Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 29, 2015, 8:50 a.m.
Everyone’s perception is skewed by his (or her) perspective. A man sitting in the stands pays extra attention to his son, or the daughter of a friend, or the son of a man who owns the store where he “trades.”
Last night, when I walked into Willie Scott Gymnasium at Newberry High School, for a holiday tournament game matching the Clinton Red Devils against the Batesburg-Leesville Panthers, my first thought was, Are all the lights on?
Part of my job in reporting on such games is to snap some photos. All I really have to do is provide one that’s acceptable. Willie Scott Gymnasium required some extra effort. I have the type of digital cameras — two that are similar because, back during those hectic times on the NASCAR road, I misplaced one long enough to think I’d lost it — that work well taking photos of kids opening Christmas presents but are not up to the standards that professional photos require.
This is because I am not a professional photographer.
My knowledge of photography is a practical one. My very first sportswriting job required taking a few photos, so I’d stand on a sideline, snapping photos of a running back sweeping in the general direction of me, then letting the camera hang around my neck while I scratched out, on a notepad, 1-10-20, K. Jackson swp l +5 / 2-5-25 …
So, 34 years later, I’m back where I started. The process has been upgraded technologically, which doesn’t mean that I whisper sweet nothings in Siri’s ear and she takes care of everything. It means that I now tweet occasionally: @GoClinton, boys, 2:52 3Q, Johnston lay-in puts Clinton up, 37-28, over B-L.
While snapping photos, I sometimes scrawl tallies (field goal attempts, rebounds, turnovers) on the back of my left wrist, later to be added to the notes on the legal pad sitting idly at a seat behind the scorer’s table, or in the first row of the stands, depending on the width of said table and demand for its occupancy.
Then, of course, I lick my fingers and erase the ink on my hand, readying my makeshift, human (not virtual) chalkboard for the next game.
As Waylon and Willie sang, “Back to the basics of love …”
As long as I sat in NASCAR press boxes, for 20 years and approximately 500 races, never once did I scrawl tallies on my wrist. My racing stories would have been so much better!
I see lots of oddities watching high school games. I was away for so long that I was as likely to see Cesar Chavez High — on the south side of Phoenix, on Baseline Road, which I often traveled to and from the race track — play as the Red Devils. Over the years, I watched high school games occasionally, spur of the moment, saw the teams warming up as I drove by and decided not to. There were Magna Vista in Virginia, near Martinsville; Oxford in Alabama, near Talladega; and the Tivy Antlers in Texas, while I was working on a music book (True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed), several years before Johnny Manziel played there.
In basketball this year, already, I’ve watched one team commit 47 turnovers in a game and another shoot 7.7 percent from the field for a quarter. The latter team was Clinton last night, and the Red Devils shot over 50 percent in the second half and won, 57-49.
Then there was the time another team swished three out of 21 free-throw tries.
It’s still 2015. They’re not even playing the meat of the schedules yet. No telling what treasures await.
Last night I got to watch Jicosha Stewart, Bishop Cannon, QuaJae Wigfall, Jaquarius Hair, Tabius Butler, DreKobe Chandler, the Merritts (Montez and Jontavius), Mikal (Check the Spelling) Hartley, Tyheem Shepard and Zadrius Burgess take on familiar Red Devils such as Kiah Young, Tymori Tribble, Braeden Webb and Tyreke Watts.
I could win a spelling bee of ineligible words.
Here’s what I wrote about the ballgame: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22553-red-devils-advance-past-batesburg-leesville-57-49
The sports stories pay a few bills, but where I really make a living is in my novels. The current one is right here for a mere $3.49 to download. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes
If you like to read that old-fashioned paper — or, for matter, tally your hand with a ballpoint pen — my first two novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope — are among the offerings here, and they’re both available the good, old-fashioned way. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1
My fourth novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out early next year. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.
My fiction (as well as reviews and essays) is featured at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com.