Philadelphia, PA -- At the Wachovia Center on Saturday afternoon a raucous chant echoed through the rafters during the NCAA men's basketball tournament second-round matchup between the Villanova Wildcats and UCLA Bruins. Initially, both television analysts and in-house fans were confused by what exactly the student section was shouting.
For fans unfamiliar with Los Angeles and the southern California climate--some east coasters, perhaps--the chant from Villanova fans may have never made sense.
With Villanova up 38-19 late in the first half a barely audible chant began to spread through the arena. As the chant became more organized it was clear that a designated portion of the student section (and some alumni too) were shouting a question and the arena's collective 'Nova fans were providing an answer.
"It took me a couple of minutes to determine what they were saying and until after halftime to get the meaning," said Jerry Wydnum, a sportswriter covering the game for the New York Post-Dispatch. "The first part was 'Can UCLA?' and all the Wildcat fans would respond, 'Not through all that smog.'"
The contest in south Philadelphia was practically a home game for Villanova as only 15 miles separate the arena and the university. The crowd overwhelmingly supported the Main Line school.
"I was like, 'Can UCLA what? Why aren't they completing the question,' said Wydnum. "I know LA has lots of smog, but what was going on? What was happening?"
Wydnum, the other fans and the television analysts finally got it. The question 'Can UCLA?' translates into 'Can You See LA?'. The chant was taking a shot at Los Angeles' famous smoke and fog choked air, primarily caused by automobile exhaust.
"It was crazy down there," said Villanova fan Scott Dempster, a senior from Masquananook, NY, talking about section 107 in the arena. "[The students] got the chant started and it just spread through the arena. You have to admit that LA is pretty smoggy. I'm not a science major so I'm not exactly sure what two elements make up smog."
Some 'Nova fans reported seeing hundreds of UCLA backers willingly participate in the chant.
"I saw Ed and Charles O'Bannon on the JumboTron cheering and shouting, 'Not through all that smog,'" said Dempster. "Really! The O'Bannon brothers."