We curse thee Carolina and sing our dismay,
Heartbreaking loses haunting our days . . .
Wesley Moore, “A Parody of the USC’s Alma Mater”
Question 1 : Why did WM become a Gamecock?
A. he couldn’t break 1200 on the SAT
B. he had mediocre grades
C. his father was unemployed
D. USC had a journalism school
E. all of the above
F. none of the above
Question 2 : Why has WM squandered so many gorgeous autumn afternoons in darkened dens or benighted sports bars screaming imprecations at cathode tubes or hi-def screens?
A. because football is a ritualization of innate masculine territorial aggressiveness
B. because the South lost the Civil War
C. because he enjoys feeling sorry for himself as he whimpers in fetal position on floors littered with carelessly dropped popcorn
D. because the his school team, the Mighty Gamecocks, have enjoyed unparalleled success
E. A & B
F. B & C
Answers: 1. E 2. E
Actually, as a child, WM was a rabid Clemson fan, listened to the games on AM radios. No doubt, if he had been interested in engineering or horticulture, he would have matriculated to Clemson and continued to pull for the Tigers. Thus, the irrationality and absurdity of his banal haphazard tribal association with the University of South Carolina is not lost on him.
On the rare occasions that he has attended in person a Carolina football game, it has occurred to WM how little he has in common with the rest of the members of his frenzied atavistic tribe, a garnet and black sea of philistines: Trump supporters, used car dealers, evangelicals – in other words, typical South Carolinians. (Picture Jean-Paul Sartre at a Tupperware party).
Alienated at these events, he spends most of the games cringing at poor tackling and the viciousness of the invectives that pour from sub literate fans who have turned on the young men they had erst while cheered.
Many scholars have underscored the obvious: for Southerners of a certain age, male and female, college football is a compensation for the ignominy of the Civil War and its humiliating aftermath, Reconstruction.* Although it seems like ancient history to most folks now, I can remember two of my great-grandfathers and my maternal grandfather’s hateful reproaches regarding the cruelty of carpetbaggers.
The thinking (using the term loosely) goes like this: Because of under-industrialization, we lost the Wa-ah; otherwise, we would have whupped those pasty-faced, vowel clipping Yankees, the way we do every year in BCS bowl games.**
In fact, Konrad Lorenz went so far to say that team sports like football are a necessary evil, a way for testosterone-blinded cretins to channel their innate territorial aggressiveness. Otherwise, we might have Neighborhood Watch associations taking to the streets battling one another, blinding their enemies with flashlights, pummeling each other with pitching wedges.
Unfortunately (for WM, that is) rather than offering an antidote to the ignominy of hailing from a land of losers, pulling for the Gamecocks has doubled his legacy of losing. Add over a half-century of pulling for the Atlanta Braves, and you got losing to the third power, a river-of-tears breaching the levees of endurance.
*Of course, rationally speaking, in my relatively well-educated adulthood, I’m glad the Confederacy was vanquished, but when I picked up the college football habit in the early 60s, this was not the case.
** Thanks largely to that fact that more descendants of slaves dwell in these parts, but never mind that.
Why devote all this time and energy inside samsara’s swirling pit of baneful desire and disillusion?
Answer: search me.