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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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Shawn Moore on the Clemson win

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Glee Club football songs: “Hike, Virginia”

"Hike, Virginia" lyrics in a 1911 football song book

It’s first and ten for a new season of Virginia football, and for the first time in several years my heart is full of more than the usual blind optimism. With a new coach at the helm, I feel as though Virginia has a chance to shake loose the malaise that’s gripped the team for the past few years. In the spirit of blind optimism, then, I present a little history: the back story of a Virginia football song, “Hike, Virginia.”

As I noted earlier this year, spectators used to sing at Virginia football games. And not just “The Good Old Song”–there were songs for every occasion and for every foe. A 1911 football song book that has come into my possession indicates part of how they were able to pull this off, by having lyrics in front of every fan, but there was much more required to make it happen, from the presence of a band (or the Glee Club) at games to Virginia fans who would write songs to be sung by the crowd. One of these fans was L. D. Crenshaw, and the song was “Hike, Virginia,” cowritten by Crenshaw and C.S. McVeigh.

The story might end there, but I did a little sleuthing and found that L.D. Crenshaw was in fact Lewis D. Crenshaw, first secretary of the UVA Alumni Association, first to successfully accomplish a system of modern reunions, and the originator and host of the University’s bureau in Paris during World War I. He was fondly remembered by many alumni as a redoubtable host; a New Years Eve party in Paris was to continue “‘jusqu’au moment où les vaches rentrent chez ell’ (’til the cows come home). On the menu was ‘de l’egg nogg véritable.’” He was also instrumental in getting the centennial reunion together, with his goal being

to see that every human critter that can walk or hop or crawl or fly or swim, or even float down the Rivanna on his back, gets within calling distance of the old Rotunda… [searching for the] oldest living specimen of the genus alumnus Virginiensis, who we will have seated on the throne of extinct beer kegs [prohibition being in full force], and crowned with a chaplet of fragrant mint leaves.

Unfortunately, the infant Alumni Association could not afford to keep up Crenshaw’s salary, reports University historian Virginius Dabney–it seems alums were delinquent in their dues even in the beginning–so he resigned his post and returned to Paris indefinitely.

Less is known of C.S. McVeigh, save that he was in the Glee Club in 1905, per concert reviews in the spring of that year published in the Baltimore Sun and the Alexandria Gazette. (It is becoming axiomatic that just about every Virginia song I run across has at least one Glee Club man responsible for its authorship.) But together they produced a lesser known but still fun gem in the annals of Virginia songs.

“Hike, Virginia” was first recorded on Songs of the University of Virginia and can be heard on the Glee Club’s current record, Songs of Virginia, along with other Virginia songs.

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