"U-S-A!" is a chant of the United States of America's initials popular in expressing American pride and supporting American national sports teams. The chant was documented at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, during the basketball tournament final between the United States and the Soviet Union, but was popularized after being yelled by fans during the 1980 Winter Olympics, held in Lake Placid, New York, where the U.S. men's ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in what became known as the "Miracle on Ice", later moving on to beat Finland for the gold medal. The origin of the cheer is unknown, although there are reports which pre-date the 1972 Olympics. It was chanted during the finals of the 1500 meter event and the long jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics and can be heard in Leni Riefenstahl's Festival of Nations documentary.
The chant can be used in other community events, such as at political rallies.
Use in sports
During the U.S.'s 7–3 win over Czechoslovakia in the 1980 Winter Olympic tournament's second game, Sandy MacDonald and David Claiborne began chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" in support of the American hockey team as the Americans scored a decisive win over one of the best teams in the world. The chant became a fixture of the team's remaining games and gained national attention during the famous "Miracle on Ice" game against the Soviet Union. Since that time, American sports fans have spontaneously chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!" at many international events, and during times of patriotic fervor. Interestingly, it was Sandy MacDonald's idea to start the chant and Mr. MacDonald was born and raised in Canada.
In professional wrestling, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was popularly known for making the cheer during his wrestling matches and inciting the crowd to repeat it after him. The chant has also been used by fans to taunt characters who dislike America, such as Canadian star Bret Hart, who was beloved in the United States but turned his back on the country during an infamous 1997 storyline. It has also been used to support wrestlers with pro-American gimmicks, like Hulk Hogan, regardless of the nationality of their opponents. A six-man tag match in 2003 on WWE SmackDown! featuring Hogan (as "Mr. America"), Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin in Madison Square Garden had the crowd performing the chant in support of Hogan's team despite the fact all six wrestlers were Americans and none had an anti-American gimmick.
The chant is currently being used to taunt Rusev, a Bulgarian WWE Superstar who previously had a Russophillic gimmick where he and his former manager Lana would continuously bash the U.S.A. during their promos. The chant, only heard at WWE events held in the United States, is nowadays constantly heard whenever Rusev appears, whether it be during a match or while he is cutting a promo alongside his current manager Summer Rae.
On July 10, 2015, Taylor Swift brought the Women's World Cup champion U.S. team out on stage during a concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, prompting the stadium to start a U-S-A chant.
Post 9/11 usage
The 9/11 attacks found a revival in the chant during patriotic ceremonies at sporting events; the chant was also heard when U.S. President George W. Bush visited the ruins at the World Trade Center site in the week following the 2001 attacks. The chant at the ruins was started by North Hudson Firefighter Thomas Irving, who was there for clean-up along with many other first-responders. Crowds gathered outside of the White House on May 1, 2011 could be heard chanting "U-S-A!" after President Barack Obama announced that al-Qaeda co-founder Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces in Pakistan. The cheer was also chanted that Sunday evening at the only MLB baseball game being held while the news was breaking, between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets. At the 2011 WWE Extreme Rules event in Tampa, Florida on the same date, the arena erupted in U-S-A chants as the death of Osama bin Laden was announced by then WWE Champion, John Cena.
The "U-S-A" chant has been adopted by English football supporters during matches against Manchester United, who have American owners unpopular with the club's supporters due to the club's being saddled by massive debt. Opposing supporters remind the United supporters of this with the "U-S-A" chant; this was also true of Liverpool, until the RBS takeover. However, the chant is also used non-sarcastically by British supporters to celebrate achievements of American players such as Tim Howard at Everton.
The chant, led by Woody Boyd, was used in the Cheers episode "A Fine French Whine" upon hearing the news that a French citizen with eyes on Boyd's girlfriend has overstayed his visa and would soon be deported. It has shown up on The Jerry Springer Show, where it may spontaneously and without apparent reason follow the show's standard cheer of "Jer-ry, Jer-ry!" and is also often delivered by Homer Simpson on The Simpsons as a celebration of almost anything, often accompanied by honking of his car's horn and flashing of its headlights.
- 1972 München Olympic Games, Basketball, USSR - USA, Final, Men - YouTube
- Pitt, William Rivers (2005-03-01). "The Third Stage of American Empire". truthout.org.
- Olympia Part 1 Fest der Völker 1938 with English Subs. The chant "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A" is repeated at the 0:58:53 and 1:01:57 marks
- Vermillion, James. "Their Dark Days: How can you be so Hart-less?". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
- "President Bush Salutes Heroes in New York". 2001-09-14.
- Politico, May 3, 2011.