I never thought I’d be quoting South Carolina Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier with approval. I don’t care one way or the other about the Gamecocks, but Spurrier was the coach of the hated Florida Gators for 11 years. He is, however, right about the Confederate battle flag and has been for many years. I’m not sure if current LSU Coach Les Miles even knows what it is. The quote comes from Dave Zirin’s blog, Edge Of Sports:
But maybe we wouldn’t have to re-litigate this question and that toxic symbol of racist terror would not be flying with government sanction if the state’s NCAA coaches had been heard. Legendary University of South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier, a man of the south with a drawl so thick it sounds like he has a mouth full of honey, said in April of 2007, “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.” The setting was an awards banquet and Spurrier “caught everyone by surprise” by speaking off the cuff about his disgust over a 2006 South Carolina-Tennessee game where in the background on national television at ESPN’s “GameDay,” he was appalled to see “some clown . . . waving that dang, damn Confederate flag behind the TV set. And it was embarrassing to me and I know embarrassing to our state.” Spurrier then said, “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.” Keep in mind, “the Ole’ Ball Coach didn’t say “put it in a museum.” He said “get rid of it.”
Yeah, I know it’s more like a paragraph. I love the whole dang, damn flag thang, which is surely how Spurrier would pronounce it.
I remain skeptical that the flag removal will actually happen since it requires a 2/3 vote of both houses of the legislature. That’s right, a super majority to remove a piece of cloth. I hope I’m wrong but in the end it’s just a symbol and the South Carolina lege will continue being a retrograde, right wing body. Confederate flag removal is more of a tactical retreat than anything else.
Despite my cynicism over this episode, I think it’s important to celebrate the unlikely heroes who have taken a stand in favor of common decency; even if it involves praising Steve Spurrier.