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The fans that should be called out are the ones who have talked out of both sides of their mouth. The ones who built Stephen up and then are back to trashing him now. It's the Tiger Woods phenomenon on a much smaller scale. This is how the general public operates. They build someone up until they're bigger than life, and then take glee in tearing them back down as soon as the opportunity arises. I'm sure Stephen wishes he knew five years ago what he knows now, but that's not how life works. One day he'll look back and realize what a strong individual he's had to become due to his life experiences.
That said, I haven't read nearly the amount of trashing that a lot of people (and some players on the team, like Ace Sanders) are referring to. It's becoming a bit of a "straw man" argument, honestly. To some degree, they're creating the straw man who's bashing Stephen simply because it's expected that a lot of people will be saying those things after the latest slip up. And things do get said, but there's always the small minority of people way out on the periphery of the public opinion with any issue. You can't really give them any attention.
Sometimes I legitimately wonder if our athletes realize that not everybody speaking/giving opinions about them and their team is a USC fan. There are a lot of people (especially online) who are going to pose as Carolina fans and then trash the team. I ask our athletes to focus on fellow students and alums of USC when judging public reaction. We can't control every random jackass fan and media blowhard who just hangs onto the team when something's going well. The people who were always there for the team are the only ones who really matter anyway.
As an aside, I always felt Stephen should have teamed up with Justin King or some digital media students to create his own version of the old Charles Barkley Nike commercial (which LeBron James partially reprised). It would have been the perfect commercial for Gamecock football, although I'm sure it never would have been adopted by the athletic department. But I always think about it when I think of Stephen and his persona. I'll link it below.
This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by 09Gamecock on 10/12/2011 at 9:31 PM
Nike commercial featuring Charles Barkley.
Not all can be a Mike Roth. I am just thankful that some are.
can someone c&p...I'm having trouble getting the page to come up
Competing off the Field
Reading students’ and fans’ responses to Stephen Garcia’s dismissal was disheartening. At first, I wanted to defend Garcia and try to explain to students and fans what it is like to live under the watchful eye of the media and fans (some who are rooting against you). However, after I had written 300 words I realized that you can’t explain it. Only those who have experienced it would understand and those who haven’t, we just sound like a bunch of babies who don’t appreciate the things we are given. Next, I wanted to dispel the stereotype of athletes: We are stupid, only care about our sport, and take for granted the opportunities presented to us. It seems as if once a month there is an editorial in the Daily Gamecock where a student complains about athletes abusing the benefits we receive. But then I realized (however cliché it may sound) actions speak louder than words. Students look around you. There are athletes in your organic chemistry class, nursing class, and business class busting their tail. Finally, I felt the best option was to use Garcia’s situation as an example to current and future student athletes. Sure some of you may think it’s clear: don’t drink, key cars, etc. I believe it goes much farther than that. As a student athlete in Columbia we are put on a pedestal. One we can only embrace and accept. It isn’t easy but it’s the price we pay for playing for such a great university. With it comes the chance to leave a legacy here. Not just with the university but with the town of Columbia. This legacy doesn’t just depend on your performance on the field. Take Garcia for example. His performance on the field rivals any quarterback who has stepped on campus yet he will be remembered for his number of suspensions rather than his number of wins, yards, or touchdowns. Instead, look at Kip Bouknight, a pitcher for USC from 1998-2001. He is arguably the best pitcher to ever come through USC and after 8 years of professional baseball he returned to Columbia and was still embraced by fans. Or Terry Cousin who after 12 years of the NFL now works closely with the university in helping student athletes. As athletes we have the opportunity to define the legacy we leave behind. This doesn’t just end with our performance on the field but our performance off of it. I’m not asking you to be perfect. We are going to screw up but life is about learning from those mistakes. Don’t forget that for many fans you are only as good as your last performance. Let me repeat that. For many fans you are only as good as your last performance. Your level of play may come and go but your character can have a much greater impact. Leave a legacy that goes beyond the playing field. Baseball is something I do, not who I am.
Roth is the model of a student-athlete that gets it. Very well said by him.
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