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Stanford Report, October 15, 1997

Band punished for mocking Notre Dame: 10/97

'Tasteless performance' earns ban for Band

The Stanford Band has been prohibited from performing at football games against the University of Notre Dame until 2000 in the wake of shows at an Oct. 4 intercollegiate match that have been blasted as racist and insulting.

Irish and Catholic groups criticized the maverick band's pre-game and half-time performances, which included a parody of the Irish potato famine and a band member dressed as a Catholic cardinal.

President Gerhard Casper offered Stanford's apologies to Notre Dame. Athletic Director Ted Leland said in a statement issued Oct. 6: "I apologize for the tasteless performance by the Stanford Band at last Saturday's football game with Notre Dame. In their sophomoric attempt at humor, the band crossed the line from funny to obnoxious and offensive."

But band members say that their halftime show, titled, "These Irish, Why Must They Fight?" was misinterpreted, partly because of an unclear fieldshow script. "For this, we apologize," the band said in a long statement posted on its web page. "Its misinterpretation as an assault on the Irish seems obvious in retrospect, but did not occur to any of our censors. We erred in judgment, and we apologize."

The band also said that claims that the scrips referred to the Irish as "stinkin' drunks" were false.

The statement said that the concept behind the show was not to insult Irish people but to ridicule Notre Dame's leprechaun mascot, which the band called racist. "We think it absurd that Notre Dame can claim a whole ethnicity as its mascot, and further characterize this ethnicity as belligerent: the Fighting Irish," the statement read. "Further, to represent the Irish, Notre Dame uses a leprechaun. Most Irish people we know are not, in fact, leprechauns."

The Athletic Department also said it would "revamp its standing procedure to review Band scripts." It had apparently approved the Oct. 4 script, which led to what it later called an "unacceptable show." SR