To Be a Fan

Head coach Gregg Nibert is in the center. Nelson Jones is on the far right. (Monte Dutton)

Head coach Gregg Nibert is in the center. Nelson Jones is on the far right. (Monte Dutton)

Gotta an indie bookstore!

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

On the one hand, I enjoy going to ballgames, in part, because I’m trying to learn how to be a fan again. Most of a lifetime as a writer of sports trained me not to be a cheerer of sports. If I’m going as a fan, though, I should be a fan.

Last night I attended Presbyterian College’s men’s basketball game against Samford. The Bulldogs won, 81-71, largely as a result of many three-pointers (fourteen) and full-court pressure that the Blue Hose often found nettlesome. It wasn’t a clash of Titans. Samford improved to four and eight. PC declined to four and seven after leading at halftime, 34-33.

School is already out, which, as a practical matter, meant that the stands on the opposite side of Furman Pinson Arena — the epicenter of Ross E. Templeton Physical Education Center, in other words, the gym – were largely vacant. In fact, admission was free and will be, also, at the Blue Hose’ December 31 game against Big South foe Gardner-Webb. Getting in free made me feel a little guilty, so I felt it incumbent to at least support the program by visiting the concession stands. A box of popcorn and a sixteen-ounce Diet

That's the Furman Pinson Court. (Monte Dutton)

That’s the Furman Pinson Court. (Monte Dutton)

Pepsi cost me three bucks.

Not only is Presbyterian College the hometown school. Nelson Jones, the head trainer, and I once worked together at Furman. So did head coach Gregg Nibert, who was a Furman assistant when I was the sports information director. This was back in the eighties, when SIDs were men and stats were manual, with none of this tweeting that is required today. Back then, it was not uncommon for sports information directors to enjoy actual human contact.

I’m not one of those anymore. As mentioned earlier, I was trying to be a fan.

Like most fans, I rather enjoy sniping at the officials, and on a December evening with students gone, it’s quite possible the refs could hear my brickbats. I loudly proclaimed missed traveling violations – “He walked, he walked, he walked, ref!” – that have not been called sinc

As a fan, I'm not a natural.

As a fan, I’m not a natural.

e John Havlicek led the Celtics and Jerry West the Lakers. My trouble is that the complaints in which I feel pride are ones that strike nearby partisans as, well, weird. Even at a proud liberal-arts institution like PC, literary allusions are, if not frowned upon, at least considered, oh, a bit much.

So what if one of Samford’s forwards matched my image of Caleb Trask in East of Eden?

I tried to limit my criticisms to calls I actually considered bad. I lectured the zebras on my perception of “the pivot foot,” though, I suspect, if anyone needs remedial work on the rules, it is I. I even complimented them several times on good calls, though I knew better than to extend these rave reviews to calls that went against the Blue Hose. Alas, at fifty-six, I still respond to peer pressure.

The team lost. It was still an entertaining game. I tried to cheer and jeer in a way that was enjoyable, even relaxing, a blowing off of steam, a relief of pressure. Besides, I remembered to take my blood-pressure pills.

Take a look at my short fiction, available at, and it would be super if you’d buy one or two or all of my books at:




About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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2 Responses to To Be a Fan

  1. Dave Fulton says:

    Back in the 60s we always enjoyed “getting on” the late Lou Bello who passed in 1991. Lou, in most folks’ opinion, was the most colorful individual to ever officiate a basketball or football game. It was not unusual for Lou to address a fan’s opinion – always with a broad smile.

    In the mid-90s I was eating with my younger daughter, an NC State student, at a restaurant in Raleigh across from the State campus. On the wall above our booth was a plaque dedicating the booth to Bello. How often have you seen anything dedicated to a sports official?

    For those who never had the pleasure of watching Lou Bello officiate, a reading of his obituary in the Raleigh News & Observer provides some insight into those wonderful 1960s days of seeing him keep the peace in ACC arenas.

  2. Monte says:

    I remember him. He was often in the press rooms at ACC games, though i never saw him officiate. Just heard many stories.

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