It’s not exactly “Eye of the Tiger.”
In sports, teams often emerge from their locker room and onto the field of play as music designed to pump up the crowd and motivate the players plays. Songs like “Enter Sandman,” “Eye of the Tiger,” “Crazy Train” and “Hell’s Bells” have almost become synonymous with some athletes.
But the lacrosse team for Adelphi University, a small school in Long Island, New York, used something far different to psych themselves up before taking the field: a speech by President Donald Trump, complete with his famous campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
In video obtained and posted to Instagram by Barstool Sports, the team is shown gathering as electronic music plays and a clip of Trump speaking is heard.
“In all of our cities and all of our towns, I make this promise. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again,” Trump says.
The team then runs onto the field with one player holding an American flag. The speech ends with the line: “God bless you, and good night. I love you.”
The video has been viewed nearly 950,000 times on Instagram as of Thursday night.
It is unclear before which game the speech was played, but the video was posted Wednesday morning. In a statement, the school’s athletic director defended the choice.
“The men’s lacrosse team’s regular-season pregame warm-up music is selected as a team and approved for use so long as they do not contain vulgarity or inappropriate subject matter,” Adelphi athletic director Danny McCabe told CNN. “The songs they proposed and used this season meet those guidelines. As such, we are obliged to follow the policy.”
The team’s coach, Gordon Purdie, said that playing the speech was not intended as a political statement, and noted that the team has often picked “patriotic songs” in the past, per Newsday.
On social media, the move drew sharply different reactions from supporters and critics of Trump. While some said the clip alone made them supporters of the Panthers, who are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division II Lacrosse tournament, others said it was representative of the lack of diversity in lacrosse.
Lacrosse as a sport has often been associated with upper-class, white demographics, per the New York Times. The most recent data from the NCAA indicates that 86 percent of college players are white, and the stereotype has become so pervasive that it has been noted by ESPN, Forbes and other media outlets.
Moving forward, however, the team will not be able to use the speech again. NCAA rules prohibit teams from playing anything but “neutral music” in tournament play, and the regular season has ended, per Newsday.