing to say about the prosody of sports chants, I'll ask a question about dialect. One of my college roommates, who's from Philadelphia, said the large birds of prey are "eagles" but the football team is the "Iggles". Is that widespread in Philly?

  2. Ian Menzies said,

    February 5, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

    Going through all the chants I can think of, most of them seem to be either four beats or eight beats, including at least a beat of rest or drum/clap. The closest analog to the Eagles chant I can think of is
    J E T S Jets Jets Jets _

    There's also the classic three beats and a rest with such examples as
    M V P _
    Let Them Play _

    Adding a little syncopation gives you
    Warm Up the Bus _
    We Want LeBron _
    (1 beat, 3/4 beat, 1/4 beat, 1 beat, 1 beat rest)

    Then there's
    D Fense (Drum) (Drum)

    And adding in some rest or percussion response seems to be necessary to keep everyone together
    Let's Go Place Name (Clap) (Clap) (Clap)-(Clap)-(Clap)
    (four beats followed by claps of two beats and a triplet)

    30 minutes of thought isn't enough for me to figure out the pattern as to when syncopation is used versus triplets to fit in extra syllables.

  3. J.W. Brewer said,

    February 5, 2018 @ 4:24 pm

    This seems a natural-enough pattern if the team-or-school name is both six letters (no W's!) and two syllables. You'd want to find other candidates that meet those criteria to see if they follow or avoid this pattern? (The mascot of the junior high school I attended from 1977 to 1980 was the tiger and I admittedly have no specific recollection of an 8-beat "T-I-G-E-R-S Tigers" but likewise no recollection of a different approach with different prosody.)

    For the crowd to remain in sync with each other for the duration of two four-beat measures (or four two-beat measures if you prefer?) w/o a pause/clap/drumbeat seems doable although maybe toward the maximum limit of what you can expect without that sort of coordinating cue.

  4. Thomas Rees said,

    February 5, 2018 @ 6:12 pm

    Ian Menzies: I don't think the "Let's go" rhythm involves triplets. It's something like ♩♩♪♪|♩. In other words, the last clap bears the ictus/downbeat (I can't recall ever using that word before!).

  5. Fred Cummins said,

    February 6, 2018 @ 4:24 am

    A larger consideration of the prosody of sports chanting and its relation to chanting in other domains such as rituals and protest can be found at

  6. Rebecca said,

    February 7, 2018 @ 9:56 pm

    Does anyone else have a dirge, like the University of Kansas' "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" chant?

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