You might have heard a lot of Arizona Wildcats, their fans and alumni saying “Bear Down” this March madness. Which is weird because what do Wildcats have to do with Bears? It’s not like the Arizona Wildcats are based in a place like Russia (the bear is the nation’s international symbol) or California (which has a bear on the state flag).
We found an explanation. More timely than ever as the Arizona Wildcats take on the San Diego St. Aztecs in a #1 versus #4 match-up in the sweet 16.
From The Tucson Citizen:
The words reach out, nearly 87 years later, an exhortation, an inspiration, from the death bed of former University of Arizona quarterback John Button Salmon.
Those words, a rallying cry for generations, are more prominent than ever, stretching across 75 yards of the new FieldTurf at Arizona Stadium: Bear Down.
No former Wildcats athlete has left a more-permanent mark than Salmon, who, according to legend, gave football coach J.F. “Pop” McKale in 1926 a message for the team after being critically injured in an automobile crash.
“Tell them,” Salmon said, “tell the team to bear down.”
After Salmon died Oct. 18 of that year, McKale relayed the message to the team, igniting an enduring tradition. Bear Down became the name of the Arizona’s first gym. Marching band director Jack Lee wrote the school’s fight song, “Bear Down, Arizona,” now heartily sung by the Wildcats in the locker room after football victories.
And, in a sign of the times, #BearDown is a popular Twitter hashtag for all UA-related topics.
Be sure to read the whole article. Very fascinating stuff. Tragic and sad that the motivational mantra originated from an unfortunate demise; but now it’s even more inspirational and meaningful that the slogan is truly an honorific.
So even though the Arizona Wildcats are a college basketball first school, their main rallying cry stems from a college football tradition. And RichRod is doing more with the football team lately. Bear down!
Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks