No matter the origin, it’s a fact that ringing cowbells is an ice hockey tradition. (A tradition that may make you nostalgic for the soothing sounds of the South African vuvuzelas, but a tradition nonetheless.) Other than Christopher Walken on Saturday Night Live, though, nobody ever said “More cowbell!” Unless you’re determined to leave the parents on the opposing team—not to mention your team—with migraines, leave the continuous clank of the cowbell behind.
The Right Way
Due to a change in their conference’s noisemaker policy, Mississippi State University had to create rules for cowbell use at football games. They even have a website dedicated to the topic: www.respectthebell.com. Based on their rules, here’s how you can sensibly celebrate with a cowbell:
- Respect the home ice: If a sign says “no noisemakers” or “no cowbells,” obey it. If other spectators are not following this rule, request assistance from rink management.
- Pre-game: As the game is starting, you can ring it to fire up the team.
- When someone scores: If your team scores, you can ring it.
- Post-game: To celebrate a win, you can ring it a couple times.
The Wrong Way
If you’re a cowbell junkie, try not to:
- Ring it continuously. Shake it a couple times and stop.
- Use it at Mite (8&U) games, where the score is not even recorded. Scoring can be high in cross-ice/half-ice games and rinks are crowded with spectators.
- Ring it during a blowout. It’s poor sportsmanship to continue loudly celebrating every goal—in any manner—when you’re more than, say, four or five goals ahead.
If you’re thinking of getting a cowbell, try the iPhone app instead. Twice the fun, half the clatter.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Kelly Kordes Anton with the Grow the Game Initiative for this story.
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