20 for 20: Choking the Chicken (Curse)

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In the 20 years that I’ve been watching sports, I could probably find about 34962 things that really stood out to me (Hey there, LeBron James!). However, since themes are cooler, I will turn them into twenty. Here’s the first of 20 sports moments (sincce 1990 that have made me the psycho sports fan that I am today. Cue the music!

This is not a sight that people are used to seeing. Well, people who like the Gamecocks, that is.

As fate would have it, I’m a fan of teams that usually disappoint when it matters the most (does the phrase “14 consecutive division titles, but only one World Series championship” mean anything to you?). Amongst the Braves, Panthers, Bobcats, Chargers (Nate Kaeding, le sigh.) and Gamecocks, I could have shed enough tears to fill an ocean. Alas, I’m a man, I’m 40! so I don’t cry (over sports). Either way, plenty of disappointment to go around.

The Gamecocks have seemingly been able to create so much disappointment to the point that my other teams could win titles every year, and I would still be depressed when even thinking about the Gamecocks. There have been many theories, from the Chicken Curse (check number 3 on this page) to the Confederate flag curse (this is somewhat verbatim from a guy at my barber shop: “South Carolina won’t win a DAMN THANG TIL THEY TAKE THAT FUCKIN FLAG OFF THE STATE HOUSE GROUNDS.”). It’s not like the school has had only mediocre players (Alex English, Justin Smoak, Landon Powell, George Rogers, Sterling Sharpe, Dunta Robinson, Demetrius Summers to name a few) and coaches (OK, so Sparky Woods may not wake up the echoes. I get that!). Of course, I can wax poetic about the “rabid fan base,” but that really doesn’t explain the long line of disappointing finishes. How disappointing? Like this:

  • In consecutive years as a 2 (1997) and 3 seed (98) (respectively) in the NCAA basketball tournament, the Gamecocks lost in the first round to Coppin State (a 15 seed) and Richmond (14 seed).
  • An undefeated 1984 Gamecock football team lost the next to last game of the season…at home. To Navy.
  • On the road against top ranked Florida, South Carolina has two field goals and an extra point blocked to lose…by one point.

I could continue to go on, but I may or may not break my laptop. The letdowns above made the championship over UCLA that much more amazing. I didn’t really keep up with Gamecock baseball (save for one regular season game back in April) throughout the season, and after losing the first game to Oklahoma in the College World Series, I didn’t really like our chances. Then, um, they won every game after that.

I was on my way home from work when Scott Wingo got on base in the 11th. I was hoping that I could actually get home in time to see the winning run score. Well, Whit Merrifield had other plans. Once his hit dropped in the outfield, (allowing Wingo to score) I let out a scream that The Lady described as “the scream the alien let out when it was killed by the Predator.” (What can I say, I got a little excited). I then came home to go a little crazy on Facebook, (this file is safe, I promise) did a little more yelling, and watched the highlights from the game about 46 times. It was just hard to belive that South Carolina had been able to finally break through.

Of course, the celebration was not done. I’m thinking that if they had the “Cock Rally” at Williams-Brice Stadium, it would have been filled. My own estimate of the crowd at the Colonial Life Arena

This is really the only part of the alma mater that people know.

was about 7 million, but I could be wrong. Nobody cared that they were showing the game again, they still went crazy once Scott Wingo crossed home plate to win the championship. There was even more yelling once the team finally made it to the arena. There was also a cheesy parade, and the Gamecock flag waved at the top of the State house for a little while (take THAT, Sons of the Confederacy!). It proves that no matter what, people like winners. And it also means that people can’t just chuckle when I mention that I attended the University of South Carolina. Well, they still can. But I can now throw this championship out as something to, uh, stand on. And it also gives me a great start to 20 for 20!

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