Wide Right: An Issue of Class
by Jeff Cockey, 2/13/04

Letís talk a little bit about class. Not the kind that I made a habit of sleeping through on chilly Blacksburg mornings, when the drill field was more like a wind tunnel than a place to congregate. Or the kind I made a habit of sleeping through on sunny summer mornings when the previous eveningís activities on the deck of the Balcony were so thoroughly enjoyed. My attempt to fix this problem by scheduling only afternoon classes seemed to backfire . . . You see, in the afternoon everyone was out on Slusher Beach or the Prairie (which seems to no longer be a prairie). Or in front of Lee Hall, where I spent many an afternoon kicking the ball around, listening to the stereo Carl had set up in his first floor window. You get the idea. So a few academic probations later, here I am. At least I got plenty of sleep. Anyway, this is not the "class" that I wish to discuss with you. What I wish to discuss is the problem(?) that is so engulfing America today.

I think it prudent to explain why I have chosen this topic. When sitting down to breakfast the other morning, I was confronted with the USA Today. The front page of the newspaper was dominated by sports, and not in a good way. "NASCAR favoritism?" Evidently, Juniorís ability to study his competition is paying off to the point that the other drivers are now screaming favoritism. Even Dr. Howard Dean jumped in, hinting that Earnhardt, like presidential candidate hopeful John Kerry, looked a lot younger in the winnerís circle last time around. Say it ainít so Howie! Thereís no botox in NASCAR?

Next to that article was one about the Super Bowl halftime show. What have we come to when Janet Jackson bares her breast during halftime? Didnít she realize that no one bought a ticket to the game in order to see Janet (Miss Jackson if youíre nasty) perform? Didnít Janet realize that no one tuned into one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played hoping to see another member of the Jackson family steal airtime from more deserving performers? Look, itís not that I hate Janet Jackson Ė truth be told, and frankly this is embarrassing to even write, I was in the crowd at the Oakland Coliseum dancing to the sounds of the Rhythm Nation Tour. Actually, I was watching the other high school-aged girls dance since this was Janet pre-Slimfast. Maybe that is the issue Ė maybe Janet lost all of that weight and got into incredible shape and thus she has the right, no-no, the duty to expose her newly sculpted body for all the world to see. Maybe I have no point here about class. Or maybe the Jackson family is quite possibly the most ridiculous group to ever roam the earth. Seriously folks, when Tito is the shining star of your gene pool, youíve got some problems to address.

Letís talk about the next column, which deals with Maurice Clarett. Hey kids, go commit insurance fraud, be like Leon Ė "Thereís no I in team" (from the Budweiser commercials). Basically, be a guy that has incredible athletic ability and because of that fact, act like the world owes you a favor and you can do whatever you please. And why not? Whatís the worst that could happen? You win your court case against the NFL so that you can take your childish games to the next level. Oh, and weíll pay you millions of dollars too. Give me a break.

With all of this negative sporting news on the front page of the paper, I figure that there has to be only good news in the sports section. Nope, more of the same, including a disturbing bit about the ESPN show Playmakers. Itís off the air? What? Come on, I loved that show. Now ESPN states that following pressure from the NFL, Playmakers calls it quits after one season. Whatever! They ran out of plot. After one season of homosexuality, wife beating, drug overdosing, rehabilitation, locker room brawls, murder, cover-up, etc . . . what was to come next? My question is that since Playmakers was so obviously outrageous, why did the NFL even care? Or . . . was it too realistic? Who knows? Maybe there werenít enough booby shots to keep the ratings high. Someone give Jackson and Timberlake a call, we need this show back on the air.

I understand that none of this has anything to do with Virginia Tech, save one column on the front page that I have yet failed to mention. "How free should speech be at campus games?" The column begins with this: "COLLEGE PARK Md. Ė You canít shout Ďfire!í in a crowded theater. But you can shout a different F-word in a crowded arena?" Evidently, the students of the University of Special Turtles (my great detest for all things Testudo stems from my ongoing rivalry with the elder Cockey, who was granted a diploma from said institution) believe that it is their constitutional right to shout obscenities at sporting events. Well, I canít fault them for their knowledge of the law, but I can fault them for being classless. Or can I?

A certain Sugar Bowl against Texas comes to mind when yours truly may have had a few choice words to say to some Longhorn fans on the streets of the French Quarter. I can also remember another Sugar Bowl against Fla. State when I may have let a few "darns" and "dagnabits" slip out. And there were times at Lane Stadium, too few to really mention mind you, when my own friends moved seats, away from me, due to my over-zealous behavior. Did I think it was wrong to speak my mind? Obviously not, at the time. Do I now? Well . . . perhaps. Every school has students who are guilty of vulgarity, but evidently Maryland, our fellow ACC compatriot, has a problem that warrants recognition on the front page of a national publication. In our jump from the Big East to the ACC, have we simply exchanged West Virginia fans for Maryland fans? I refuse to believe that the Twerps could be half as immature as the ĎEers Ė although they did burn down College Park when they won the NCAA title. I guess the line is crossed once couches become involved. Where am I going with this? I have no freakiní clue. So I will get to some kind of a point just as soon as I think of one.

Bottom line is that we all got on Jim Weaverís case for implementing this Hokies Respect crap, but he may have a point. While I believe that Weaver has taken it way, way, way too far, I have come around to seeing that the concept has merit. By that I mean letís not sweat the small stuff like booing the other team, which is inherently part of sports. Let's worry about our fans fighting, cussing, being vulgar, murdering, covering-up, drug overdosing, and all of the other plot lines that we so loved from Playmakers. If all we had was booing in the stands, and maybe an occasional boob hanging out, I think we could all live with that. Yes?

All right. I have received so much flak from people about "softballing" the movie quotes. But on the flip side, there are people out there who have a much more exciting life than I and thus havenít the time to indulge in frequent cinematic viewing. (Wow. Sorry, the grammatical structure of that last sentence impressed me. Difficult to believe I typed it.) So I am encumbered with the task of picking a quote that is challenging yet mainstream enough that everyone can participate. I wonít pat myself on the back just yet but I think I have accomplished that.

"Brian for example has 37 pieces [portion of the quote that I feel would make it too easy] on today . . . and a terrific smile."

As always, I enjoy and encourage your comments, questions, and insults. [email protected]


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