Don't let passions turn to hatred
Recently, my nephew and I had the privilege of meeting John Roche at the South Carolina-Alabama game in Columbia. Roche was there to participate in a ceremony honoring 100 years of University of South Carolina basketball.
For those too young to remember, Roche was a three-time All-American, a two-time ACC Player of the Year and one of the most dominant athletes the league has ever seen. Roche led an outstanding Gamecock roster assembled by legendary coach Frank McGuire that some consider the greatest team in the history of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball. They were as quick-tempered as they were talented, and they refused to be intimidated by the ACC powers -- especially the North Carolina schools. In 1970, they were undefeated in the ACC, ranked No. 1 in the nation, and seemed destined to dethrone UCLA as national champions until Roche injured his ankle in the conference tournament. Roche recovered to guide USC to the tournament title the following year, and the Fighting Gamecocks left the ACC as champions. However, by then, Roche was so weary of the abuse he suffered from rival ACC schools, he was eager to put his college career behind him. Older South Carolina fans are still haunted by bittersweet memories of those days.
Although South Carolina left the ACC, their rivalry with Clemson continued and grew to be one of the most intense in collegiate sports. At times, it has become so heated that it has bordered on hatred, as has been demonstrated in letters on this very page. However, John Roche's visit reminded me of two very special moments in the history of this great rivalry that Clemson and Carolina fans alike should remember.
During his career at USC, John Roche never lost to Clemson. However, in Roche's final game against Clemson, the Tigers put up a valiant effort. Clemson appeared close to upsetting heavily-favored Carolina until Roche rallied Gamecocks and led them to another victory. As the dejected Clemson coach was leaving the court, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to find himself face-to-face with John Roche. Roche expressed his admiration for how hard the Tigers had always played against him. He then extended his hand and said, "It would have been an honor to have played for you, sir." For a moment, the Clemson coach stared at his nemesis in stunned silence. Then, as his eyes filled with tears, the Tiger coach shook the Gamecock player's hand and said, "That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me."
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being passionate about the Clemson Tigers or the South Carolina Gamecocks. But you do not have to hate one in order to love the other. Even the fiercest rivals can still be respectful. As final scores fade from the memories of both Tigers and Gamecocks, it is character that will be remembered.
No-smoking areas just don't work
In response to Stephen Guyton's recent letter, he claims that there is nothing wrong with having separate smoking and nonsmoking areas in restaurants. Well, this is probably true for people who smoke. It is not true for people who do not smoke. Mr Guyton probably thinks it is just fine to designate a non-peeing area in a swimming pool.
It doesn't make any difference if there is a separate air-conditioning system in a dining area because the smoke and the smell of the smoke is still detectable throughout the room. Many restaurants have a half wall separating the two areas, like they think smoke can read a non-smoking area sign. It can't!
I was a smoker for 10 years myself. I know how nice it is to have a cigarette after a good meal. I stopped smoking 32 years ago, and for all those years, I have struggled to breathe while trying to eat while other people like Mr. Guyton enjoyed their cigarette.
Mr. Guyton and others who smoke just do not understand. It really does bother people who do not smoke. Maybe if nonsmokers started playing electric guitars (whether or not they know how) while they are in restaurants, in the guitar section of course, Mr Guyton would get the picture.
Let all soldiers have a beer
I want to express my support for a bill currently under consideration, and hope that the state lawmakers vote to pass this long overdue legislation.
The bill would allow underage members of the U.S. military to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the state, upon presentation of their military ID.
I feel that a soldier, having made the decision to defend his or her country's values, should be recognized as being able to make responsible decisions while at home. Demonstrating the capability to use critical thinking skills in the armed forces should merit the right to use this capability in one's own personal life as well. It has always been flawed in my opinion, to tell an adult of 18, 19, or 20 years of age, that it's OK for them to carry a weapon, but your country will not allow you to have a beer.
Robert J. Daly