Best Seat in the House column by Chris Graham
This picture just about says it all, don’t you think?
I remember my former colleague at ACCNation.com, Patrick Hite, writing a story about the Virginia Tech-UVa. rivalry in the wake of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16 – and the general sentiment that he heard at the time from UVa. fans was that for all intents and purposes the rivalry was on hold in the aftermath of what had happened in Blacksburg that fateful day.
I then remember hearing from ‘Hoos at Scott Stadium the day of the annual football game who were expressing … shall we say displeasure? … at what became known later on the message boards as the Hokie LoveFest engineered by athletics director Craig Littlepage and UVa. president John Casteen that a sizable number of fans and alums felt was a tad bit inappropriate given the circumstances.
Those on the Virginia side who weren’t quite that far along in their feelings just yet certainly are now that they see how Hokie Nation feels about them.
“Plane banners are step 3 in the healing process behind sadness and rage,” one Sabre.com reader wrote on the site’s football message board, referring to the banner that was tugged by a plane that circled Jacksonville Memorial Stadium for about an hour before the start of the Gator Bowl on Tuesday.
“Hope someone took a picture and can send it to Casteen and Littlepage,” wrote another.
(Consider that taken care of.)
“This banner referencing UVa.’s 4/16 acknowledgment sinks to a new level. I’m not sure how fans of VT can continually write off behavior like this as ‘just jocular pranks’ or ‘all in good fun,'” wrote a third.
It was this post that got my attention after the fact – because I hadn’t thought about that aspect to it, that the reference to “Virginia Pride” in the banner was a play on the pregame ceremony that was held in Scott Stadium back in November, and the unfurling of a huge “Virginia Pride” flag that linked the logos of the two schools in solidarity in honor of the victims of 4/16.
(To borrow from Ron Burgundy: “Stay classy, Blacksburg!”)
I guess that one got lost on me because I was there at the Gator Bowl – and being there was more focused on the timing of when the plane made its first appearance.
My college roommate was pointing to the sky to get me to take a picture of the plane that had been flying around the stadium tugging a banner promoting the presidential campaign of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee – knowing that I am in addition to being a sports junkie a politics junkie nonpareil.
I saw through the lens of my camera that it was no Huckabee banner that I was getting ready to chronicle for the ages.
“Um, Jay, you’re not going to believe this …”
The UVa. marching band had just made its appearance at a pregame pep rally as this was all going on.
The ultimate in couth there.
(The phrase “Did somebody just piss in your Wheaties?” has a whole new meaning for me now.)
I’m long since past the UVa.-alum-with-offended-feelings stage that had had me in its throes for the past several days.
OK, so I’m not.
But anyway …
I guess if nothing else that the prank (Act of utter coarseness! Sorry. I have to suppress the inner Wahoo in me better than that) officially marks the end of the period of playing nice that those in UVa. Nation had felt was necessary to observe after what had happened in April.
Even if as I make this observation I want to make this additional one – that whoever it was who rented the plane has about the level of political smarts that George W. Bush has for squandering the goodwill post-9/11.
But I digress.
I’m going to state what should be by now more than obvious, mainly just for the record …
‘Hoos, hey, it’s OK to hate VPISU again.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.