The UVa athletic code

As I bask in a UVa football victory by a team that seems, for the first time in years, headed in the right direction, I am moved to consider why this is so.

I happen to be reading Philip Bruce’s History of the University of Virginia now, and there’s a bit in a chapter on the first decade of the 20th century that describes a deliberate shift in Virginia’s attitude to collegiate athletics, one that was to inform its approach for much of the next 100 years:

The committee earnestly counselled that the following resolutions should be at once passed: (1) that, in the opinion of the Faculty and students, the only proper basis of inter-collegiate athletics was that spirit of pure amateur sport which animates contests between gentlemen the world over; and that the true criterion which differentiated amateur sports from professionalism was the spirit which plays the game for sake of the game itself; (2) that membership in a team should be held only by actual students,— a rule which would exclude all who carried about them the odor of professionalism,— and by young men whose class records demonstrated their keen interest in their scholastic work; (3) that it was the part of gentlemen engaged in any amusement, sport, or game, to remember, at all times, that they were gentlemen first, and only incidentally, players,— that they were to follow, not the bastard honor which calls for victory at whatever price of fraud or brutality, but the voice of true honor, which prefers an hundred defeats to victory purchased by chicanery or unfair dealing,— that the Faculty and students were determined to discountenence and brand with their disapproval any intentional violation of the rules of the game by members of the University teams or any improper advantage taken by them of their antagonists, and that it was entirely immaterial whether these were detected by umpire or referee; (4) that it was to be assumed that the opponents of these teams were gentlemen equally with themselves,— that every presumption of honorable dealing was to be accepted in their favor until the contrary was conclusively shown,— and that they were to be looked upon as guests, and as such to be always protected from rough and inequitable treatment; (5) that the spectators on the home grounds should show fairness and courtesy towards opposing players and officials of the game; and that the more considerate and generous the behavior of the University teams on such occasions, the more nearly would their members approach the ideal of the true gentleman and the true sportsman.

Thinking about where we are now, vs. where we were during the Groh years, my conclusion can only be that Mike London knows his University history.

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