For Shame

Howards Rock_EIf you know me, you know how passionate I am about American football, especially college football.

If you don’t know me, let me tell you: I am a lover and avid fan of college football. My husband likes to tell people I’m like the little girl in the movie, Remember The Titans. She pretty much is the team’s little coach.

Yesterday I learned that it had been confirmed that someone had defaced Howard’s Rock. (The article I am linking to was written by Heather Dinich, ACC blogger.)

As a Clemson alum, I am sickened and saddened that this has happened. Here is the background on the Tigers’ great tradition of rubbing the rock before running down the hill, as written by Heather:

“The Tigers began the tradition of running down the Hill, which sits above the east end zone, in 1942. The tradition began because of necessity more than anything else. The shortest walk from the team’s dressing room in Fike Fieldhouse to the stadium was to walk down Williamson Road and enter a gate underneath, where the stadium’s large scoreboard now stands.

Legend has it that in either 1964 or 1965, S.C. Jones, a Clemson alumnus, made a trip to California. While driving through Death Valley, he stopped and picked up a large, white flint rock. Earlier, Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillan had described Clemson’s Memorial Stadium as “Death Valley,” because that’s where his teams annually went to die. Tigers coach Frank Howard began using the same moniker to describe his home field soon thereafter.

Jones brought the rock back to Clemson and presented it to Howard. The rock sat in Howard’s office for a couple of years. While cleaning out his office before the 1966 season, Howard saw the rock and told Gene Willimon, executive secretary of the school’s booster club, to “take this rock and throw it over the fence, or out in the ditch … do something with it, but get it out of my office!”

Instead, Willimon arranged for the rock to be put on a pedestal at the top of the hill above the east end zone. It was unveiled on Sept. 24, 1966, when Clemson played Virginia. The Tigers were trailing by 18 points with 17 minutes left and came back to win 40-35. Rubbing the rock and running down the hill has become one of the most recognized pregame traditions in college football. It began on Sept. 23, 1967, when Clemson beat Wake Forest 23-6. Before running down the hill that day, Coach Howard told his players, “If you’re going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you’re not, keep your filthy hands off of it.”

Just as I was saddened by the poisoning of  the iconic Toomer’s Corner oak trees at Auburn, this act of vandalism is another example of disrespect for other teams’ traditions.

Hey, I love rivalries. They’re fun and yes, they add to the passion of the game. Yet these days, people are taking things too far, and I’m just talking about sports rivalries for this particular post.

And no, this is not the first time Clemson has been a victim, nor has Clemson always been innocent. However, killing trees, for example, is just taking it too far.

Let me be clear, I am no newbie when it comes to college football rivalries. I grew up going to Florida Gator games with my dad. I am a seasoned veteran of the FL/FSU, FL/GA, FL/Miami, and FSU/Miami rivalries. I graduated from Clemson and have experienced the Clemson/GA games, CU/USC and Bowden Bowl rivalries.

When I shared the news of the vandalism of Howard’s Rock with my daughter, who is seven, she drew the picture you see in this post. That really saddened me.

Rivalries are good and fun, but now things are going too far with what used to be “pranks”. We shouldn’t need a seven-year-old to draw us a picture to figure this out.

What has happened to good sportsmanship?

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Susan Cellura is a marketing communications professional with over 20 years of experience. She is a dynamic communications professional and enthusiastic team-builder, with a progressive history of success in designing and implementing communications programs for global organizations. A strategic thinker with the ability to understand the needs of multiple audiences and deliver solutions, Susan is a results-oriented problem-solver with exceptional interpersonal and negotiation abilities. Having worked in a variety of global industries, she has grown business communications in her current position via a strong mixture of strategic resources, including social media.

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