ESPN's Reilly wants '60,000 signs' to defy UVA ban

Signs at UVA sporting events, even those like this pro-Wahoo one from 2005, have been relegated to the dust piles of history–- for now.

Communist China, Fidel Castro, and the University of Virginia. What do all these things have in common? According to ESPN commentator Rick Reilly, all three of them are guilty of "good ol' fashioned totalitarianism," ever since last week, when UVA brass decided to ban all signs at sporting events.

The university first enforced the ban at the home football opener against Southern California last Saturday, with ushers insisting that fans dump their homemade signs into the garbage cans placed adjacent to each entrance to Scott Stadium. If Reilly has his way, they're going to need more than garbage cans to contain what's coming.

"Bring signs that say nothing. Bring signs that say, 'This Is Not a Sign,'" implores Reilly in a column published on yesterday. "Or bring 60,00 signs and let the athletic department goons try to sort them out."

Reilly also sought out the opinion of former UVA president and current director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Speech Robert O'Neil. While O'Neil isn't quoted condemning the decision, he does point out that it will be difficult to enforce.

"We don't quite know what constitutes a sign," says O'Neil. "Paint on someone's chest? A T-shirt? It's not quite clear."

For right now, it seems the sign ban doesn't extend to chests and stomachs. Plenty of students who turned out to Scott Stadium for the game against USC came spelling out pro-UVA messages like "G-O-W-A-H-O-O-S."

How will Reilly's call to sign-waving arms play out? Well, it could wash out, as Tropical Storm Hanna is slated to drop at least an inch of rain on this Saturday's home game against Richmond and deliver enough wind to wrest any sign from the grip of all but the most ardent free speech supporters. Maybe next time.


There was another report that UVA is banning tailgate parties on the Lawn. You may remember that UVA hates tailgaters so much that, even before 9/11, they created a no-leaving at halftime rule to try to drown out parking lot tailgates.

Actually, that's incorrect. They didn't eliminate the halftime leaving-and-returning because they hate tailgates. If they didn't have tailgates, they wouldn't be able to extract so much $$ for spaces. What they wanted was to keep people inside the stadium, requiring them to spend $ during halftime instead of hitting their cooler in the parking lot, and perhaps most important they (and others) were just tired of seeing the stands half empty during the 3rd quarter because so many people were in the parking lot. This policy has done nothing to prevent or interrupt pre-game and post-game tailgating. Being able to leave a stadium or arena during halftime and returning is very uncommon.

Yeah lets all bring a bunch of unclever signs to a game that's not even televised so people who pay good money can look at the back of construction paper for 3 hours instead of the game. Good for them for banning all those stupid signs.

It's a sad day for Tom's university. The man who helped initiate free-speech practices would be ashamed. It is up to the people to decide what is appropriate, not the administrators. UVa needs to come back to reality and rejoin the modern world.

Also, we should all start saying and writing "unclever."

From what I heard from the game goers, there were signs. Paper. Easily folded and smuggled into the stadium. A few even said "This is not a sign." Good for them. It's really sad when this is what constitutes as being rouge in school -- hiding signs and sneaking them into a football game.

Grow some tougher skin, Groh. Or get a different job. We all don't need more hugs to make the world a better place. Didn't we learn anything from PCU?