How do memes start? Sometimes it is worthwhile to start at the end and move backwards. Above is a picture of me wearing a t-shirt that I bought from someone who was quite cleverly profiting off of a book that is coming out that I read and reviewed . Although by the time this post comes out I will not be available to post, I decided to write this ahead of time to participate in the attempt of someone to make a meme about author Ben Malcolmson go viral. I like memes, and I am willing to pay a bit of money to help out in their spread, especially when they involve a likable writer who seems like a worthwhile person and whose book I enjoyed a great deal. So it happens that on July 17, 2018, while I am volunteering at a church summer camp, this blog will post, hopefully to some read and likes, in honor of a writer.
How was it that I got involved in this meme in the first place, though? I am no stranger to memes, of course , but why this one? As it happens, I read and reviewed the book from which this meme springs as a result of being part of a blog tour related to the book, and being active in social media and in support of other readers of the book, I was asked to wear this shirt to celebrate the release of the book about Ben’s life as a football player and scout on both the college and pro level, where he works for the Seattle Seahawks. The meme, though, springs from the author’s experience as a walk on at the University of Southern California, where the home fans at the LA Colosseum would chant “Get Ben In” during garbage time of games that were well-in hand during that very successful period of Trojan football. From the book, at least, the chant was successful on at least one occasion, and enough people remembered the chant for it to become a worthwhile meme to this day, remembered in a book and now a t-shirt.
Of course, I was not around when that meme started. By the time that Ben was a walk-on for the USC football team, I lived in Florida and was studying for my master’s degree, and no longer as closely involved with my first alma mater. of course, Ben was not the first walk-on to participate in the University of Southern California’s celebrated football team. Not by a long shot. On July 31, 2017, for example, USC added six walk-ons, and even if none of them are likely to be famous, they are part of a very lengthy and very noble tradition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of those people are not very happy with the way that walk ons are simultaneously used as “cannon fodder” and subject to draconian transfer penalties while being denied basic amenities like food, insurance, and medical care. Even during the time I was at USC there was a walk-on who I cheered on when I watched USC win over Louisiana Tech in the last game of a meaningless season that didn’t even end in a bowl game, and I cheered on a practice squad tight end as much as anyone else in the stadium.
Why would someone care about a walk-on? Why do tens of thousands of people in stadiums chant for them to be put in the game? I think in large part that this is due to the understanding that a walk-on is someone not very far from the average fan in the stands. Most of us who cheer on sports teams have never been drafted by anyone, never been recruited by a college or had to deal with the insanity of NCAA rules for athletics. We cheer on teams or enjoy watching sports, but we watch as fans and outsiders, and we judge athletes as well as coaches and scouts and referees and such people to be insiders. A walk-on, though, is someone who crossed over from the outside to the inside, and thus retains a great deal of sympathy with those of us on the outside. Because we knew they came from where we are, there is a stronger sense of loyalty and interest in their well-being among the general public than with athletes who are seen to be a part of a separate world. And who doesn’t root for an underdog?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: