THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Brother's keeper: Hokies deserve scorn for embarrassing loss
People who grow up with brothers or sisters abide by certain rules: no biting, no borrowing without asking, and unless there's a broken bone or a lot of blood, don't bother Mama. Siblings are made to be broken, at least within the family. But outside the family, the rules change.
I had no problem pounding my brother's arm into a bloody pulp at home, but woe to the outsider, on the the school bus for instance, who tried the same. That's my arm to pound, not yours, see? I don't care what he said or did, mess with my brother and you mess with me. There are always bullies on the school bus, and I've just rolled up my sleeves.
UVA football is like a brother to me. It's annoying, sullen, embarrassing, and often very wrong. I can say that: it's my family. I can insult it all day, but that's only because I love it. If you don't love it, you'd better keep your insults to yourself.
Like any good sister, I know my brother. I knew how he was going to play against USC, and I let him go ahead and embarrass himself anyway. Brothers are stubborn, and no sister can convince them they're about to make a huge mistake. Don't jump a four-wheeler off a plywood ramp: you'll end up in the hospital. Don't play the third-ranked team in the country: you'll humiliate yourself.
I expected UVA to mortify its family by playing USC this past weekend, and I wasn't disappointed. Frankly, I was pleased UVA even made it on the scoreboard; that was more than I hoped. My real pride came, as a sister's usually does, from knowing that someone else's brother took a harder blow to the chin.
One would think when a Charles Atlas program like Virginia Tech's falls to ECU, the annihilation of a 90-pound weakling program like UVA's wouldn't make much of a stir.
Au contraire, apparently.
The bullies on the school bus have rallied around Virginia Tech, and like most tormenters, have decided to prove their worth by picking on the smallest kid in the seats.
"Cavaliers crushed" reads a major Virginia paper's Sunday sports page, accompanied by a 6x9 photo of USC's Clay Matthews wringing the neck of UVA's Peter Lalich.
You have to look a little harder for the Virginia Tech story.
Yes, Tech's loss is also reported on the sports section's front page, but the accompanying photo isn't of Sean Glennon's incomplete pass or Brent Bowden's blocked punt. No, the story's photo– measuring 2x3, by the way– is of Coach Frank Beamer. He looks upset in the picture, but nothing to belie the magnitude of Tech's loss.
The headline won't give you any clues either. The size is the same as "Cavaliers crushed," but "ECU turns table on Tech" just doesn't have the same ring, does it? "Cavaliers crushed"– now that's catchy.
As a sister, perhaps I'm being overly sensitive. That is only one paper, after all, Let me look again–
On the front page of another major Virginia paper, I find "East Carolina special teams block out Hokies, while Cavs are trounced by No. 3 USC."
And screaming from another Virginia front page "Cavaliers crushed in home opener: Hokies stumble."
Since when does falling to an unranked team constitute a "stumble"?
To stumble implies a mere mistake, a moment of hesitation, nothing more. I know UVA was annihilated, but let's call a spade a spade. The Hokies didn't stumble; they were soundly defeated.
I don't mind the headline "Cavaliers crushed." It's nothing less than the truth.
But it was also completely unsurprising– and compared to Tech's loss, much less embarrassing. When my brother stood up to a boy three times his size, I knew he would be crushed, but he tried, durn it. There's no dishonor in that.
The bullies on this school bus need to start picking on someone their own size and quit giving Tech a free pass. Then again, for the moment, it's the only kind they can complete.