QUITE A STIR is being made over the fact the University of South Carolina Gamecock football team has won as Coach Steve Spurrier aptly put it half of a championship.
But in South Carolina, were not used to getting even half a loaf very often. Thats why we celebrated so hard when the USC baseball team won the College World Series. In claiming the SEC East Division title Saturday with a smothering victory over the Florida Gators, the football team, while not eclipsing the baseball teams magnificent feat, did something Gamecock fans simply arent used to: It won a championship, the first since it claimed the ACC title in 1969. Itll get a chance to win the overall SEC title when it faces Auburn in Atlanta after the regular season.
While this is sports and we must keep it in proper perspective this unprecedented win represents a dramatic cultural and attitude shift for Gamecock football and Gamecock fans. A winning team, especially one followed so rabidly as this football squad, can have a positive, infectious effect on fans, a community and even a state. It can make people feel better about themselves and those around them.
The Gamecocks victory reflects a change in attitude for a program mired in mediocrity for decades upon decades. Despite the endless, loud cheers game after game, supporters never expected
big wins; they anticipated
letdowns, defeat and disappointment. For the past several years, Coach Spurrier has pushed for a change in culture and worked to get his football team to adopt a winning attitude.
The reason this is important is that the injured psyche long exhibited by our flagship universitys football program and its fans mirrored that of South Carolina itself. This state has long had a defeatist attitude, and its leaders and citizens have struggled to move forward, claiming much-needed wins. South Carolinians, waiting on state leaders to give us something to celebrate, have been left disappointed over and over. Unlike the coaches and players, our governor, lawmakers and other leaders deal with issues that lead to unacceptable losses if not handled appropriately. When they fumble the ball, lives, livelihoods and futures suffer. Until they realize were all on the same team and bring us together under one vision of getting a win we can all share in and celebrate, South Carolina will remain stranded at the rear in areas we would prefer to be first in.