One of Iowa's football foes is rowing a boat

What do oars have to do with the Western Michigan Broncos?

Published: July 30 2013 | 1:28 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 6:25 pm in

As a rule, I dislike motivational slogans in sports. If I were a coach, I'd offer this one: "Score More Points Than Them!"

But I really don't like slogans that require explanations. Western Michigan's football team, which plays at Iowa on Sept. 21, has a slogan that needs a translator.

"Row the Boat."

What, was "Walk the Dog" already taken?

The Broncos  have a new head coach in 32-year-old P.J. Fleck, who is off to a great start recruiting. He's also off to a great start putting "Row the Boat" everywhere in landlocked Kalamazoo.

“Row The Boat is a method of how our whole program will fit together,” Fleck said in May. “It’s also a saying that has such a simple meaning, but there’s so much behind it in terms of a way for the whole community, the whole faculty, administration, players and student body can rally behind something greater than itself.

“I had ‘Row the Boat’ a long time ago, but I never brought it out. It’s very simple when you break it down. There are three parts to rowing the boat. There is the oar, which is the energy behind rowing the boat. There is boat, which is the actual sacrifice, either our team or the administration or the boosters or the audience or whoever is willing to sacrifice for this program. There is also the compass. Every single person that comes in contact with our football program, fans or not, they are all going for one common goal and that is success.”

As this SBNation.com post illustrates, Fleck has wooden, boat-shaped business cards. He has helmet stickers of oars for his players. He created a "Row the Boat" dance.

I'm a little creeped out by this.

"I want an oar in every school, every hospital, every bakery and everywhere," Fleck said. "Not that the oar says, ‘Hey, that’s a Western Michigan Bronco.’ No, it’s a symbol behind the logo of our program so that when people see the oar they know what it means and they know what our football program is about. It has no tie to being an actual bronco, but it doesn’t have to."

Well, no one in Iowa should get too smug or snarky when it comes to Western Michigan. The Broncos are 2-0 against Iowa, having won there in 2000 and 2007. Plus, the Hawkeyes lost at home last year to another Mid-American Conference club from Michigan, the Chippewas of Central Michigan.

But still, "Row the Boat?" What, was "Kick the Can" already taken?

UPDATE: The plot thickens. Check out this tweet Fleck posted Tuesday night. And look at this video. Walking on shards of glass? Walking on burning coals? Is this a football team or a cult? Not that there's always a difference


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