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Columbia Reverses Ban on Marching Band for Mocking Its 0-9 Football Team

Columbia University’s band can play on after all.

The Ivy League school’s marching band will be allowed to perform during the football team’s home finale against Brown University tomorrow after initially being barred for mocking its own 0-9 team, Columbia’s athletic department said.

“We have reconsidered our decision,” Columbia athletic director Dianne Murphy said in an e-mailed statement. “The core free-speech values of the university are best served by providing a forum both for speech that might sometimes offend -- as well as for the kind of open discussion that ultimately leads to greater understanding and collegiality among all members of our community.”

Following a 62-41 loss to Cornell University on Nov. 12 in Ithaca, New York, Columbia’s band, which routinely plays and sings the school fight song, “Roar, Lion, Roar,” after games, changed the lyrics to poke fun at the winless squad, according to the school.

The new lyrics were “something to the effect of, ‘Why do we even try, we always lose,’” according to a statement from New York City-based Columbia.

When originally banning the band from performing in tomorrow’s game, Murphy said the players, coaches, alumni and parents were “extremely hurt” by the lyrics and that the band showed “disrespect for the feelings and efforts of their classmates.”

The Lions went 4-6 in each of the past two seasons, 2-8 in 2008 and 1-9 in 2007. Their last non-losing season was 2006, when they went 5-5.

Brown is 7-2 this season, including a 4-2 record in the Ivy League.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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