I was sitting here debating whether or not to write something about the South Carolina Gamecocks basketball team, my alma mater, making to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. I was wondering if any of the readers of this blog may be interested in that content or understand it, and then I thought, it is my blog, I can write what I want.
When I went to college I majored with the intent of becoming a famous sports writer one day. Well about my junior year I realized how much newspaper writers getting out of college, so I started taking marketing and advertising classes. So here is my attempt, I guess, at being a sports writer after 35 years.
So let me state first off, I thought I would never in my lifetime say the words, “The South Carolina Gamecocks are going to the Sweet Sixteen”. It has been 44 years since the Gamecocks last won a NCAA tournament game much less two. 1973 was the last time the Gamecocks won a NCAA tournament game, when I was in high school, during the old Frank McGuire days.
So this year when the Gamecocks did their usual late season choke, I did not give them much of a chance. In fact, I did not even pick them in my NCAA BB bracket to win, I picked Marquette. But being a faithful Gamecock and alumni, and being 2,500 miles away, I still sat down to watch Thursday night here in my place in Mahahual.
The thing that was interesting, the Gamecocks were playing in my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, for the weekend tournament. So I got to watch them play in my home town, and I kept trying to catch people on TV that I might know. They would also show scenery of Greenville during the broadcasts, and I got to see places I could recognize, and not seen in almost eight years.
So Thursday night the Gamecocks beat Marquette, and looked good. It was the first win since 1973, so I did not get too excited, but it was a start after 44 years. So it was Duke versus South Carolina on Sunday night. The Gamecocks looked great the first game, but Duke, well lets just say is Duke, one of the great programs in college basketball history.
I was hopeful Sunday night, but not confident about the Gamecock’s chances. It has been a holiday weekend here, because today is a national holiday, and there were Mexican tourists here, and a bunch of young children running the halls. They don’t bother me much, they are on vacation, and this a hotel near the beach, so it comes with the territory.
So I am watching the game, and the Gamecocks are playing great, I have my window open, game on, and I keep yelling, “Yes”, when the Gamecocks scored. I also am constantly yelling at the screen during the game oblivious to what is going around me. It was a great game I was into it.
At halftime, I realized I needed some ice, so I kind of burst out of my room with my cooler to get some ice from the freezer on the roof here. As I did that I noticed 4 or 5 young Mexican boys sitting on a sofa in the lobby playing video games. They are about 8 or 9 years old, and their eyes got real big when they saw me come out of my room after yelling the last hour or so. They were looking at me like, “What is this crazy Gringo going to do now?”
I then stopped before I went up the stairs and told them in Spanish, “That I was watching my roosters play in a big basketball game in the United States, and that is why I was yelling and acting loco”. They just kind of looked me up and down and nodded. I got my ice, and went back to the game. The Gamecocks won in one the best basketball games I have ever seen, and I got to watch it in my little hotel on the Mexican Caribbean, in a village named Mahahual. One South Carolina Gamecock fan, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by Mayans and Mexicans watching his team finally make it to the Sweet Sixteen.
Thanks for reading, and Go Cocks,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina