Alright, so admittedly I do not regularly write about football. But I do enjoy going to games, so with road trip to University of North Carolina out of the question, I decided to make the best of the away game and recreate an authentic Lane Stadium experience in my friend’s apartment. So far, it’s perfect: not that many people came, it was pretty quiet, no one was really paying attention to the game, and the people who did show up were sitting down the whole time.
Fellow Hokies, I recently read Brian Marcolini’s letter, published on the Key Play blog, and I’m sure some of you have, as well. And as much as it pains me to say this, there are really no two ways about it: he’s right.
I am a first-year graduate student at Virginia Tech. I had heard so much from my friends who attended Tech about how awe-inspiring Hokie football games at Lane Stadium were before ever setting foot on campus. Even as a veteran college football fan, seasoned by four years as an undergrad at the University of Notre Dame, the prospect of attending my first game as a Tech student excited me.
We were playing Bowling Green State University that day, and the scene at Lane Stadium was stunning, even high on the summit of the East stands where the ticket office consigns all the second-class fans like me.
It was a great day for a football game.
But if I had to estimate, I’d say about half of the student ticket holders wouldn’t know about any of this. Vacant seats were everywhere. By halftime, the north end zone stands were empty. Seriously, they were completely empty. I’d never seen anything like it.
Now maybe my friends left me with unduly high expectations, but I have to imagine this Lane Stadium is a relatively new phenomenon. I’ve seen Newman Library more crowded and rowdy than the stands were that Saturday.
Where were the raucous fans of old I’d heard about, so loud and obnoxious that cheers were banned from the stadium? Where is the twelfth man, yelling on defense, intimidating opposing teams with a fierce rallying cry and a handful of keys? They are still out there if you look hard enough, but they seem to be the last of a dying breed. If you can honestly call yourself one of those noble few, then read no further and keep up the good work. But if you’re one of those people showing up midway through the first quarter, leaving by the half, and sitting the entire time, consider yourself on football probation until your participation grade improves.
When I was an undergraduate, we stood on our seats from the opening kickoff to the last words of the alma mater. Weather, terrible football and growing sobriety be damned.
Fellow Hokies, we have been called out, and I agree that we are not being the best fans we can be. But it is never too late to change.
Even when the team struggles, the football players put in hard work on and off the field to represent the Virginia Tech community. Show them you appreciate it.
Opposing schools will talk about how easy it is to play in Lane Stadium. Show them why they should fear an autumn trip to southwestern Virginia.
Many people all across the country will never visit Blacksburg. Their only taste of Tech spirit will come from games broadcast in their living rooms. Show them what it means to be a Hokie.
In short, this is what I suggest: if you have a ticket, come to the game. If you come to the game, stay for the game. And if you stay for the game, be into the game. Be loud on defense, be obnoxious — within the limits of good sportsmanship, of course — shake your keys, push up your friends, do the Hokie Pokie and, for the love of all that is good and holy, never sit down!
Channel your anger into screaming at the Duke game Saturday afternoon. My old college roommate will be visiting, and I want him to experience the real Lane Stadium.
And if all this just seems like too much work, feel free to send a tweet to @KulakCT, and I’ll be glad to take the ticket off your hands.