All the talk today has been about the Great Blizzard of ’14. For those unfamiliar, it’s the one-inch snow dusting that has captivated the state of South Carolina’s attention. It provoked the governor to preemptively declare a state of emergency (North Carolina did this also) and produced one of the purest snows I’ve ever seen in South Carolina.
Seriously, it is beautiful—like snow flurries from a movie.
As per usual in the south, there has been massive widespread panic as if the apocalypse were imminent. No stores have milk or bread at the moment, and people forget how to drive at the very mention of the words “snow”, “ice”, or “sleet”.
While those of us who reside in the affected areas respond accordingly, a collective “LOL” rings out from two groups of people in my social media universe. One group is Clemson students or alumni who are originally from the north, and the other is Clemson alumni who now live in the north.
The simple truth about this snowstorm is that it’s really not a storm at all. There is virtually no danger. It is tame, like a rain shower in the middle of summer. Yet, because it never happens, there is an overreaction that makes it seem worse than it actually is.
While I considered this today, I had an epiphany: Suppose we treated the success of Clemson athletics like a snowstorm. How would we respond?
For Clemson football, we treat success like the people immune to cold and snow and ice. Someone told me about a recent trip to Boston in which half a foot of snow was approached with a business-as-usual attitude. The expectations are high for Clemson football, so winning games comes as no surprise.
It certainly might shock some observers to see Clemson mentioned among the nation’s elite, but it does not shock us. We see winning as a minimal requirement. Winning pretty is the goal.
For Clemson baseball, the feeling is the same, albeit with a slight caveat. Given the scholarship restrictions and the difficulty of competing in college baseball on a consistent basis in the current climate, success is treated more like there is ice on the sidewalk. We tread lightly, with the knowledge that all is well until we hit that slick patch. Even people who live in areas where snow is always present have to watch out for that one place when balance goes out the window.
Expectations are still high with Clemson baseball, but the win-every-game dynamic doesn’t exist. Instead, we hope to avoid injury and stay away from long losing streaks. Winning most series is a realistic goal, one that gives some leeway for the team to slip and fall. At the end of the day, no matter how many awkward moments there are, arriving safely at the final destination—Omaha—is all that matters.
Clemson basketball is the one that should be easiest. We approach success in hoops like we approach our snow—as an aberration, a rare point in history that should be remembered as such. We feel that every big win is a monumental feat, forgetting the big picture in which there are a plethora of other places where success is consistently bigger and better.
Beating a Duke or a North Carolina on a given day is a humongous deal. Finishing in the thick of the ACC race is considered a reason to shut down all business. Being in the national conversation is a rarity on par with building an actual snowman.
(NOTE: There is not enough snow on the ground to build an actual snowman. Building a snowman requires more than an inch of snow. If you suggest building a snowman, you may be desperate and are most definitely from the south.)
So, to recap: We treat Clemson football like people used to snow treat any random snowfall. We treat Clemson baseball like an ice storm that doesn’t shut down business but makes us carefully navigate the sidewalk. We treat Clemson basketball the same way we treat the mere threat of wintry weather in the south.
I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this, because I’m sure I’m not speaking for everybody out there. On this day where South Carolina was turned upside down before a single flake fell, this seems like a good way to occupy restless minds.