It’s what I do…Posted: March 19, 2012
“This is one of the most competitive businesses there is. It’s my life. It’s my blood. It’s how I’m measured.” -Bill Parcels, 1986
I figure it’s best that I start with this quote from Bill Parcels, former NFL head coach. Why? Because it describes me and it describes how I feel about this crazy profession that I have chosen.
Why do I love this crazy world of fanfare so much? It’s simple really. I think I am so passionate about college sports because it brings people together in a way that few things do. I have heard the National Anthem played a million times at sporting events, but I still get chills when I hear 90,000 fans sing it in perfect harmony. I get goosebumps when I hear 2001 playing. When I hear the calls made by legendary broadcasters, I can’t help but get excited. “My God a freshman!” and “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky!” are calls that don’t happen anymore. I wasn’t around when Larry Munson made those calls for the boys in the silver britches, but hearing them now makes me appreciate what it was all about. It was about making sure that the people sitting at home knew exactly what was happening.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I love what I do. I am fortunate to be around players and coaches that bring so much excitement and joy to so many people. I love what I do because it’s more than a job to me. I am first and foremost a fan and realize just how lucky I am to be a part of something, even if it’s in the smallest way. When I worked at Elon, I worked 80 hours weeks and didn’t have time to think. To say that I was busy was the understatement of the century. I did get burnt out at times, but at the end of the day, I remembered that I got paid to watch football. I got paid to sit on the sidelines of some of the most historic college sports venues in the country. I saw three pointers made at the Dean Dome, I was able to see Coach K do what he does best, lead Duke to a win in front of the Cameron Crazies at Cameron Indoor. I have witnessed just how special these moments are to the people who fill the stands. And I got to do it all courtside. At the end of the day, I know that there are 1,000 people ready to take my job and would probably do it for free, just to see what it’s like.
There are people in the business that don’t see it like that, and I truly feel bad for them. I feel bad that they don’t understand how fortunate they are to be doing something so fun. The moment I start feeling that way is the moment I know that it’s time to find a new calling. Not solely because of me, but because I want to make sure that someone else gets to feel the excitement of 90,000 screaming people shaking the press box. Or what it sounds like to hear those same people sing their Alma Mater, some with tears in their eyes. Or what it’s like to be a part of something that makes so many people happy. I’m not saying that I call the plays that score winning touchdowns or that my job is even a 1/4 as important as that. My job is to let the fans read about the game. My job is to write the picture’s 1000 words. My job is to let fans read about the players that are leaving it all out on the field. My job is let people know about the walk-on who earned playing time after being on the scout team or the player who graduated a year early with a 4.00 GPA and stuck around because he didn’t want his playing days to end. And that’s just with football…
I said before that I am a fan first, which is what makes my job fun. I love my Alma Mater. You don’t understand, I LOVE South Carolina, probably more than is healthy. Heck, I have the Palmetto Tree and Crescent Moon in garnet and black tattooed on my shoulder.
You want proof? This was me on my wedding day…
I was in the stands for embarrassing losses and unbelievable victories. I watched every pitch, every hit, every single second of the first College World Series and was in tears when Whit Merrifield hit the single the right to score Scott Wingo from third and seal the win. I watched on the edge of my seat when South Carolina beat #1 Kentucky in basketball and saw the students handing dollars to the AD because they knew that the school just got fined for storming the court. My friends and I drove through the night to see the Gamecocks play in the NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden, only to turn around and drive back home. I stood, by myself, in my house screaming like an idiot when South Carolina beat #1 Alabama in football last year. I watched South Carolina take the field at the CWS for the second time in as many years and for the first time, maybe ever, I expected that team to win. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t by chance. South Carolina fought, clawed and scratched their way to its second title in as many years. I was a part of some of the absolute BEST moments in South Carolina history and the sounds of 2001 still gets me. Seeing now-NFL player Eric Norwood turn Erin Andrews around to sing the Alma Mater still is one of my top-5 sports moments. Why? Because it showed that people who go to that school, love that school. It shows that Gamecock fans are some of the best in the country. How many other places would sell out their stadium after a 0-21 streak? How many would celebrate at win over New Mexico State by bringing down the goal posts because it broke that streak? How many, win or lose, will always see the promise of “next year”?
I’m a fan first, and that’s the reason I love what I do. I know what it feels like to celebrate the wins and lament the losses. And since I’ve been on the other side, I know what it feels like to be at least a small part of something great, and it feels just as good, maybe better.