An early season matchup between the University of Virginia and William & Mary football teams was focused more on the return of former Cavaliers head coach Mike London than the action on the gridiron.
But an entirely different yet all too familiar issue was cause for concern coming out of the 52-17 drubbing.
The chant of “not gay” after the word “gay” in Virginia’s fight song, “The Good Old Song,” hasn’t gone away despite the effort of the university and its alumni.
The university has been combating the apparent need of the majority of a college football stadium to decry “no homo” for years. As Outsports reported seven years ago this month, the school’s student council passed a resolution calling on students to end the chant in 2012. The university’s LGBT Union’s fight against the chant dates back even further.
UVA’s latest attempt is a video featuring UVA football players, students and prominent alumni, including Tina Fey, asking fans to refrain from using the chant. The video airs in the stadium ahead of games in the hopes that fans will take the message to heart.
They aren’t. And UVA fans are getting fed up.
Most notably the Augusta Free Press’ Chris Graham. Graham, who regularly covers the Cavaliers, called for the university to stop using the song in a column Monday.
“My UVA is the place that produces people like Chris Long and Malcolm Brogdon, using their platforms as pro athletes to build wells for communities in Africa that don’t have access to clean drinking water. People who use the song that we sing to celebrate a touchdown to be homophobic assholes don’t deserve to be there.
“Here’s another idea: scrap “The Good Old Song.” There’s no place to “not gay!” if there’s no “Good Old Song.” Yeah, I get it, this is another “this is why we can’t have good things” kind of thing. A few people – OK, not exactly a few people; it’s a lot of people – continue to fuck this up for everybody. And getting rid of the song is letting them win. News flash: they’re already winning. They’re pretty much farting in our general direction every time UVA scores. The video was a nice touch, but it’s not going to work. So, scrap the song. We’re not exactly beholden to tradition anymore.”
Graham’s radical yet viable position came after his wife overheard an exuberant fan loudly defying the pre-game video’s message immediately after it aired. “My wife sat in the lower bowl for the home opener with William & Mary Friday night,” wrote Graham. “She said one fan in particular made it a point, after the video ran on the big screen, to tell everyone around that he was going to say what he wanted to, and then did.”
The proposal to end the use of the song is a drastic one, but it’s increasingly becoming viable as the university’s requests for tolerance continually fall on deaf ears. Especially if an earnest request from Tina Fey won’t get the job done.