When Did ‘USA!’ Chant Start?

Probably not when you thought it did
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2011 12:15 PM CDT
Crowds climb trees and celebrate in Lafayette Park early Monday, May 2, 2011, in front of the White House in Washington after President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Throngs gathered outside the White House on Sunday night to chant, "USA! USA!" after news of Osama bin Laden's death broke. When did that patriotic tradition get started? In Slate's Explainer column, Brian Palmer notes that the popular story—that it began during the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey game—is not true. The chant was most likely born in the mid-1970s.

News reports from 1975 and later describe sports crowds doing the USA chant at events a collegiate swimming competition (the crowd was bugged by the presence of a Canadian team at the mostly US event) and at the 1976 Olympic ice hockey tournament (after we beat Finland's team). Other reports describe similar cheers, like "USA, USA, we don't mess around, hey!" and "USA, all the way." And one commenter informed Slate that a variation on the cheer was recorded at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But the "Miracle on Ice" game certainly cemented its popularity: A Google News archive search shows only nine hits for "chant 'USA USA'" before 1980, and 713 for the decade following.

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |