Perrspectives - Bringing light to Darkness

Two Cheers for Steve Spurrier

April 16, 2007

University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier generally doesn't appear on anyone's list of moral exemplars in sports. His sideline tantrums, raging at referees and brief but bombastic tenure with the Washington Redskins didn't endear him to many outside of Florida, the state where he made his name. But this weekend, Spurrier showed surprising courage - and class - in calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the grounds of the South Carolina state house.
While accepting a leadership award from City Year on Friday, Coach Spurrier spoke bluntly about the damage the CSA banner and its flag-waving adherents inflict of the image of South Carolina:

"My opinion is we don't need the Confederate flag at our Capitol. I don't really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there.
I realize I'm not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I've been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could get rid of it."

During an interview last year, Spurrier admitted being embarrassed by the display of the Confederate flag during an ESPN pre-game show. "Some clown or some dude," he fumed, "was waving that big ol' Confederate flag right behind them about the whole time they were on." Acknowledging the strong feelings the flag engenders among many of his own supporters, Spurrier added Friday:

"If you had a relative who died in the Confederate war, maybe you'd feel very strongly about it, too. But that's history. If it represents something that angers people, then why do that?"

Not all of Spurrier's Gamecocks fans share his point of view. As the South Carolina paper "The State" reported:

Don Gordon is one of them. Gordon, a state officer with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Spurrier's call for the removal of the flag was "the moral equivalent of calling our ancestors 'nappy-headed hos'...As a USC graduate, I love Carolina football. But I'm not willing to give up my heritage for any football recruit or any football coach."

As the critical South Carolina presidential primary approaches, many White House hopefuls shrink from taking on the Palmetto State's Confederate flag issue. Rudy Giuliani recently termed the matter one for the state to decide, flip-flopping from his past of history of opposition to its public display. In 2000, supposed maverick John McCain similarly caved to Republican enthusiasts of the ante-bellum South during the primary, only to apologize later for his clear political cowardice. And for many of McCain's Republican allies, of course, waving the Confederate flag is an essential ingredient in their ongoing use of the race card.
But for one day on this one issue, Coach Steve Spurrier showed all those wannabe leaders that he's got game.

2 comments on “Two Cheers for Steve Spurrier”

  1. I gotta part company with you on Spurrier. I cheer for Tennessee, so I can never give him any kudos.

  2. I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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