I’ve always said it’s a crazy world.
While our country is in the grip of a pandemic that seems to be spiraling out of control and our nation has just finished a very contentious election process, Anderson Countians — a lot, not all — seem to be focused on the 2021 football schedule.
The Clinton High School Dragons will not schedule the Anderson County High School Mavericks in football next season — which means the two schools will not play the following year, either.
I have wrestled with this since first hearing the news two weeks ago.
I have actually lost sleep over this — my mind trying to find the right phrasing, the right sentiment.
After reading Collins Riggs’ story for this edition of The Courier News I gained a little more perspective.
I’ve been around a long time — a really long time — and after a while you start to notice things, to pick up little bits of atmospheric fluff and white noise about events.
Yeah, I lay awake at night because of atmospheric fluff. Terrible, terrible stuff.
The Anderson County vs. Clinton rivalry has a lot of atmospheric fluff. A lot of white noise.
Has this rivalry gotten toxic, as Clinton Head Football Coach Darell Keith claimed?
Is it really about community anymore?
Here’s the thing: I think the players like the game. I think the cheerleaders and band members enjoy it. These kids know each other away from school, attend church and summer camps together; some are related.
And honestly, two years ago I started to think about this rivalry. That’s when I first saw a “Dragon tears” t-shirt.
And, like Coach Keith, I thought, “Why would anyone do that?”
Is a game, even a rivalry, that important to do something to shame a teenager?
This game is a “money game.” The gate from each of these games, as I understand it, is mind-boggling.
Again, is that worth shaming a teenager?
And that kind of shaming takes the game out of being a community event and turns it into something a little darker and mean-spirited.
Is Clinton “chicken****?” I seriously doubt that.
But Clinton is not Anderson County. The Mavs have one of the best high school football programs in the state. I’ve been at this newspaper for 25 years and Anderson County has had two head coaches.
Clinton has had … I’ve lost count.
I think Coach Keith is a realist. He knows that right now Clinton cannot compete against Anderson County. The programs are on two different levels.
So, here’s some white noise for you: Let Clinton catch its breath from the annual shedding of “tears.” Let Coach Keith get his program where he wants it to be. Admittedly, 2020 was nobody’s idea of a model season, but let him get the full measure of what he has to work with.
Anderson County has that. They have the program, the fans, the support.
Let Coach Keith establish that.
Is Anderson County a bit upset about this? I’m sure they are. They should be. They’re losing what’s usually a sure win and a large gate.
But Anderson County does what it always does: It adapts, moves on, takes a lemon and makes lemonade.
And it’s usually the best damned lemonade you’ll ever have.
This is not the end of the world, but it is a change.
During the Civil War, I read, that after numerous Union generals had been bested by Gen. Robert E. Lee, Lee commented he was afraid the Union would finally find a general who was as good as Lee was.
Well, Abraham Lincoln hired Grant, and Grant may not have been as good as Lee, but he knew how to beat him.
And maybe that’s what we’re seeing in Clinton right now.