Smoky but no smoking: UT bans butts in Neyland Stadium

The University of Tennessee announced this morning that smoking is now banned in Neyland Stadium, the football Holy of Holies on the Knoxville campus. No word yet on whether the Vol mascot, Smoky, will have to change his name. Entire departments of anthropologists could have careers interpreting the policies surrounding this sacred space over the years, so let’s have a little exegesis of the news release dropping this smoke bomb on the Vol faithful. First is a sentence from the release, then an explanation of what it really means.

“In compliance with a new state law passed this year that prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places, smoking will no longer be allowed inside the gates of the stadium.”

All right, y’all, let’s get this out in the open up front. We didn’t make this policy–those nitwits in Nashville did–so don’t blame us.

neylandstadium.jpg

“‘UT has gradually restricted smoking in the stadium over the last 10 years, and now the law requires the university to make the stadium completely smoke free,’ said Jeff Maples, senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration.”

We couldn’t get the UT president, the Knoxville campus chancellor, the head of the Athletic Department, or football coach Phil Fulmer to touch this issue with a ten-foot cigar, so we quoted the first guy to walk down the hall.

”’While I know non-smokers will see this as good news, I also know that this has a negative impact on our fans who smoke,’ said UT Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton.”

And we sincerely hope that those big-time smokers who are big-time donors will understand: I feel your pain. By the way, has anyone talked to you lately about our bequest program to benefit the Athletic Department?

“Over the past month we have spent a lot of time analyzing our venue and its constraints to make sure we are abiding by the new law to the best of our ability.”

Believe me, we tried every way in the world to duck this one, but you know how it is.

“Tennessee will become the fifth SEC school to ban smoking. Arkansas, Florida, LSU and South Carolina have already banned smoking in their stadiums.”

Anti-smoking happens to the best of us. We held out as long as we could, folks. I promise you, though, if anyone ever tries to ban fans from drinking Jack Daniels and Coke, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. Go Vols!

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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