Sept 8, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs fans ring their cowbells against the Auburn Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Auburn Tigers 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden?USA TODAY Sports

Is the New Cowbell Rule Good for MSU?

I know the initial reaction of a new SEC rule allowing Mississippi State fans more freedom to ring their cowbells is that it’s a great thing. But when you dig deeper into what creates a great atmosphere at Davis Wade Stadium, is it really the case?

The new rule is simple. State fans can clang away all they want except when the Center is over the ball.

Will fans follow this rule? I don’t know. Will MSU get fined this year because of it? Maybe….probably.

I’m more concerned about the effectiveness of the crowd at DWS than anything. Is the ability to ring a bell at games helping or hurting our impact on the game?

I don’t know that there is a clear answer here. I do lean towards it hurting the atmosphere.

I love cowbells, don’t get me wrong. It’s one of the most distinct traditions in all of college athletics. It’s great that we are allowed to bring them in the stadium without fear of it being confiscated (although that was never really a big fear). But I also think it’s used as a crutch by many who bring them in.

There are always a percentage of people who simply don’t care about the rules and will clang all the time no matter what. Then there are those who have partaken in adult beverages to the point they are reckless with the cowbell (guy who slams his bell against the bleacher is included here). I’m not too concerned with these people because they are very few and too hard-headed.

Then there are cowbell ringers who follow the rules. But how many of these folks will stop ringing and start yelling at the appropriate time? My guess is half.

Finally the non-cowbell carrying fans, which represent the largest group in the stadium. These folks are the ones that need to yell. But with the cowbells clanging all around them it’s easy to feel as though their voice will not be heard. Add in the sounds of the video board blaring and it’s easy to understand why folks may feel like there’s no use to yell.

Once the Center gets over the ball, however, the time to yell is right then. If people aren’t yelling while all the cowbells are clanging and video board is blasting noise will they immediately start right then?

Think about how loud that video board is. Then add in the cowbell noise. Once it shuts off it’s almost eerie. Instead of energizing the crowd, too often the big board just entertains the crowd….leaving a partially dead stadium once it’s finished playing. Hopefully that will change with some increased efforts to curb the video board’s antics, but with two of them now I’ll believe it when I see it.

All the fans and especially the non-cowbell carrying ones need to make sure they are yelling despite the efforts of the video board and/or cowbells to dampen their noise level, because once the big board and cowbells stop we’ll need everyone yelling to create a loud stadium. Too often when the artificial noise stops it takes a while to get people’s voices cranked back up and engaged in making noise.

A good mix of yelling and cowbells is needed. Everyone needs to know their voice will be heard. In fact, the directional noise created by yelling is believed to be greater on the field than the cowbell due to the latter being directed towards the sky. Hopefully with a toned-down video board and a heavy emphasis on the noise-maker God gave us, we can have our cake and eat it too – cowbells and one of the loudest stadiums in the SEC during every second of game action.

 

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