This fall, Virginia Tech has ramped up the Hokies Respect campaign--which debuted in August 2003--to encourage fans to follow the guidelines of the campaign's logo, "Hokies Respect: The Moment, The Opponent, The Game, Themselves, The Competition."
As Virginia Tech sports have gained in popularity, the ranks of the Hokie Nation have swelled. For the most part, Hokie fans contribute positively to Tech's successes and Tech coaches often credit the crowd's enthusiasm after a win. However, the nationwide trend of unsportsmanship-like behavior during and after games--including hurling items onto the field of play, rioting, and getting into fights with friends and foes alike--has been mimicked by some unruly Tech fans, says Director of Athletics Jim Weaver.
"I think people are tired of the behavior of some fans," Weaver notes. "It's not a rite of passage to come to a sporting event drunk, to verbally abuse people, or to bring alcohol into the stadium."
The focus of the revived campaign is maintaining Virginia Tech's reputation as a welcoming environment for Hokies and opponents alike. To that end, the Alumni Association, the Student Government Association, and campus administrators have joined the athletic department's efforts to spread the Hokie Respect message by word of mouth, signs, banners, and--most importantly--by setting examples through good behavior. (See this issue's Message from the President.)
As do the coaches. In early August, Head Football Coach Frank Beamer said that players who draw a personal or flagrant foul will forfeit a portion of their bowl-game stipend and will have to attend a 6 a.m. auxiliary workout during which they will run 100 yards per penalty yard.
Most of Tech's athletes, however, set positive examples of sportsmanship, a trait that has been noted by the Atlantic Coast Conference. The conference presents seasonal sportsmanship awards to recognize teams that conduct themselves with character and integrity, as determined by other players and coaches. In the past year, Virginia Tech's women's lacrosse team earned the spring 2006 award, the women's basketball team earned the winter 2005 award, and the women's soccer team earned the fall 2005 award.
During football games, most Hokies up in the stands display their enthusiasm and support through such traditions as shaking their keys on third-down plays, chanting "Let's go, Hokies!" until the stadium rocks, and performing the Hokey-Pokey at the end of the third quarter. This positive behavior has led several ESPN football announcers to comment that nothing can beat the sheer exuberance of Hokie fans during a night game at Lane Stadium.
This reputation is precisely why the Hokie Respect campaign is an ongoing process, says Weaver. "We want to be the very best school in the nation, in terms of sportsmanship, for both fellow Hokies and visiting fans."
For a list of prohibited items and for other answers about what is permitted at each of Virginia Tech"s athletic facilities, please go to www.hokiesports.com/facilities.html.