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UVA! USA! Virginia Hoops Pre-Game Appropriately Honors American Flag

Virginia
AP Photo/Steve Helber
KEVIN SCHOLLA

Once again, Virginia basketball is off to a roaring start. Cavaliers fans have grown accustomed to their squad piling on the victories ever since Tony Bennett took the helm in Charlottesville back in 2009.

This season’s 12-0 record however is even more impressive considering how last season ended. Back in March, UVA became the first top seed in NCAA tournament history to lose to a #16 when they fell to UMBC. Instead of sulking and looking back on the past, Bennett and his boys are pulling a Marv Levy and the Bills, if you will. In the early 1990s, Levy somehow guided Buffalo to four straight Super Bowl appearances. The Bills would lose the big game each time, yet Levy kept his club mentally focused and returned to the title tilt again and again despite having that bitter taste in their mouths from the previous campaign’s horrific ending. Virginia is a great example of keeping things in perspective and living in the now.

As good as UVA has been on the court with their stingy defense and hard nosed determination, the 4th ranked school in the country is also one of the best when it comes to patriotism. Sure, the city of Charlottesville is a bastion for liberal lunacy, but their university’s basketball pre-game is far from far-left.

Unless you’re Roger Goodell’s NFL, it is customary to stand for our national anthem before sporting events in America. Almost all fans know the drill of standing up, hand on heart, looking at our flag while “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed. Much less however know the proper protocol when our colors are presented.

The presentation of colors is a ceremony presenting our flag. The “colors” refer to the flag specifically. A color guard, consisting of two honor guards and two flag bearers, presents the colors. A Sergeant-at-Arms dictates the orders during the ceremony. Proper respect should be given to the colors at all times during the ceremony.

When the colors are presented, the group on hand faces the flag and stands at attention. Honor is given to the flag, whether it is a salute, standing at attention, or removal of hats and placing hands over hearts. The anthem is performed and the color guard retreats upon orders from the Sergeant. Spectators should remain standing until the flag is out of sight. Very few fans know this.

As I pointed out years before the Kaepernick nonsense, respect for our flag has been on the down slide for some time. While rudeness has negatively hit the anthem, cluelessness reigns supreme when it comes to the presentation of the colors. In my experience while in the broadcasting booth announcing games when the colors are presented, the only people that remain standing until the flag is off the field or court are the players, team officials, those of us in the booth who care, and veterans in attendance. Otherwise you’d have more luck finding a guy wearing an authentic USFL jersey than you would have spotting more than a dozen fans still on their feet and silent as the flag is taken away.

During Virginia’s game last week against William & Mary, Wahoos hoops fans had no excuse for not knowing the protocol. No one in attendance could plead ignorance during the pre-game presentation of the colors. That’s because the Cavs public address announcer actually informed the crowd of the colors being presented and respectfully asked the crowd to stand throughout the anthem and through the presentation, until the colors are removed from the court. The faithful at John Paul Jones Arena did not disappoint.

While surely not everyone followed this gesture of patriotism to a tee, it sure seemed as if 14-thousand plus people were on the same page. The JPJ was quiet. Proper respect was shown to our beautiful flag and the exceptional country it represents. The same UVA fans who cheer wildly for orange and blue defensive stops, stood in silence to honor the red, white, and blue. Virginia gets it when it comes to basketball and America.

While it is sad that the announcer had to inform Americans about how to honor the American flag in the first place, it’s a good start in our post-Kaepernick sports world. Perhaps the young fans will learn about honoring our flag and pass along this worthy practice for generations to come. Perhaps other announcers in other cities will inform more fans about how to be a patriot. Until then we can hang our hats on some very positive things happening on and off the court in Thomas Jefferson’s old stomping grounds.

Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter at @kevinscholla

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