YOWELL: Don’t police Tech and U.Va.’s rivalry

Lighthearted competition between two schools does not equate to unsportsmanlike behavior

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Having students stop the chant is neither likely nor acceptable as it is a manifestation of a relatively benign competition between the two schools. 

Ariana Gueranmayeh | Cavalier Daily

After the recent release of a video asking students to refrain from shouting additional phrases during The Good Ol’ Song, University President Jim Ryan was forced to respond to pushback from some of the student body. Some students believe the video wrongfuly equated the phrase “not gay” with the phrase “F—k Tech,” to which Ryan stated was not the intent of the video. He is quoted saying, “Obviously, one is very different from the other. Saying ‘not gay’ — that's really divisive. Saying ‘F Tech’ — that's just not who we are, in terms of sportsmanship.” Yet even with the clear difference in the level of harm done by the two phrases, Ryan went on to say the University and the participants of the video “wanted to stop both” from being chanted during The Good Ol’ Song. 

While the term “not gay” has not been shouted since students rallied to end this practice, yelling “F—k Tech” during the song has famously taken its place. The University aimed to stop this tradition by displaying the video before this season’s home football opener, but students only proceeded to shout “F—k Tech” even louder. However, the continuation of the chant “F—k Tech” was not done out of disrespect for the University, Ryan, participants in the video, the other team or even Virginia Tech for that matter — it was done out of a sense of rivalry. This rivalry between the University and Virginia Tech is a longstanding, lighthearted tradition that both schools continue to enjoy in different ways. Therefore, having students stop the chant is neither likely nor acceptable as it is a manifestation of a relatively benign competition between the two schools. 

The reality is that this so-called “unsportsmanlike” rivalry between the University and Virginia Tech does not simply exist within a chant during our alma mater song— it is a long-established tradition dating all the way back to 1895, when the schools first faced one another. This rivalry can now be seen in every corner and crevice of life at the University. For instance, it dominates social media, where famous accounts run by Cavalier and Hokie fans — on both Twitter and Instagram — feud with one another in honor of the long-standing competition between the two schools. 

Yet the rivalry doesn’t end there. Mincer’s — a University apparel store — even sells orange and blue pins with the phrase “Wreck Tech” printed on it, encouraging everyone, not just students, to join in on the fun. 

Coach Bronco Mendenhall also persistently reminds fans that the main focus of the Cavaliers right now is to defeat Virginia Tech, earning the Commonwealth Cup for the first time since 2003. In fact, Mendenhall was quoted saying, “The brutal fact is, that game has to be won by Virginia.” He went on to emphasize that the Cavaliers would not fully reach their potential until the 15-game losing streak against Tech has ended. In fact, to transition from offseason workouts to pre-season preparations, fourth-year linebacker Jordan Mack smashed a rock with the words “Beat Tech” and other “inspirational messages” written on it. 

Virginia Tech sophomore punter Oscar Bradburn responded to the Cavaliers’ ceremony by retweeting the video with the words “tell Perkins not to fumble the hammer,” referencing the overtime fumble that led to a loss for the Cavaliers during last season’s faceoff between the archrivals. 

While the original Good Ol’ Song was devoid of any profane additions, it is only chanted during social gatherings and sporting events to add vibrancy and community to the song. When performing the song or singing it seriously, students often respect the original lyrics and leave out the profanity, as there is a time and place for everything. With that being said, under the lights of Scott Stadium, in the parking lot of tailgates or on the grassy field of Mad Bowl, it is time for fierce competition. Therefore, the University should not ask students or fans to cease the chant “F—k Tech,” because it is a harmless tradition enjoyed by students, motivates both teams and creates an atmosphere of unity among members of the University community. We enjoy being one another’s rivals, and that is something that will never change. 

Hailey Yowell is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at h.yowell@cavalierdaily.com

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