July 11, 2013

Summer Orientation - How to be a UVA Football Fan

How to be a UVA Football Fan

Summer orientation for this year's First-Year class has begun this week on Grounds. Flocks of name-tagged future Hoos and their families have begun to wander through the purple shadows looking for the nearest Starbucks and asking things like, "Is that building really named Balz?"

Well, welcome little Wahoos. I'm sure your orientation guides will set you up well for the fall - remember your UVAisms, never forget that Newcomb > OHill, and make sure the friend you make today and you register for a class together or you'll never see them again. To complete your preparations for joining us in August, Wahooze is here to help you with one of the most important lessons you could ever learn: How to be a UVA football fan. So, sit back, relax, grab a non-alcoholic Zima, and prepare to join one of the more... er... interesting... fan experiences college football has to offer.

Step One - Know the Basics

Certainly, having been accepted to Mr. Jefferson's University, you're already someone who expertly prepares for the challenges of the unknown. You already know our colors are Blue (Navy) and Orange. You've probably heard Cavaliers and Wahoos thrown around interchangeably. Keep in mind these other tidbits and you'll have a good foundation for starting your acclimation:

Coach: Mike London. Nice guy. Used to be an assistant coach here - has also won a D1-AA (FCS) national championship as head coach at Richmond. Jury's still out on whether he'll succeed here.

Quarterback: David Watford or Greyson Lambert. We'll find out sooner or later. Or not.

Greyson Lambert looks the part - but could be 2nd string.
Stadium: Scott Stadium. Pretty. There's a grassy hill. You'll probably watch games from it or the adjacent student section. You can't bury kegs in it anymore, but students used to.

Mascot: Cavman. He has an intro video. He fell off his horse once. Little kids love him. He's no Sabre the HorseHippoDragon

Acceptable Cheers: Any variation of Go Wahoos/Hoos, etc... Never have I heard someone yell "Go Cavaliers!" I don't recommend it.

Fight Song: Not really. When we score we sing the Good Ol Song (video below). It's now what you sing on New Year's instead of Auld Lang Syne. 

Step Two - Know the context

I've written a little on the historical background of UVA football, but you should probably get a good idea of how the school, students, and alumni approach football here. Firstly, we're not that good. We've gone 4-8 two of the past three seasons. However, we've been good before and there's a lot of hope surrounding Mike London and his ability to turn great recruiting into great results on the field. In my opinion, UVA is more of a basketball school than a football school - with a large focus on non-revenue sports as well. In the Director's Cup, the measurement for overall athletic programs, UVA always does well, as our lacrosse, tennis, swimming, soccer, and rowing teams regularly challenge for national championships. The basketball team seems set for consistent excellence with Tony Bennett at the helm, as does the women's team.

Football, however, will always be the most important sport in this country (Well, at least until society eventually deems its inherent dangers unacceptable). To the UVA community? Eh, not so much. Football here is relatively well-funded by the athletic foundation and its donors, so don't think it isn't a major focus in the community. However, while sort of being in the South, UVA (and Charlottesville, for sure) doesn't share the same fanatic obsession that many other schools in the region do. Scott Stadium wont sell out unless the team wins games and most University decisions that affect football are made with a "that's nice, let's hope they do well" motivation than a "THIS SCHOOL MUST WIN ITS AMATEUR FOOTBALL MATCHES AT ALL COSTS" mentality. This isn't to say folks don't care. We've got new facilities, a beautiful stadium, an overpaid coach, and you'll see more Orange and Blue around Grounds on Saturdays than your brain can handle. 

Frankly, it's nice to do things a little differently, a very UVA-ish way to approach it, but fans still want wins. I think UVA has a nice mix of caring about football (thousands of people still shell out hundreds of dollars to watch a usually-underachieving product) and keeping the overall importance of higher education. I could write at great length about the hypocrisy of the NCAA, but for now, it is what it is* and I appreciate how UVA approaches it. This lack of maniac ambition will always keep the ceiling for on-the-field performance lower than other teams, though.

*Al-Grohism Yall!

Step Three - Gameday Experience

August 31st approaches! 

How does one properly attend the game?
If it's a noon game, you're going to need to set an alarm, not just to get there by noon, but to get your requisite tailgating in as well. Being 18, you'll need to grab your ginger ale sans bourbon, fried chicken and such at any of the tailgates on the Lawn, behind Clark, or surrounding the stadium. 

But before I leave my dorm room - what to wear? 
You may surprised that this is a heavily debated, yet unimportant, topic. Tradition at the school dictates that you adorn your preppiest jacket/tie or dress/pearls before heading over. Logic would say an orange t-shirt and something weather-appropriate would be a more sensible outfit. You could also dress up like Thomas Jefferson. Do what you want. Those who care either way are missing the point.

Wasn't joking.

Where do I sit?
You can sit in the student section, in between the marching band and the hill. Or you can sit on the hill. The hill has the advantage of usually being less crowded than the bleachers, but the disadvantages of not having a good view of the videoboard and plenty of mud. Ladies, I don't recommend traversing the hill in heels.

How do I sneak booze in?
Er... I... have no idea. Ask someone in person. You'll figure it out.  Editor's Note: Here's a clue: airplane bottles.

What else should I do beforehand?
Hydrate. In fact, hydrate while you're there as well. It'll be plenty hot out during the early season games. A thousand shames upon your family if you fall victim to the ever-embarrassing act of passing out on the hill.

What do I do?
While certainly many treat it is a social event, you should probably pay some attention to the game while it's going on. Cheer when the good guys do well. Boo the refs no matter what. Sing the Good Ol Song when we score. Show up in time for kickoff, dammit.

What should I not do?
Keep the obscenities to a minimum, that type of language is reserved for Kendall. Plus, we're classier than that. Obey the decision the section in which you're sitting has made concerning standing v sitting. Don't boo 18-22 year old amateur student athletes, except Maryland players.

Step Four - Stay Informed

For keeping up to date on all things UVA sports, I recommend the following:

For fan opinions:

For recruiting info:

So, there you have it. You're now completely prepared to study, return in the fall, and be an expert UVA football fan. It may not be as rewarding these days as rooting for Alabama, but it's a great thing to be. Isn't that right, Mike Tobey?



  1. Great job, Pierce. Really, really great job. Thanks!

  2. But...but...I see nothing in here about dealing with the crushing pit of self-loathing and fatalistic despair. How do we teach the n00bs not to get used to having nice things?

  3. I love you guys - another great Wahooze article!