Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, 10:30 a.m.
Life is back to normal. I’ve returned from my restorative road trip. Tuesday night found me back in my normal element, watching the Clinton Red Devils play and driving back home to dicker with photos and write a story about it.
A dichotomy exists between the basketball teams that represent the local high school. Both the boys and the girls have risen and fallen through the years. At the moment, the boys are on a hill, and the girls are in a valley. Both teams do their very best. Newberry paid a visit from 25 miles, mostly down I-26, and Clinton won the boys’ game, 68-60, and lost the girls’ game, 66-27.
A region sweep of the neighboring Bulldogs – Newberry won a holiday-tournament game in overtime – leaves the Clinton boys with 15 victories and three defeats, overall, and a perfect seven victories in as many tries in Region 3-3A, which Clinton and Newberry share with Woodruff, Mid-Carolina, Broome and Chapman. The girls are 4-14 and 1-6.
When I am on assignment, my wandering is restricted to the scorer’s table and the end zone for pictures. When I take pictures, I tally stats on the back of my left hand, then transfer them to a legal pad when I get back to my seat.
Here’s a helpful hint from the journalism pros: Don’t forget to scrub the ink off the wrist with spit. That way the slate is clean when the boys’ game starts.
So much for the notion that journalism is getting too antiseptic.
When I go to a game as a fan, I mingle all night. I good-naturedly jeer the refs. I try not to be harsh. I don’t jeer unless I really think it’s a bad call. Sometimes, I even say something to the person sitting next to me like, “You know, that probably was the right call.”
At the scorer’s table, it’s quite different. I must make use of my professional reserve. Also, there is too much to do. A good bit of the time, I pass messages from one scorekeeper to the other. Last night I chatted quite a bit with Al Webb, who keeps the clock. I also get amusement out of watching the repetitive interactions between the benches and the table.
I got two?
That’s right. Two.
How many they got?
They got one?
That’s right. One.
I think it’s required that every officiating crew have a stickler. During every timeout he comes over and delivers a small talk about how he likes everything to be.
Arrow pointing that way. It’s their ball, right?
Why hasn’t the arrow been reset?
I reset it when the other team in-bounds.
I like it if you reset it immediately.
It’s possible that it makes the people sitting at the table slightly more likely to notice when said referee misses a call, but, of course, it is the scorer’s table, so we don’t yell. We make snarky remarks under our breaths, and, in my business, while it is unprofessional to cheer for either team while occupied professionally, it is allowed and, in many places, encouraged, to exhibit several forms of humor.
In general, though, at the scorer’s table, the officials find friendly faces. The job is hard. The accolades are few. I was probably one or two off on the turnovers or something.
The whole scene at Clinton High is upbeat. The girls’ team has struggled, but it’s better than last year’s, and it’s won a region game, and Newberry (13-2, 8-0) is overwhelming. The Lady Bulldogs forced 25 turnovers and held the Lady Red Devils to two field goals in the first half. Still, Clinton keeps chugging away, doing its best. Great nobility resides in that.
Last night was the final regular-season home game, i.e., Senior Night. Both teams and the cheerleaders received the individual tribute of the crowd between the games.
Now Clinton’s aura of invincibility will be sorely tested. An early-season trip to Chapman was postponed by snow till next Tuesday. That means the Red Devils must venture to Broome on Friday, Woodruff on Tuesday, and Chapman on Wednesday. The home victories over Broome and Chapman were tense.
The Region 3 title is anything but wrapped up. Chapman is 12-4, 6-1, having lost only at Clinton earlier in the season.
Local sports provide intimacy that others do not. I spent 20 years writing about NASCAR, and never once did a famous driver scan my groceries at Ingles.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.
If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).