For the second consecutive year, there will be no spring football game at Virginia Tech.
The school announced on Tuesday it was canceling the spring game due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Athletic director Whit Babcock issued a statement, per hokiesports.com.
Regrettably, given the current restrictions in place and out of concern for the health and well-being of our community, our student-athletes, and our fans, we have made the decision to not have a spring football game. We realize this is disappointing for many and certainly for our football team, but we believe that it is the proper decision for the Virginia Tech community and the town of Blacksburg. Additionally, we did not want to provide our fans with an experience which would be far less than they are accustomed to at Lane Stadium, including no tailgating. We certainly hope and expect this fall that they can enjoy our full gameday environment with Hokie Village, the Hokie Walk, the Marching Virginians, the Corps of Cadets, the VT Spirit Squads, tailgating, and more. The final element of conducting a spring game that proved problematic was determining an equitable way to allocate the very limited amount of tickets we would have been permitted to issue. With the limit at 1,000, it would have been limited to guests of student-athletes and would not have provided an opportunity for many fans to come to Lane Stadium anyway.
Look, it makes sense. While many states have eased restrictions over the last several weeks, having a full house at Lane Stadium right now may not be the right decision.
The problem with this decision is Virginia Tech badly handled yet another situation where it could engender some goodwill with a frustrated and disillusioned fanbase.
Why not have some version of a spring game where you stream it live on either social media or Hokie Sports? This would go over well with Virginia Tech fans. If you wanted to make a little bit of money for the Hokie Club, charge a minimal fee to watch the spring game. It would work.
Again, this athletic department missed the boat.
Blame Babcock, blame Justin Fuente, but overall this is a time where fans want more access, more content coming directly from the team. Sure, the generic interviews in Cassell Coliseum are a nice touch. That’s a start. But fans want action. Why not give it to them? Is this administration that tone-deaf?
Look, no one is asking for the football program to stream every practice. But why not the spring game? The Hokies could have easily still held some version of a spring game and gave fans access to watch, even if it's 30 minutes or less.
The football program needs to take a page out of the basketball program’s book. Mike Young and Kenny Brooks have good teams, they are social media-savvy and engage the fans.
It’s time for the football program to do the same.