"Boomer Sooner" is the fight song for the University of Oklahoma (OU). The lyrics were written in 1905 by Arthur M. Alden, an OU student and son of a local jeweler in Norman. The tune is taken from "Boola Boola", the fight song of Yale University (which was itself borrowed from an 1898 song called "La Hoola Boola" by Robert Allen (Bob) Cole and Billy Johnson). A year later, an additional section was appended, borrowed from the University of North Carolina's "I'm a Tar Heel Born".
Origin of the lyrics
The phrase "Boomer Sooner" refers to the Land Run of 1889, in which the land around the modern university was settled. Boomers were people who campaigned for the lands to be opened (or tried to enter the lands) before passage of the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889. Sooners were land thieves who settled before the lands were officially opened, giving them an unfair advantage on finding, fencing, and claiming farm land. If the charge of early entry was proven, they would lose their claimed land.
The OU marching band plays the fight song when the team takes the field and when the team scores a touchdown, a field goal, or makes a big play. They also play it along with other fight songs while the Oklahoma defense is on the field to encourage the crowd to get loud. Some fans have informally counted it being played between 70 and 90 times a game.
The day "The Pride" won
On October 15, 1983 the University of Oklahoma football team visited Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Sooner squad played poorly at first, and within 10 minutes Oklahoma State was winning by a score of 20-3. A policeman escorted Gene Thrailkill, the Oklahoma band director, off the field for not having a sideline pass. Before he was forced to leave, Thrailkill shouted to the band members, "I want you to start playing and don't stop 'til the team's ahead!" The band complied, and played "Boomer Sooner" non-stop roughly 300 times. The team responded by scoring 15 unanswered points against Oklahoma State. After an OSU fumble with 1:17 left in the game, Oklahoma scored a field goal to win 21-20. OU coach Barry Switzer awarded the game ball to the band (known as "The Pride of Oklahoma") for the non-stop effort and labeled it "The Day The Pride Won".
In popular culture
- Diane Scarponi, "'Boola Boola': Yale's fight song marks 100th anniversary", Associated Press in South Coast Today, November 19, 2000.
- Jake Trotter, I Love Oklahoma/I Hate Texas (Triumph Books, 2012), ISBN 978-1623680411. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- David W. Levy, The University of Oklahoma: A History (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), ISBN 978-0806137032, p. 143. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- "Fight Songs". SooonerSports.com. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
- "Official Athletics Site of the Oklahoma Sooners - Traditions". SoonerSports.com. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
- Doug Ward, "Pilgrimage: Sooner and later (continued), ESPN.com, October 14, 2010.
- Cooter, Terri (2004). 100 Years of Pride 1904-2004, A Documented History of the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band. Norman: Terri Cooter. pp. 173–175.
- Ray Dozier, The Oklahoma Football Encyclopedia (Sports Publishing LLC, 2006), ISBN 978-1582616995, pp. 291-292. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Mike Hlas, "Interview: Jim “J.R.” Ross of the WWE talks Oklahoma Sooners football", The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), December 21, 2011.