Sportsmanship in the Wake of the Tragedy at Virginia Tech

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The
initial rush of emotion from the April 16th shootings at Virginia Tech has died
down. The long-term emotional residue is unknown at this point, but there will
be a lot of it. Right now, for those of us not directly affected by the
shootings, it’s an emotional “quiet period,” and as the tragedy
recedes into the distance, how it is remembered and treated is yet to be
determined. As a sports web site, we ask the question, what will be the effects
on the interaction of Hokie fans with their rivals and opponents?

Football is Virginia Tech’s signature sport (be patient, Seth Greenberg is
working on that…), and when classes resume this fall and the Hokie football
team takes the field, April 16th will be brought up again and again and again.

There will probably be some sort of tribute to the victims on the Tech
uniforms, perhaps a black ribbon on the jerseys or a sticker on the helmets.
ESPN and other networks will reference the tragedy again and again throughout
the course of the season. Interviewers will ask about it. On the road, opposing
teams will have some sort of tribute or ceremony. At home, opposing teams will
make gestures like donating to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. The shootings
will be a steady drumbeat behind the story line of the season.

With that as the backdrop, the question is, how should we all act?

In normal times, opponents are the enemy, pure and simple. For you to win,
they must lose, and there’s no namby-pamby, we’re-all-in-it-together fuzziness
about it. For “us” to go up, “you” have to go down. Too bad
for you. Cry me a river. Bye!

I’ve always boo’ed the opposing team when they run out of the tunnel.
“Hokies Respect” hasn’t changed that for me, and it never will. (My
mom doesn’t think you should boo, so I’m going against my own mother here.)

It’s

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