A New Year, a New Hope


by - Senior Writer -
A packed Death Valley is the hope for 2021.
A packed Death Valley is the hope for 2021.

A new year, a new hope.

I am not one of those people who makes New Year’s resolutions. I probably should try it sometime, but I find that life tends to get in the way of the best-laid plans and you simply go about your business and make each day count as best you can. When the calendar turned over to 2021, I found myself hoping that this year is more normal than 2020 in terms of sports. With everything happening in our country — no matter the side that you are on — sports can bring everyone together and can heal a lot of wounds.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has often said that football brings people from all corners together.

“Football is a great example to this country. Football unifies. Football brings people together,” Swinney said a few years ago. “I go to Death Valley and there are 85,000 people in those stands and they’re packed. And you know what? Monday through Friday, a lot of those people wouldn’t talk to each other because they’re different religions, they’re different colors, they live in different neighborhoods, they drive different cars, they have different bank accounts. But on Saturdays when the Tigers score, they’re hugging each other’s necks. They’re high-fiving’.

“I have brothers for life that I met in between the lines that when you put them helmets on, it doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter what religion you are. It’s a singleness of purpose and nothing brings people together like the game of football.”

Clemson held its annual Pro Day back on March 14th of 2020, and while it was just 10 months ago, it seems like 10 years. We all gathered outside of the indoor practice facility, waiting on players and Swinney to exit for interviews when phones started to ping – the ACC Basketball Tournament had been canceled, and we all knew that it was a harbinger of things to come. I’ve seen many of my colleagues on Zoom during these long 10 months, but most of them I haven’t seen in person.

Spring practice was soon canceled, baseball and softball were canceled, and we were left with a long, hot summer of equal parts angst and hope.

Now that hope takes on an even more urgent tone. Yes, I know we have six months until what I hope is the next ACC Football Kickoff, and we have seven months until the Tigers start fall practice. We are probably just six or seven weeks away from the start of spring practice, and while I can hope that things might be closer to normal, I know deep down that they won’t.

So I look to June and Swinney’s high school camps and can hope we can once again complain about the early summer rain and humidity and get in our 10,000 steps before 10 am while chugging water and Gatorade. What had seemed, at the time, to be tedious now sounds glorious. I can’t wait to walk the practice fields and scout out the next generation of talent.

I am also hopeful that we have spring sports and can once again hear the cheers of a great crowd at Doug Kingsmore Stadium or at Clemson Softball Stadium. Sitting either in the stands or the press box as a warm spring day turns into the cool of the night is something I will never take for granted.

But I also know that our best hope for normalcy lies in the late summer when our thoughts once again return to college football. I want to hear the roar of a packed stadium and experience the sights and sounds of packed tailgates under clear skies on a sun-dappled fall afternoon.

New Year’s resolutions? Probably not. But New Year’s hope for a better 2021 and the sports we love? Count me in.

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