‘UKnight salute’ force-feeds tradition down our throats
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 16:08
Over the summer, Knights fans witnessed something drastic – maybe even desperate.
I'm talking about UCF Athletic Association's new marketing campaign: UKnight and get "THE PATCH."
The campaign, an all-out effort to gain new fans, new season ticket holders and more butts in the stands on game days, is the brainchild of associate athletic director Joe Hornstein and associate director of fan development Torey Brewer.
"It's been long overdue," Hornstein said. "Everyone seems to be behind what we're about to do, which is to tap into the community for support and fuller stands, fuller arenas, fuller venues."
Hornstein and Brewer are hoping to see two new things this season: fans wearing "THE PATCH" and fans, in unison, performing the UKnight salute.
You've probably seen "THE PATCH" already. It's a fancy little UCF patch on a lanyard. Wearing it not only makes you look awesome but it also gives you sweet discounts at local retailers. "THE PATCH" can be purchased for $10 on or nearby campus.
I'm a big fan of "THE PATCH." Who doesn't like to look awesome and receive discounts? UCFAA has also done a pretty good job of promoting "THE PATCH" by having former UCF players wear it to games and having current players wear "THE PATCH" during athletic events. Seeing their favorite athletes wearing it makes fans want to purchase it.
But I have a gripe with UCFAA's new marketing campaign.
My gripe with the new marketing campaign is not with "THE PATCH."
My gripe with the new marketing campaign is with the UKnight salute.
If you haven't heard of the new UKnight salute, it's UCF's way of having their own "hand motion."
UF has the Gator chomp. FSU has the tomahawk chop. Miami has the U.
Now, we have the UKnight salute: UCF's lame, counterfeit version of the chomp, chop and U.
"Let me paint the picture: It's September 3. You're at the kickoff. Coach O'Leary puts his hands up and does it. The players do it. Then you put your hands in the air and you lock hands with your neighbors and ‘UKnight,'" said Hornstein, a former UM employee. "Now, I don't want to tell fans to do the U. That's confusing. We're not trying to do the Miami U."
During the UKnight salute, fans hold hands and raise them up, "UKnighting" to form a bunch of 'U's.
"You put your arms in the form of a U and you essentially lock arms and ‘UKnight' with the person next to you. It's something for the crowd to interact," Brewer said. "You've got the universities that have their motions with the Seminole chop or the Gator chomp and we really don't have anything to embrace. The only piece that we have is the side-to-side wave."
The UKnight salute reminds me of being in church, holding hands while saying the Our Father and lifting them up towards the end.
I don't know about you, but I'm a little grossed out with holding hands with some grimy, drunk person who can barely stay upright while jumping around during Zombie Nation's Kernkraft 3000. Yes, I realize that not all fans in the stands are grimy, drunk people, but I just don't like holding hands with strangers. Does UCFAA realize how many germs will be spread?! What "THE PATCH" needs is one of those attachable hand sanitizers to hang from the lanyard. It could even have black and gold beads inside.
"I know that as an alumni myself, we're missing certain pieces to create that lifestyle, that tradition," Brewer said. "With tradition you have to stick with it and you have to ride it out, and it all starts with the student body. To get their buy-in is extremely exciting for us."
UCFAA has the right idea in realizing that the Knights need more tradition, but tradition is something that can't be force-fed down fans' throats. The UKnight salute is exactly that — force-feeding tradition down fans' throats. Tradition can't be force-fed; it's something that just happens over the years.
UCF's athletics programs are all fairly new. We're not exactly a traditional powerhouse like Notre Dame. Tradition takes decades to happen.
Knight fans, if you want to establish some sort of tradition at football games, arrive early, cheer loud and don't leave at halftime. As long as the football team keeps winning and fans keep showing up to games, tradition will happen.