EDITORIAL: Football fades, as soccer scores
Any football fans who love defense - those 10-7 games where the running backs get hammered and the wide receivers can’t catch anything because Justin Bethel is swooping in to break it all up. Anybody who loves that, is going to love soccer.
One hundred and eight minutes of - Nothing. No goals scored, then there’s overtime. Then, each team gets 5 kicks on goal. The goalie that saves the most - his team wins.
Presbyterian College’s goalie saves two.
High Point’s goalie saves one.
PC wins the Big South Conference Men’s Soccer Championship - and goes to The Big Dance. High Point has a better overall record, they stay home.
THAT is soccer. And the sports gods must be telling Clinton something because “THAT” is rising while football is falling. PC is seriously considering “de-emphasizing” football - it’s all part of a “strategic plan,” and it’s all been properly vetted. We will learn more about it before Christmas.
The same week that happens, the Blue Hose men are playing in the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s soccer national championship.
Also, the same week that happens, Clinton High’s Jack Snelgrove signs a National Letter of Intent with USC-Union to play soccer. Congratulations, Jack, you are joining a small army of Red Devils these past couple years to go on to college with the aim of becoming student-athletes. While it is difficult to fill that role in high school, it becomes even more challenging at the collegiate level. Then, it “weeds out” again at the professional level.
We are really proud of all our Red Devils who go on to college - our city also has a long, proud tradition of those who have gone on to become professionals. Jack’s signing is significant as it reflects the upsurge of Soccer In Clinton. There are the Red Devils, and Clinton CESA club program, along with the nearby Greenwood Toros. Soccer instruction has never been more abundant.
Football still thrives here, of course. The Little Red Devils promise to provide a strong base of instruction and Clinton Pride. Perhaps, if there is much more proper instruction everywhere, spearing and targeting can become a thing of the past, and the CTE/concussion crisis plaguing football at all levels can subside. That is the only way football will be saved, as more and more parents are opting out of the sport for their youngsters.
Soccer players get concussions, too. As do basketball players and lacrosse players. Baseball players, not so much, but there are other cultural dynamics at work in “America’s Past-time.” The truth is, football is really, really expensive. Soccer - by comparison - is cheap. It’s no wonder communities would embrace “foot-ball” as it is presented on the world stage.
But, Clinton? A soccer town? Not likely.
Unless ... football drains the resources from our local college, and we have no desire to fix our aging high school stadium. And, much larger Union County comes back into our high school region and, along with Newberry, forms a roadblock to Clinton ever again winning a region championship. And, the very young Blue Hose men’s soccer team remains together and wins another Big South championship, and then another. Football and basketball fade - soccer, baseball and tennis rise to the top.
Fans can’t help but notice, which teams are having success and which are not. Businesses, with their ad dollars, want to ride a winner.
America’s love for football will never really fade; and as the NFL proves, when one player goes down, another steps in. Until, “next man up” runs out of men; and women, of course, are not allowed in the boys’ club.
Our Saturdays, and Sundays-Thursdays, and Friday night lights are always going to have football. We may have to leave “the big time” for somebody else, but that’s pretty much Clinton’s story. A small, poor, overachieving railroad crossroads - what more could we expect.