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South Carolina is a World Unto its Own – Let It Rip

Saturday, September 29, 2007

South Carolina is a world unto its own. The outside world just doesn’t understand why people are the way they are in South Carolina.

What have I learned? Here’s a few realizations I’ve had along the way:

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Don’t Tread On Me: Never have I seen a populace so enraged by anything foisted upon them by powers beyond the state border. The NCAA’s postseason ban comes rapidly to mind. What I’ve noticed is most South Carolinians just are not bothered by the Confederate Battle Flag’s presence on Statehouse grounds. That goes for blacks as well as whites. However, I still don’t understand why the flag isn’t in a museum, rather than displayed on Gervais Street.

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College Football R Us: I think after five years, I can safely say USC fans are more passionate than Clemson fans. That’s good and bad. When things are going swell at USC, people can barely get their work done. When things are going bad, I have to imagine the Blue Flu wrecks business around the state. Clemson fans seem more pragmatic. They take everything in context, which I suppose is the reason Tommy Bowden has lasted so long. Maybe the 10th year will be a charm up Tigers way.

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Sleeping Giant: This state is native soil for Joe Frazier, one of the greatest boxers of all-time. As evidenced Friday night at Jamil Temple, the state is beginning to live up to its famous past. WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams is from Aiken. He was in the crowd for Friday’s Fall Brawl II. There, he saw rising heavyweight Moultrie Witherspoon (pictured at right) improve to 12-0 in his young professional career. For his part, Moultrie was a touch disappointed in Friday’s unanimous decision win against Jason Waller. He’s also feeling the pressure from fans for not being a knockout artist. Fact is, when you have a reach as long as Witherspoon’s there’s not need to bother with knockouts. If Mooch is in the ring with someone who brings the noise, then you’ll see him retaliate with the big guns. Otherwise, if a boxer is stupid enough to want to go the distance with him, Mooch can simply outpoint to schmoo. Boxing’s on the rise, folks.

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The Kid Can Drive: Jordan Anderson is a lock as South Carolina’s next great NASCAR talent. It’s been a while. A long while. Anderson e-mailed me this week telling me of his recent progress. He has an entire 45-student class at USC working on his marketing. He has friends in high places and, most importantly, he just flat-out knows how to drive. Shortly after our story on him in August, Anderson ripped off a long winning streak that has him poised to contend for the National crown this month at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Baseball History: This state has one of the richest baseball histories in the country, from Textile Mill ball to the Negro Leagues to The Show. It’s been my extreme pleasure to have done stories on each. A shameless plug here: I’m currently working on a book about the life of Chino Smith, a Negro League player from Darlington County who could have been one of the greatest players of all time if he hadn’t been felled by cancer at age 31. If you remember my original story back in 2006, Chino’s story has been distorted and incorrectly reported over the years. Among the greatest errors were the belief that he was from Greenwood and that he died of Yellow Fever. My co-author, Tom Perry, and I hope to have the book to the publisher some time in early 2008.

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Carolina Pride: It has become quite clear there is an age-related dichotomy among the NFL fan base in South Carolina. The youngest generation is clearly, overwhelmingly, Panther fans. Every other generation is most decidedly not. Every time we run a feature on the Panthers in the paper, we here from annoyed Falcons or Redskins fans. I think what we have here is a classic issue facing newspapers in this new age. Those who buy our paper generally are older. Those who read our paper on line are generally younger. …

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… Which leads me to … Splits like this often leaves us inside the business rather confused about what our readers want. As the actual paper product inches its way toward extinction, all papers are focusing their efforts online. There still isn’t a better news-gathering agency than a newspaper anywhere. How many people work in sports at a television or radio station? Five or six at most? Here at The State, we’re able to throw a couple dozen folks in the field. That will always be the case. You might hear about a story on television or radio, but when you’re looking for in-depth information, you’ll always turn to the newspaper, web-site or otherwise. No one does it better. No one ever will. A good example of our accountability is in our daily corrections. How often have TV or radio reports been wildly inaccurate? How many times have you heard said outlets cop to their mistakes? When we’ve discovered an error, we report it. Until television and radio has that kind of accountability, they will remain simply an entertainment venue in the big picture.

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To Read the entire article from the blog of The State’s sportswriter, Patrick Obley, Click Here.

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