Salisbury: Hope for the Hokies

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Salisbury: Hope for the Hokies

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April 20, 2007
By Jack Salisbury

The last two weeks have been rough on the world of sports. Meat-headed Don Imus, thinking he was being clever and funny, showed us that race and racism is still a paramount issue in today's America with his description of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos."

Then, NBA superstar and supposed role model Tim Duncan was challenged to a fight by veteran referee Joey Crawford. The scene had its comic elements to it, but it was still fairly disgusting with the raw angst and hate between the old Crawford and the robust Duncan.

In a time when nuclear weapons programs abound, people are killed over the outcomes of Little League games and enormously wealthy NBA players' demand salary hikes citing the "need to feed their family," you sometimes have to wonder where our neurotic society is going.

And then Virginia Tech happened.

Virginia Tech.

The Hokies have been a mainstay of college athletics for years. Head football coach Frank Beamer built his program based on hard work and excellent special teams play.

By the time a kid named Michael Vick stepped onto the Blacksburg campus in the fall of 1998, Beamer's program had reached the status of national power.

Since then, Virginia Tech has always been a mainstay of college football, competing in the national championship and appearing at numerous New Year's Day bowl games.

Under Seth Greenberg, Tech's basketball program has also risen, beating both Duke and North Carolina this year in ACC play and making the NCAA Tournament as a five seed.

It has never been hard to root for the Hokies; they have up-and-coming programs. And after all, who can resist rooting for a Hokie?

Part of the allure in rooting for the Hokies was that you often didn't know what a Hokie was. For the record, Hokie is a fictional mascot masquerading itself as a maroon bird.

But there's even more reason to root for the Hokies now.

We all know about the tragedy that took place this Monday. I can't imagine what it's like to be a student at Virginia Tech right now, to know someone who was shot or injured, to be around the university or to even be an alumnus. The inexplicable tragedy has moved our nation, brought people together, but most of all, it's left us asking: Why?

There isn't an answer, though. That's the hardest part.

It's times like these when sports are therapeutic, taking people away from the harsh reality of the world we live in. A touchdown, last-second shot or an interception can make people forget, for just a moment, what has happened.

What I'm saying is: Sports can be trivial, but for the most part, they're not.

A 45-yard touchdown run or a 50-yard field goal? Sure, they're pretty meaningless in the long run, but when you realize who they're affecting and how they're affecting them, they suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

After the city of New Orleans experienced the devastating disaster of Hurricane Katrina, it rallied around the hometown Saints. The Saints received coverage around the country for their heart-warming story; and unlike a lot of things dramatized in sports, the Saints' story was truly heartwarming.

Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and Marques Colston rejuvenated a city, a region and a country by bringing the Saints to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. They understood the responsibility on their shoulders and acted accordingly, being active in their communities and setting new standards for what it meant to be role models.

And in the process, they showed that sports aren't just sports. Sports bring people together. They may not seem to have that same effect in a place like California, but trust me: If you go to Tuscaloosa, Chapel Hill, or even Blacksburg, sports are a huge thing. They're more than just a game.

I'll be rooting for the Hokies every chance I get next year. I can only hope that the city of Blacksburg, the state of Virginia and the whole country will rally around Virginia Tech and its athletic program in moving on from this senseless tragedy.

It was hard to not root for the Hokies before. Now? It's impossible.

Jack Salisbury is a freshman. Contact him at jack24@stanford.edu.

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Original Source: <a href="http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2007/4/20/salisburyHopeForTheHokies"> Stanford Daily - April 20, 2007</a>

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Jack Salisbury

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Stanford Daily

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2007-06-13

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Sara Hood

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The Stanford Daily
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Jack Salisbury, "Salisbury: Hope for the Hokies," in The April 16 Archive, Item #509, http://april16archive.org/items/show/509 (accessed July 29, 2014).