Sports & Recreation

Twenty-Five Years of “Jump Around”

The synchronized dance break during Wisconsin football games is a cherished ritual. Here’s why.

The UW Marching band cheers with a crowd of Badger fans in the stands of Camp Randall

UW leaders were once concerned about the physical impact of “Jump Around.” Jeff Miller

Every Badger fan knows those four squealing notes that open House of Pain’s hit “Jump Around.” The ’90s song has become synonymous with Wisconsin football over the last 25 years, its opening horn signaling to the Camp Randall crowd to jump in unison between the third and fourth quarters.

“Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin,” the lyrics start. And 80,000 fans in red and white spring into action, generating an earthquake that shakes the press box above. (Literally, the event registers on the Richter scale.)

Officially, Badgers have been jumping around since October 10, 1998, when the song first rang from the loudspeakers at the Homecoming game against Purdue. When the ESPN2 broadcast returned from commercial break for the fourth quarter, you could faintly hear the “Jump Around” horn in the background as announcer Joel Meyers said, with notable understatement, “The upper deck has been known to sway on occasion.”

The song selection was not a coincidence. UW athletics marketing intern Ryan Sondrup ’99, an injured tight end on the football team, was looking for ways to enhance the fan experience. He decided to test out some songs at Wando’s, where his teammate Erik Waisanen ’00 was bartending. They fed the jukebox and noticed a change of energy when “Jump Around” came on. Sondrup passed the suggestion along to Kevin Kluender, who coordinated Game Day entertainment.

A few days later, “Jump Around” debuted during a dramatic 31–24 win against Drew Brees and the Boilermakers. The tune has rocked Camp Randall every game since — except for one.

During renovations to Camp Randall in 2003, Athletic Director Pat Richter ’64, JD’71 became concerned about the physical impact of “Jump Around.” He pulled the song from the playlist in the home opener against Akron. When the time for “Jump Around” came and went, the stunned student section booed. The university was flooded with angry letters and calls; student government even drafted a resolution condemning the decision.

Chancellor John Wiley MS’65, PhD’68 commissioned a safety engineering study, which quickly reaffirmed past findings that, despite the swaying of the upper deck, there was no structural risk. At the next game, the fans once again obeyed the song’s command: “So get out your seat and jump around.”

Last November, House of Pain lead singer Everlast experienced Wisconsin’s “Jump Around” tradition in person for the first time. Right before those four squealing notes hit, he told the Camp Randall crowd: “Thank you for keeping the song alive.”

Published in the Fall 2023 issue


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