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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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At Least For A Few Months, Goodbye ACC Network

Today marks a milestone for Virginia Tech fans, as a source of considerable aggravation will disappear for at least a few months.

That’s because today’s game with Wake Forest at 4 PM marks the last time during the regular season the Hokies will be on the Atlantic Coast Conference Network (ACCN). Wednesday’s game with Louisville is set to be televised on ESPN2, and the regular-season finale at N.C. State is going to be aired on a regional sports network, which in this market will be the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)

The very early rounds of the ACC Tournament that include play-in games will be on the ACC Network, but the Hokies don’t plan to be in any of those games. The remainder of the tournament will be on regional networks or ESPN.

So goodbye Spurtle. Goodbye Tac Light, Tac Shaver and Tac whatever product they’re selling this week. No more ACC Network until football season for me.

To say that the network has been a thorn in my side is an understatement. The league started in 2019 with the expectation everyone would carry it, but they violated one of the cardinal rules of sales: always get some sort of buy-in from the 800-pound gorilla of the customer ranks before launching. Give it away if you have to, but get the Goliath signed up, then squeeze the smaller players to make up for it. The big guy’s presence creates market pressures that force the smaller players to sign on.

The ACC, in its infinite wisdom, chose not to do that, as cable television’s Incredible Hulk – Comcast/Xfinity – didn’t add the channel. The ACC, believing they had the same market strength as the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference, launched any way, believing there would be an uproar from customers who would simply complain and whine the cable provider into compliance.

Comcast. Did. Not. Care.

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Recent comment in this post
Lee Whitlow

Hit the nail on the head!

I was a Comcast/Xfinity customer for years and was very satisfied with the cable network. When they did not get ACCN, I cut the ca... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2021 14:06
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This Story Was So Good, Friends Woke Me Up To Read It

It is rare that I sleep in these days, but while peacefully dreaming of being on a sandy beach somewhere, my phone made the sound of a text arriving, waking me up.

It was from Doug Doughty, asking if I had seen Andy Bitter’s mailbag story in The Athletic. No, I said, but now that I’m awake, I’ll go look at it, because you wouldn’t have texted if it wasn’t good. Moments later, another friend sent virtually the same text.

It was as good as advertised, and it touched on subjects I think about often in regard to Virginia Tech’s football program. One, as you would expect, involved the most often-asked question of the year for VT football: Is Justin Fuente the right man for the job? But this time it was prefaced with Darryl Tapp’s huge praise for Fuente versus the somewhat grumpy guy the public tends to see more often, and wondering where the disconnect was.

This situation, and how Virginia Tech has handled this, is something I wonder about all the time. When the Hokies hire a coach, I will - like everybody else - judge that coach on wins and losses. But I’m also blessed with a number of friends who are just ordinary Joes in Blacksburg, and I will usually call a few just to see if that coach is a good person. Blacksburg is such a small town, it's tough to pretend to be something you're not. The real you will be seen sooner than later.

Within 24 hours of Mike Young being hired as the basketball coach, for example, I was hearing “you’re really going to like him” from people I respected. I didn’t like the hire at first, but the comments were so strong on what a good person, leader and teacher he was, I had to switch to a wait and see attitude before arriving at my current “I couldn’t have been more wrong” stance.

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Recent comment in this post
Dave Fulton

PR Person's Place

Thanks for pointing out the value of a good PR person steering coaches and others around icebergs. I always had a sense of warmth ... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2021 07:16
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This Is Your Brain; This Is Your Brain On Social Media

If you got into a time machine and went back to the 1980s, you’d see a number of public service announcements that television stations would run dealing with drug use.

The most famous one, which has been mocked and meme’d to death, was the one where some guy holds up an egg, says “this is your brain,” then points to a very hot cast iron skillet and says that’s drugs. He then cracks the egg into the pan, it sizzles and pops as it instantly becomes a sunny side up egg, and he says “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

While that one got most of the attention, there was another dealing with marijuana. A Dad has just found some paraphernalia in his son’s room indicating he’d been smoking pot, and he’s confronting him with it. In the course of the conversation, he asks “who taught you to do this?”

The son looks right into his Dad’s eyes and says “you did, Dad,” strongly implying the Dad also smoked pot, and the son learned only from watching his example.

Fast forward to this weekend, when a video went viral involving a young man heckling Cam Newton at a football camp, where Cam was volunteering his time. The youngster kept yelling “you’re a free agent,” at Newton, who just smiled and responded “I’m rich.” The young man kept on, eventually saying “you about to be poor.”

There’s no doubt it was rude, the kid was looking for attention, and if it was my kid, we’d be having what we call in the South a “Come To Jesus” meeting immediately. Athletes, parents and other observers around the country quickly and rightfully denounced the young man’s behavior, and it seems just about everyone called it a failure of the parents.

That may be true, although if you’ve been a parent, you know you can work hard and long on teaching your children the difference between right and wrong, and still have something like that happen. So, until I know more, I’m not dumping all this exclusively on the parents. The kid knew what was going on, he had teammates and coaches around him, and nobody tried to stop him. Plus, someone had a phone capturing it all, as if there was some anticipation of getting this out on social media and making the young man a star.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Accountable

I hope my dear departed parents are never blamed for the stupid things I did. They taught me better and I knew better.
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:29
Dave Scarangella

I will confess there have been...

where I've seen a young man treating a young woman harshly and thought "man, your Dad did a poor job of teaching you how to be a m... Read More
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:43
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A Beautiful Story With A Happy Ending You Need To Read

There once was a time in my life where I worked for a large corporation called Landmark Communications. They owned the newspaper I worked for (the Roanoke Times) but also owned my hometown paper (Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star) and the Greensboro News & Record, where I would eventually live some time in the future for 14 years.

They also would eventually own a little cable channel called The Weather Channel.

Because of this, I used to read these newspapers regularly. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the guy at the desk next to me in Roanoke 40-plus years ago has now written a couple of stories for the site, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If Doug keeps this up, I may have to roll up my sleeves and go find some revenue to entice him to stay around (this is a not-so-subtle hint about the “donate” button now up in the menu).

I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a site with two old guys talking about Virginia Tech and Virginia with pics of sinful food and Maggie the WonderBeagle (and if you think I’m bad about my love of dogs, Doug has me beat on that front too). I’ve even changed the header on the site from “Sports, Life and Anything Else Interesting In Ashburn” to “Sports, Life and Anything Else Interesting In The State.”

I call this “the Doughty effect.”

Those habits of reading other Landmark newspapers back in the day became a lifelong habit, and in the course of doing so I became aware of the columnist for the Norfolk paper named Kerry Dougherty. She is a wonderful writer with strong opinions, a decided love for the football and basketball programs at Ole Miss and UVA, and the kind of person you never have to wonder where you stand with. She will tell you.

Kind of like me and Doughty. I one day would like to have a podcast episode with all three of us and see if anyone can get a word in edgewise.

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Doug Doughty Talks About Us On Greg Roberts Show

Around 6 PM tonight, I started getting emails, texts and even a phone call from old friends in the Roanoke Valley. 

They all had the same message: I'm in my car listening to Greg Roberts on the radio and Doug Doughty is talking about you and your site.

Greg does his shows not only for radio, but has live webcams capturing all of it, and when the show is over, he has the video and audio of it available for on demand on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GregRobertsLive. So of course after hearing all of this, I had to do two things: (1) Since the show is on Facebook and I took down the dullesdistrict.com Facebook page two years ago, I had to scramble around and get it back up. If you'd like to follow us or like us on Facebook, just go to https://www.facebook.com/dullesdistrictcom. It's the website address without the "dot."

Second, I had to find the video and watch it. I really enjoyed hearing Greg ask Doug about his contract, his marching orders, and if he was told to write about anything specific. Here's what I told him, Greg: "Write about any daggone thing you want to write about, any time you want to." Today was really cool to see Doug's byline and mine on the same page for the first time since early 1981, and I'd love to see it a few more times. And like our conversations back then in the big building on Campbell Avenue, I was talking about Virginia Tech and he was talking about the University of Virginia.

I'm now embedding the video for all to see and watch. Doug's part starts around the 58 minute mark. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

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This Was One Goodbye Column I Did Not Want To Read

There has always been something special to me about the Roanoke Times.

Well, until now.

I say this because decades ago when dinosaurs roamed the planet, I worked my way through college writing about sports for various weeklies. A few months after graduating from Virginia Tech, however, I got the call that changed the arc of my life: The Roanoke Times morning paper and Roanoke World-News had combined into one all-day paper, and the former sports editor of the afternoon World News – Bob McLelland – had suffered a health issue.

He covered high school sports, and while he was recuperating, they needed someone immediately. After a few interviews, I was asked when can you start? I was working for my old friend Jerry Ratcliffe in Danville, and his response was “we’ll figure it out. Go now if you want.”

So I did.

Having just turned 22, I was pretty fired up. I was going to be working for a big daily, and in the same department as many of the writers whose stories I had studied over the years every morning when I picked up the paper.

I drove down Campbell Avenue that first day, walked in the front doors and was told to take the elevators to the third floor. There I met the people whose bylines I had read so often, finally putting a name with a face. I was assigned a desk right near a 26-year-old guy by the name of Doug Doughty, along with others like Jack Bogaczyk, Steve Waid, Dennis Latta and wonderful editors like Rick Maas, Newton Spencer, Tony Stamus and of course the big guy, Bill Brill.

These are the people who taught me to write, and by example, taught me how to be a professional.

I also met someone else that day, the lady in personnel who tells you about all your benefits, makes you sign all the papers so you’ll get paid, and gives you the employee handbook you’re suppose to look at every now and then. Her name was Debbie.

We’ll have been married 40 years in March.

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You (Can't Be Let) Go, Dan Kolko

When it comes to making decisions about broadcast announcers for professional sports teams in the Washington area, it would seem the majority of owners of these teams are absolutely clueless.

They just don’t understand the bond fans end up having with these announcers. They are the voice you heard that told you everything would be all right when the team was going through a tough streak. They are the voices you rejoice with when the team has a huge win.

They are part of the experience, and to many, part of the family when they turn on the television and watch a game. You can't help but notice when the games are on network television, as it just seems strange without the locals. Those national guys don’t know what the local guys know, they act like they’ve discovered the theory of relativity when someone passes on a tidbit of information on the team, and they quickly become annoying.

Despite this bond, Washington owners seem to view them as interchangeable parts that no one will notice. What the Wizards did in jettisoning long-time announcers Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier was awful. Because of their consistent mediocrity, I had lost interest in the Wizards and the NBA, but still watched for years because Buck and Phil were like a comfortable old sweatshirt. They weren’t going to lie to you, but they weren’t going to be blatant homers. They understood the high points and heartbreak of previous season, and sometimes said things just as you were thinking the same.

But then the Wizards decided to make a change for change’s sake. Buck and Phil wanted to be back, but the team went younger and cheaper. My old friends were gone, replaced by two strangers.

I haven’t watched the Wizards since.

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No Bob, It's About More Than Disney Stock And NFL Football

Today, the details are leaking out involving the layoffs at ESPN. While the network prefaced its initial remarks about the majority being non on-air talent, common sense indicated there would be some big names who would not have their contracts renewed.

If you’re going to do it to save money, it accomplishes little laying off the folks who run errands and get coffee for everyone. Older and higher paid people are always the first to go no matter what the industry.

That’s what is happening now, and I’m sorry to see it happen. I’ve seen it in a lot of industries and even experienced it myself. You wake up one morning and find out it’s apparently illegal to be good at what you do, but over 50 and make a good salary. The fact that you did a great job is irrelevant.

But then I saw a tweet from Bob Ley, a long-time ESPN personality who is very well respected. He said “trying to remain objective and unemotional as I learn of the ESPN members laid off today. Not possible. Not as I see countless decades of journalist experience, and expertise jettisoned. Just when we need it most. Enjoy the DIS stock price and your NFL football.”

While sympathetic, Ley might as well have held up a sign that says “I don’t get it.”

I’d argue that when it comes to sports journalism, the kind being practiced now is needed less than ever. There was a time before every event known to man was televised that you needed an experienced set of eyes on ears at games to not only tell you what happened, but put it all in perspective.

Was it a bench clearing brawl that was completely unwarranted, or were there more subtle things going on? Was it a bad pass by the QB or did the receiver run the wrong route? Was it a foul that cost the home team the game, or was that just an excuse for some other failure in strategy or execution? Was the loss caused by poor coaching or poor recruiting that resulted in less talented players?

Now, however, you get to see every play of every game complete with multiple replays from every angle. You don’t need to be told what happened, you can watch it for yourself and make up your own mind. You can look up all the statistics and watch past games to determine a trend. You can watch the post-game press conferences and hear the answers straight from the coaches’ mouths without anything thing being edited, truncated or otherwise put in a particular context.

You can even express that opinion to the world via a blog, podcast or other self-published entity. Many are doing just that.

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Since Everyone Else Has A Podcast, Why Not Us Too?

One of the things I’ve wanted for us to do here at DullesDistrict.com is to get into the habit of a weekly podcast. Thought it would just be a natural extension of our writing, and with advances in technology so that interviews can be done with others remotely without sacrificing sound quality, should be a fun thing to do.

So because social media has lost its mind with what’s going on with the election, I decided to take a few hours away from all that and set one up via the good people at Anchor. It can be listened to on their site, and can also be heard via Spotify. As we use the interlocking DD as our logo, it’s name was stolen from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” only in this case, I’ve swapped DD for sea because it rhymed.

Plus I had no other idea what to call it.

So give it a listen. As I note in the podcast, you have to do a first one to get a start, then grow from there. If I learned anything from this first episode, it's that talking by yourself for 15 minutes is a bit more of an effort that sitting down and writing a 1,000 word story. This initial podcast talks a little about sports journalism and also looks at four key ACC Football games being played this weekend.

The link to Anchor is here. The link for Spotify is here. Within the week, we are hoping to have episodes added to Apple Podcasts so they can also be listened to and subscribed to there.

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Well, I Thought I Was Done With Twitter...

Well, I WAS done with Twitter.

But thanks to one Mr. Ricky LaBlue, I have temporarily reactivated the account. Allow me to explain why.

I think Ricky is a very good young writer, and he and I have had several conversations over the last two years about the art of writing. I have become a fan of his not only because he writes well, but also because you can tell him that one of his stories could have been worded a little differently and he doesn’t get offended. He views writing as a craft, much as I do, so it’s not surprising that despite our 118-year age difference, we get along well.

A few weeks ago he invited me to be on the Hokie Hangover podcast that he, Andrew Alix and Mike McDaniel do as part of the Sports Illustrated Allhokies.Com website. Twice the date he wanted to do the podcasts occurred at the same time it was 70 and sunny outside, so I was on the golf course. A third time, he actually had a big-time athlete agree to come on (Virginia Tech men’s basketball signee Joe Bamisile).

But Wednesday of this week, there was the perfect storm. It was raining outside, so my regular golf outing got postponed. And as it turned out, Ricky was down to the “has a pulse and can speak for at least 45 minutes” portion of his potential podcast guest list. So Wednesday night, I called in and we had a great conversation.

I will admit, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. If you added up the ages of the other three, they were pretty close to equaling mine alone. If Earnest Hemingway was still alive and writing, he’d have called it “The Old Man and the Three.” And sure enough, half my answers took everyone back to the 70s, 80s and 90s to provide some perspective for other eventual comments.

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If You Are Thinking About Registering Or Subscribing....

I got an email question about registering for the site a little while ago, so allow me to add a short blurb about how all this works.

The site has a lot of features that allow people to register and do all sorts of things, mainly because two years ago, an old friend decided to leave the friendly confines of the newspaper he worked for and wanted to strike out on his own. So I built him a site that allowed for paid subscriptions, an area for free stories, ads, the whole works. We were partners for four months, and at that point I gave him the site because while it was fun to build, I never expected to be part of the operation long term.

It was all based off the same basic architecture of this site, so as I’d add a feature to his, I added a feature to mine. But it's never been my intent to charge for anything, as I do all this for my own personal enjoyment, and nothing else. There is no fee to subscribe, just as there are no fees if I run an ad to help out a friend. The site has never charged a penny for anything in the 14-odd years it has existed in various forms.

So if you’d like to register, please do. It will make it easier when you comment, and your name and information will populate automatically. If you’d like to get email notifications, go ahead and subscribe, and the site should notify you when new content gets posted. I personally don’t do that with sites because if there’s a lot of content in one day, you’re going to get a bunch of emails. But if stuff is posted infrequently, it’s a nice tool to know when to check back. And if you have a business that could use a little extra exposure, if I've got room to run an ad, I'll be glad to help.

Just a word of warning: I haven’t turned any of this stuff on in two years, so when a couple people asked about registering and subscribing today, I probably messed up those accounts. I think that's now all  been fixed, but if you encounter any issues, just email me and we’ll figure this out together 😊

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

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