In an effort to be more “inclusive,” the University of Mississippi’s marching band will no longer play any version of the song Dixie at football games. The decision came from the university’s athletic department. On Friday, athletic director Ross Bjork released a statement about the change.
From The Clarion Ledger:
The newly expanded and renovated Vaught-Hemingway stadium will further highlight our best traditions and create news ones and that give the Ole Miss Rebels the best home field advantage in college football,” Bjork said. “Because the Pride of the South is such a large part of our overall experience and tradition, the Athletics Department asked them to create a new and modern pregame show that does not include Dixie and is more inclusive for all fans.
Bjork referenced the fan experience at Vaught-Hemingway stadium as a key reason for the reboot.
From Mississippi Today:
“It’s a fan friendly environment on game day in that we are inclusive,” Bjork said. “That should include our words, actions and pageantry. And music also goes into that.”
The songs “Dixie,” “Dixie fanfare,” and a pregame arrangement containing themes of “Dixie” will no longer be played by the band, known as The Pride of the South. Band directors, who chose not to provide comment for this story, were made aware of the Athletics Department’s decision over the summer.
The move comes after at least a year of coordinated efforts to limit the playing of the song.
During games in the 2015 football season and the 2015-2016 basketball season, the band did not play the song. Before all seven home games last season, the song was played 14 times – in the pregame Grove concert and on the field before the games kicked off.
Once again, an administration is hunting for good press at the cost of tradition. For cutting Dixie, which has long been considered the anthem of the Confederate States during the Civil War, Ole Miss can pat itself on the back for being progressive. Who cares about the fact that the band has been playing it since the 1940s, making it one of the school’s longest standing traditions during competitive sports? School and national history be damned, it’s time to make football more welcoming.
Much like Colonel Reb in 2010, Dixie has become a trophy kill for a college looking to publicly glorify itself. For fans, it’s another beloved tradition gone. Moving forward, the only real question appears to be “what’s going away next?”.