Thursday, May 29, 2014

(I Believe That) I Would Change This Sports Chant

Thanks to the glories of online social networking and VPNs, I recently saw this ESPN advertisement for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil:

I appreciate ESPN wants to get Americans excited about the World Cup, but the chant "I believe that we will win!" leaves something to be desired. Not only does it call into question the claim that the U.S. is a leader in creativity, but its potential effect is weakened by the phrase "I believe that". Instead of detailing my thoughts in a three thousand word essay, I will instead simply share three other videos along with a few questions to ponder.

First, what if the refrain in this song by Queen were "I believe that we will rock you"?

It doesn't quite have the same kick, does it?

Second, after the rocking is over, what if the refrain in this other song by Queen were "I believe that we are the champions?

It raises the question of whether they are really the champions, no?

And finally, the ESPN ad sounds more like a daily affirmation than a rousing or intimidating sports chant. But even if that is its purpose, why add "I believe that"? Stuart Smalley didn't:

I could go on, but (I believe that) I will stop here.


  1. It starts slow, but I find it kind of catchy. I'm not going to watch a minute of soccer on purpose, but not because of the chant.

    Here is a more compelling version:

    I initially thought that this chant resulted from the discomfort of liberals and other soccer fan's discomfort with the good old-fashioned U-S-A! chant.

    See, for example, this: .

    Or just google "is chanting usa racist".

    But apparently the "I Believe that We Will Win" chant has martial origins of its own, at the US Naval Academy:

    And while anyone familiar with mental management systems, ,

    will tell you that you have no chance to win if you don't believe you can, that doesn't exactly apply to fans.

    But any fan who actually believes that the US is going to win the World Cup is delusional. Or caught up in a catchy chant.

    1. Interesting to learn about the chant’s history. Thanks for the links. As indicated in the ESPN video and the videos in your links, apparently not everyone shares my opinion of the chant. I still stand by the above points though. Perhaps I should consider a 3000 word essay after all.

      Based on the piece at The Atlantic, it didn’t seem that most of the discomfort some people expressed was with the “U-S-A“ chant itself but in how it was sometimes used. For the purposes of the World Cup, I’d unhesitatingly choose it over “I believe we will win”, though, again, I wouldn’t mind seeing a touch of creativity instead.

      I wouldn’t argue that “believing” has no impact performance. But I also don’t think saying “I believe” is necessary for believing or convincing oneself / others that one believes.

      Anyway, yes, the odds seem rather stacked against the U.S. team in the World Cup. But don’t worry, Pete, I still believe in you.