Archive for category Columns

My Brain on NASCAR: The People’s Champion

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

There’s a giant billboard currently on display at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) proclaiming that “Chase Elliott is the People’s Champion.”

This creative – and largely unsubstantiated, based on the fact that Elliott has won zero NASCAR Cup Series races to date — piece of advertising is the track’s response to a heated post-race exchange between Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville on Oct 29. Hamlin wrecked Elliott from the lead with two laps remaining, earning the ire of fans and allowing Kyle Busch to claim the checkered flag and a guaranteed spot in the championship final four in the process.

That was quite the triple whammy. Good job, Hamlin.

While fans were probably still trying to exit Martinsville’s parking lots after the race, TMS went to work, taking advantage of this fledgling rivalry. Despite the events at the historic track nicknamed “the Paper Clip,” Hamlin and Elliott remained in the top eight and are still eligible to win the championship. Cue the fireworks; things are only going to get better from here.

TMS’ decision to fan the competitive flames by bestowing the somewhat grandiose “People’s Champion” title on Elliott, in addition to being a fantastic case of deliberate pot-stirring, is really kind of brilliant on a number of levels. Hamlin has earned the reputation of being rather volatile during his racing career, so I’m guessing that seeing his much less experienced competitor being so highly touted isn’t sitting very well.

And Elliott, while wildly popular with fans, still has a lot to prove on the track … winning a race would be a good place to start. Duh.

Taking advantage of controversy to drive ticket sales is hardly a new strategy. Almost two decades ago, the late Jim Hunter, who then served as president of Darlington Raceway, took masterful advantage of what could have been a discouraging situation for a track promoter. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Mercy is the result of humility

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It’s easy to be suspicious and though it’s wrong, unfortunately it’s common to judge unfairly and display negative emotions toward others. If we could only remember that many people are going through some type of painful trial and difficulty which usually explains their unusual behavior. I am regularly involved with those who are struggling with serious problems and it changes your perspective when you know the circumstances. As Christians we are called to be a light that represents the nature of Jesus and this includes patience, mercy, long-suffering, forgiveness, and love. This is so that everyone can see Christ within us and hopefully inspire them to learn more about who He is. When we act ugly and rude, we are actually turning others away from the message of grace that we proclaim is the spiritual compass the lost world desperately needs. You have probably noticed that people around you are carefully observing your every move which by the way is having a direct impact on what they think about you and God. It’s true, how we live reveals much more about us than even what we say.

It would be wonderful if we could know what is going on within the lives of those all around us but most of the time we can hardly deal with our own problems. I published a book last year called “A lifestyle of worship” that is about developing a spiritual awareness of God’s presence and how this discernment can drastically change the way we see life. I am convinced we will not grow in our compassion for people until we draw nearer to God. It only makes sense the closer we are to Him the more concern we will have for others. When I’m focused and trying to do God’s will, I am more humble and have no desire to judge others. It’s when we are distant from Him and filled with arrogance that we gravitate toward negative and critical reactions. Rick Warren is quoted, “God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living On Purpose: Fond memories with my Grandparents

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

An older man was telling a story the other day about his grandparents and it caused me to think back to when I was a kid and the relationship I had with my mamaw and papaw. Now that I’m older, I realize that grandparents look forward to spoiling their grandchildren and are usually just as excited. When I was growing up, my dad and his dad worked together in their own construction business and every so often in the summer, my papaw would take me home with him. Sometimes, I would stay for a whole week and those adventures were some of my most cherished childhood memories. On the way to the country, it was not uncommon for me to become car sick because the roads were so curvy, but hanging my head out the window did bring some relief. When we arrived, I would feel weak and my grandmother would say I looked as white as a sheet, but with her administering every remedy she could think of, it didn’t take long for me to recover. You see, I was the first child and the first grandchild, so with being the center of attention you could say I was a little spoiled. They were always squeezing me and kissing me so much that I could hardly breathe, but it’s a good feeling to know you are loved.

To a boy of seven or eight years old, houses and yards seem huge, but have you noticed when you grow up how everything seems to shrink? I drove by a few years ago and hardly recognized the place. It was so tiny and even the land which seemed like a vast plantation to me back then was actually more like five acres. As a kid, their house looked beautiful to me but it was really just an old farmhouse that my papaw had tried to patch and piece together. The front yard seemed as big as a football field and I remember one day my papaw wanted to see if he could beat me in a foot race from the driveway to the garden. I can still feel the hot summer air against my face while out of the corner of my eye I could see his bare feet flying past me. I slowed down and started laughing as I knew he was not feeling well. He had a debilitating kidney disease and I discovered later that even though he did not say anything that day, the overexertion caused him a lot of pain and we never did that again. He did it because he loved me and just wanted to play and have some fun with me. In behind the house, the yard steeply dropped off into what many people call a holler, and if you were willing to climb down a steep cliff, you would find yourself on the bank of the Kentucky river. Across the road were fields of tall grass as far as you could see sprinkled with patches of large trees and if you were real quiet sometimes you could hear them majestically sway in the wind along with the lonely sound of a cawing crow. Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Simply Awesome

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Like different types of music, conversations can have their own distinctive rhythm.

I learned this from experience. In any given verbal exchange, the moment the other person knows you have an affiliation with NASCAR – no matter how small — the same two things invariably happen.

First comes the inevitable driver question. There’s a small amount of wiggle room on this one, but ninety-nine percent of the time this blank is filled in with, “Do you know Dale Jr.?”

The next level in this two-step process has a bit more verbal Spandex, stretching to fit the speaker’s dimensions. Usually it’s a suggestion. You know it’s coming, because it’s always prefaced by the query, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?”

I don’t know that, actually, but folks don’t mind one bit offering their opinions to help me figure it out. They have informed me that NASCAR should remove all road courses from the schedule; do away with the current scoring system in favor of “the guy with the most points at the end of the season is the champion, just like the old days” system; throw all the restrictor plates into a box and sell them off for scrap metal; and ban Kyle Busch from racing. In any series. Ever.

There is something to be said for consistency. If you’re forced to address something on a regular basis, it can turn anyone, regardless of age or gender, into a Boy Scout: always prepared.

The problem with thinking that you’re “always” anything, though, is that you never really are. So a couple of days ago, when someone asked me, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?” I mentally readied my defense of road course racing and said, “Nope. Tell me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Learning to read our heavenly blueprint

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I recently spent an afternoon with a young man as he was sharing about his search for personal direction. In his attempt to discover what type of life God wants for him, he’s hoping that he will eventually find happiness and contentment. I truly respect anyone (especially a teenager) that is trying to do the right thing and willing to invest the time it takes to search until they find it. I remember a few years ago reading about another young man named Guiseppe, who was also trying to find his place in the world. His parents had come to America from Sicily and his father was from a long line of fisherman (no pun intended). His father was very proud and considered it an honor to carry on this profession and he expected all of his sons to continue just as all the generations before. The problem was that even though he wanted to please his father, the Sea and the smells of dead fish made Guiseppe nauseated. Instead of this type of work, he had a passion to play sports. Sadly, throughout his teenage years, his father was very disappointed and constantly declared Guiseppe was lazy and would grow up to be good-for- nothing. Nevertheless, in spite of the emotional hurt and pain, he continued with his vision and surprisingly ended up more successful than anyone in his family could have ever dreamed. You may have heard of him, his full name was Guiseppe Joe Dimaggio.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The SV Talladega

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

On Sunday, October 15, NASCAR Cup Series racing will return to Talladega, and we’re already wondering what will happen this time around.

It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg is a great cinematic tease, a master of the slow build, giving audiences little glimpses and hints of a monster before finally hitting them with the thing all at once.

In the classic thriller Jaws, audiences didn’t get the full effect of the terrifying (well, it was terrifying for the 1970s, anyhow) shark until well into the film, when our unlikely trio of hunters — police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled World War II vet Quint (Robert Shaw) — least expected it.

The mixture of shock, humor and dread that followed encapsulated everything that’s great about the movie, and Scheider played it perfectly, famously ad-libbing the oft-quoted line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” without dropping his cigarette.

Nobody told NASCAR founder and CEO Bill France Sr. that he needed a bigger racetrack, but he was determined to build one anyway. His masterpiece, Daytona International Speedway (DIS), was going like gangbusters and had inspired the construction of several new speedways, effectively pushing traditional dirt tracks aside in favor of bigger, faster and more lucrative venues.

But DIS didn’t quite satisfy Mr. France. He had a “go west, young man” type of vision: to make NASCAR a national sport with a racing schedule that stretched from coast to coast. He wanted a bigger, faster racetrack, and in 1968, ground was officially broken on Talladega Superspeedway, now widely considered NASCAR’s biggest, fastest and most dangerous track.

The project had its issues, of course. The land was located smack in the middle of nowhere, and the two-lane country roads one took to get there were, let’s just say … rustic.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Long South Carolina, How Long….?

Phil Noble

EDITOR’S NOTE: MR. NOBLE ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR ON OCT. 10. THIS WILL BE MR. NOBLE’S LAST COLUMN UNTIL THE ELECTION IS OVER OR HE WITHDRAWS HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR.

By Phil Noble

In 1934, Gov. Ibra Blackwood signed legislation to create the South Carolina Public Service Authority that become known as Santee Cooper. This state-owned enterprise grew to become the state’s largest power producer serving all 46 counties in the state. Thanks to a special law passed by the legislature in 2007 that essentially eliminated all financial risk, Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas tried to build two nuclear reactors at a cost of $9 billion.

Today, the project is dead – mired in scandal and corruption. Estimates are the failed project will cost the average South Carolina family of four $9,000 that they will be paying for 60 years. The disgraced president of Santee Cooper (a state employee) left with a $16 million golden parachute and the five senior executives of SCE&G paid themselves $21 million in ‘performance bonuses’ during the time the project was failing.

How long South Carolina, how long must we wait for honest power companies that fairly serve the people of South Carolina and not themselves – and an honest and independent legislature that we want, need and deserve?

In 1993, 39 largely rural school districts in what became known as the Corridor of Shame, filed suit seeking to have the courts rule that their students were being denied an adequate education and asked the courts to mandate that the legislature provided a reasonable education. In 2014 – 21 years later – the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the students were not receiving a ‘minimally adequate’ education and mandated that the state legislature enact measures to remedy the inequities.

Today, three years after the court’s ruling, the legislature has done virtually nothing and recently U.S. News and World Report ranked South Carolina’s schools the worst of any of the 50 states.

How long South Carolina, how long must our children wait to receive the type of education they want, need and deserve?  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Choosing to give our stress to God

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

It may seem insensitive, but the idea of stress being an issue we can control is worth considering. Many within the medical world agree that stress is not a monster that forces us to be afraid but rather our worries originate as a response from within our own mind. Thus, if we can learn how to re-wire the way we think, we can begin to walk in victory over the stress which we blame for ruining our happiness. In some way or another, we have heard about going to our “happy place” a seemingly magical location where we can take shelter from whatever is threatening our security. But just what is this well-intentioned advice really talking about? It can mean different things to different people but to many, it’s a place in the deepest part of our conscience where we can commune with God and embrace the safety and joy of His presence. I remember a movie where a young girl was experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks whenever a stressful situation would present itself. Her family would lovingly remind her to go to her happy place, and she would close her eyes and begin to control her breathing. As she blocked out what was happening around her and focused on comforting thoughts, she would eventually calm down and return to a peaceful state of being. As Christians, we are reminded that Jesus is a type of strong tower where those who are afraid can run into Him and be safe. Psalm 91:1 says, “They who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in Him will I trust.” If we stop and think, we realize that everyone has a choice to either emotionally wrestle with their problems or immediately give them over to God and let Him take care of them. If you notice when we become entangled with these external circumstances and allow them to hold us in the bondage of stress, we are consumed with hopelessness and can hardly focus on anything else. However, when we embrace God’s truth by faith and allow Him to carry them for us, our confidence is renewed as we press forward in the freedom of His peace which passes all understanding.  Read the rest of this entry »

NASCAR presents … Snark Tank

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

It’s October, and only seven races remain in NASCAR’s playoffs. (On a side note, I’m still stymied regarding the reason why NASCAR changed the name of its post-season competition. The Chase was a pretty cool moniker, once you got used to it. The Playoffs, well, that name is just done to death.)

Anyhow, yet another random act of tweeting during the race weekend at Dover reminded me once again of one of my favorite things about NASCAR: When the going gets tough, the tough get snarky.

Although stock car racing has seen its share of physical altercations over the years – Cale Yarborough vs. the Allisons is always the first and best one that comes to mind – in recent years most of the competitors seem content to engage in wars of words rather than the harsher, and more painful, alternative.

Let’s take Kurt Busch and Jimmy Spencer, for example. It’s common knowledge that these two were never the best of buddies, but after an on-track incident in 2002 at The Brickyard, when Spencer wrecked Busch, taking him out of the race, Kurt expressed the opinion that Spencer was nothing but a “decrepit old has-been.” He later softened up and changed his mind, deciding instead that Spencer was actually a “never-was.” Ouch.

Another great (and by great I mean silly) incident was the verbal scuffle between Boris Said and Greg Biffle at Watkins Glen in 2011. Said felt that Biffle was racing him too aggressively for someone who was multiple laps down. Things got testy after the race when Boris really got out of line, going on a verbal tirade that included calling The Biff an “unprofessional little scaredy-cat” and “a chump.”

Wow. Call the censors. Language that salty simply can’t be tolerated on national television. There are kids watching.  Read the rest of this entry »

Corruption is Crippling South Carolina

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

The ever deepening and broadening corruption scandal that is unfolding daily across the front pages of newspapers is crippling our state.

It is crippling us in ways big and small – seen and unseen.

It does not have to be this way.

Let’s begin with an ever so brief summary of the scandals by putting things in two different but interrelated (slop) buckets: the legislature and the utilities.

First the legislature. We see daily how the legislature has kept all the money and all the power in the Statehouse where they can auction it off to the highest bidder. By all accounts, the biggest auctioneer is Richard Quinn and Associates and his legislator son, Rick Quinn, who keep a generous cut of the auction price for themselves.

The folks on the ‘selling’ side are Quinn’s clients who include: Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Joe Wilson, Attorney General Alan Wilson, Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Superintendent to Education Molly Spearman, Pres. Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell, and more than three dozen members of the legislature and other elected politicians in our state’s Congressional Delegation in Washington.

On the ‘buying’ side are those that benefit from the favorable actions of the politicians and include: South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee Cooper (more on them later), The State Ports Authority, University of South Carolina, S.C. Trial Lawyers Association, a variety of health care companies and dozens of others.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: The way we think defines who we are

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When we talk about life being filled with possibilities, we usually imagine someone stepping into our situation and helping us achieve our goals. It’s easy to fall into the habit of hoping that another person will provide what we need or figure out the solutions to our problems. True, there are times when we can depend on the generosity of others but God has given each of us a sound mind and unlimited potential if we can only learn how to activate these internal resources. A common spiritual principal is to pray and wait, and there is validity in that process, but I have also learned through the years that many times God is actually waiting on us to take the initiative to press forward. When we place our trust in Him and allow Him to change our attitudes into a positive force, that which seems unattainable moves into the area of possibility. Romans 12:2 points out that we have a responsibility to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in order that we may prove and demonstrate God’s perfect will. We must allow the Lord to change our mind from fear to faith as learning to believe is the basic foundation for success. If we focus on being the best we can be, good things will come but if we expect the worse, we release the powers of negativity that can diminish our joy and hope. With every situation we can respond with a positive confidence or a negative skepticism and these mental choices will always determine whether we live in spiritual peace or emotional misery.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Tom Reichert

By Dr. Tom Reichert, Dean of the USC College of Information and Communications

Fake news. It’s a phrase that became the most memorable takeaway from Election 2016 and the political hangover that still resonates today. It should come as no surprise that Oxford Dictionaries proclaimed the 2016 word of the year to be “post-truth,” an appropriate adjective for an era in which some news consumers are less concerned with whether or not something is true than they are with how it makes them feel.

Like buzzwords, the term “fake news” has been tossed around indiscriminately. No one is immune from the accusation. Even rigorously investigated stories from The New York Times and The Washington Post have been labeled outright falsehoods by consumers who’d prefer news that confirms their own biases. But fake news does not originate from newspapers. In reality, it’s often generated by companies looking for an easy profit, pushed out through social media newsfeeds and fanned by extremists and foreign governments.

While fake news isn’t a new phenomenon – just look at the political forward emails that made the rounds 20 years ago – America’s shift toward online news sources has made consumers susceptible to dangerous misinformation. A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that more than 60 percent of U.S. adults get news from social media. That trend might seem innocuous, but when one news story can go viral and ignite a cultural movement in a matter of minutes, truth matters.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult for consumers to differentiate between what’s true and what’s not. Compounding the problem are politicians and other powerful figures who seek to discredit honest journalism. Regardless, newspapers are not the ones peddling fake news. Open a local or national newspaper and what you see is the product of trained journalists bringing you carefully sourced stories about crime, government, business, sports and issues of public interest. These stories impact our lives. Most journalists are trained at universities and programs like our School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. For 94 years, we have been teaching students to write, make sense of data, interview, and dig deep to hold those with our public trust accountable. The only agenda our students and alumni possess is a passion for the profession and a sense of service for our country.  Read the rest of this entry »

For South Carolina and Democrats, Crisis is Opportunity

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble and Roy Willey

In the Chinese language, the symbol is the same for crisis and opportunity. For both the state of South Carolina and for the Democratic Party – this truly is a time of both crisis and opportunity.

First our state’s crisis. Anyone who reads a newspaper knows our state is at the beginning of a political corruption and ethics crisis the likes of which we have not seen in a generation. And, add to this the huge related $9 billion nuclear scandal with SCANA, Santee Cooper and the Legislature.

There is not enough space in this column (or dozens of columns) to detail what’s happening, but it’s bad and deep. This corruption is a disease, it’s infectious and it’s spreading across our state. It is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

So far, the scandal has seen the indictment and/or conviction of Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, former Majority Leaders of the House Jim Merrill and Rick Quinn and Senator John Courson. Perhaps dozens of others are lying awake at night with the cold sweats. There will surely be many more indictments to come and the questions of their guilt or innocence will be played out in the media for months and years to come.

Next, the Democrats’ crisis. It is no exaggeration to say that the Democratic Party in South Carolina is on life support. A Democrat has not won a majority in a statewide election since 2006. Democrats have lost seven of the last eight governors races and the last win was in 1998. Since 2000, the Republicans have had a majority in the both the state house and senate, and since 2004 Republicans have held both US Senate seats and all but one of the Congressional seats.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Protecting our spiritual sensitivity

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

A couple of months ago, we brought a new English Bulldog puppy into our home and he has been such a wonderful addition to our family. When we bought him, they told us he was 8 weeks old, but after finally receiving his papers from the breeder, we noticed he was actually only 6 weeks old at the time. He was a healthy bruiser and we would laugh at him stumbling and being uncoordinated, but now we realize it was just because he was such a young baby. We would sit on the front porch in the evenings and watch him investigate around the front yard. He was so happy as he would roll around in the grass and explore his new surroundings, but when he would hear a loud commotion or a noisy car passing by, it would scare him and he would come running to us. After a while, he gradually became more used to the traffic sounds and lawn mowers and eventually it did not bother him at all. As I was spending time with him one evening, it dawned on me that our conscience is also sensitive to what we see, hear, and think about and how each of us can choose to remain tender-hearted or we can become calloused and indifferent. When we are confronted with sin, maybe we should consider running to God for protection.

When we consider our spiritual life, we have been called to guard and protect our conscience from the darkness of iniquity. A huge part of accepting Jesus as the Lord of our life is to respect His holiness and for us likewise to attempt to live a pure life. You see, the idea is that God hates anything that resembles sin and we are also to feel the same way no matter how tempting and desirable it may seem. Unfortunately, many individuals are convinced this concept is old fashioned and not really that important. Have you noticed lately that people in general do not want to hear about self-discipline or messages that contain topics about changing the way we think and live? In our defense, we consider this intrusion as meddling and no one’s business, including our creator. The Bible defines this as conviction which are the uncomfortable feelings that we feel whenever we know we are doing something wrong but love it too much to stop. I can relate to this daily battle because I struggle just like everyone else. Our old human nature is opposed to virtuous living and is always willing to fight for its independence.  Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina’s Nuclear Scandal, ‘Legal’ Bribery and Silence

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

With each new revelation, our state’s ongoing scandal of SCANA, Santee Cooper and their political dealing is providing new insights into how thoroughly corrupt our state’s political system has become.

What we are learning is really disgusting – and it’s getting worse.

With the Watergate scandal, we learned that the best way to uncover and understand a political scandal is to ‘follow the money.’

When we follow the money in our state’s utilities scandal, we find that Gov. McMaster, the Legislature and our Congressional Delegation are essentially wholly owned subsidiaries of the utilities. The utilities have ‘bought’ the support or silence of these politicians who are supposed to be looking out for the people’s interest.

This week, The State did a devastating story that followed the money. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • SCANA has donated at least $1.25 million to S.C. lawmakers and statewide candidates since 2000.
  • Other contributions — almost $80,000 — went to legislators on a committee that names the members of a state board that regulates SCANA.
  • Still other contributions — more than $90,000 — went to 31 of the 32 legislators now trying to unravel how the plan to add two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville failed.
  • SCANA’s contributions skyrocketed by almost 300 percent — to $110,000 — in the year before state lawmakers passed the 2007 law that allowed the utility to charge its customers in advance for the Fairfield County reactors.
  • In June, SCANA and its subsidiaries, political action committees and employees showered the state’s chief executive (Gov. Henry McMaster) with at least $115,000 in donations. It is the most the company has given to one candidate in at least two decades, records show, driving speculation the company was trying to buy political cover.
  • Since 2009, SCANA has spent $1.5 million on Statehouse lobbyists, employing from eight to 10 in any given year.
  • SCANA has given money to more than 320 state candidates since 2000.
  • Those donations include more than $1 million since 2006, the year before S.C. lawmakers passed the utility-friendly Base Load Review Act.
  • Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, the Edgefield Republican who co-chairs the Senate panel investigating the V.C. Summer debacle, has received $7,300 since 2006. Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, the Lexington Democrat who co-chairs than panel, got $6,250.
  • The company (SCANA) also has paid an unspecified amount to a powerful political consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates. That firm, which also helps elect legislators and statewide officials, is under investigation as part of an ongoing Statehouse public corruption probe.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Being thoughtful – on purpose

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Over a 12-year span at UCLA, American college basketball coach John Wooden won ten National Championships and their total of 11 remains a record today. Wooden is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in sports history, and more importantly an even greater person. He was a man of integrity and character and was highly respected on and off the court. He believed in discipline and felt strongly about teamwork and demonstrating appreciation for those around him. This attitude of being outwardly gracious became the foundation of his coaching philosophy and played a huge part of his team’s success.

Wooden taught that each time a player scored, they were to personally congratulate whoever helped make the play. At first, this seemed sissy and awkward to the arrogant players, but the coach explained that even the slightest gesture of recognition would encourage the individual and create a stronger unity within the entire team. This awareness is now openly seen in every sport with high-fives and the various gestures of open acknowledgment. This reminds us of how powerful our attitude can be as it has the potential to motivate or deflate those around us. Inspiring words can build self-esteem, confidence, and hope but they only have a chance to be effective when they are released. Imagine what a difference we could make by simply developing a determination to show our gratitude and be an encouragement to everyone.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Dear Danica Patrick

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Dear Danica Patrick,

Hey, girl! I just wanted to drop a note to let you know how sorry I was to hear the news of your “departure” from Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2017 season. (Good job on your decision to get ahead of the story and make the announcement yourself on Facebook, by the way. Gutsy move.)

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I have to admit I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t see this one coming.

It’s a bummer for sure, but you have a good racing resume to fall back on, so I know you’ll be fine. Remember that time when you became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500, and when you won that IndyCar race in Japan? That was cool. So was that one top-ten finish you’ve scored so far this season in the NASCAR Cup Series. And winning that Daytona 500 pole back in 2013? What a great story that was.

I guess maybe the problem with that list is that all of those achievements — leading laps, earning poles and most importantly, winning races — are all just part of the job description for professional race car drivers. They shouldn’t carry more weight, or garner bigger headlines, when they are achieved by a woman.

Those pesky sponsorship problems don’t help matters, either. After all those times you had to wear skimpy outfits in those racy — get it, “racy?” — TV commercials you did for Go Daddy, they up and left you; they were Gone Daddy.

When you posted those photos of your perfect, healthy yoga-fied figure all over Instagram, I’m sure it was just part of promoting your health and fitness initiative, and not meant to be intimidating at all.  And when Nature’s Bakery jumped ship on its sponsorship agreement two years early, that had to sting.  Read the rest of this entry »

Do We Have State Sanctioned ‘Child Abuse’ in South Carolina?

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Suppose you had a neighbor next door that did not adequately feed their children; and they did not provide adequate health care to them; and they did not provide their children with the economic support needed to have a decent life; and they did not provide them with reasonable family support.

And, suppose that this neighbor did this year after year. And, suppose that you regularly had a talk with your neighbor and showed them how they were not measuring up and told them there were resources available to them to do better.

Now suppose that from time to time, your neighbor did a few things to make the situation a little better but sometimes things got worse. And, suppose that in 27 years, overall things only got just a tiny bit better – and the kids were still worse off than over 80% of the other kids in the neighborhood.

Would you call this systematic “child abuse?” Well, thus is the status of children in South Carolina.

For the last 27 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been issuing their authoritative Kids Count Report (KidsCount.org) that measures the well being of kids in all 50 states on a wide variety of indexes. From year to year, they crunch literally hundreds of thousands of data points that give a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening from state to state and from year to year.

The good news is that South Carolina is at an all-time high. The bad news is we are ranked 41st of the 50 states.

And, when you dig a little deeper, the news is overall bad as South Carolina is not really getting better. Essentially, the rest of the states are getting worse. The summary numbers for the last five years tell a depressing story:

Economic Well Being – overall South Carolina ranks 37th. We are worse in the number of children in poverty (289,000 children) increasing from 22 to 27%. For children whose parents lack secure employment (356,000 children) we are worse, going from 30 to 33%. For children living in households with a high housing cost burden (346,000 children) the numbers have increased from 31 to 32%. And for teens not in school or not working (19,00 children) we have improved fractionally from 8 to 7%.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Diligence requires less talk and more action

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Success is not easily understood or there would be more of it! Learning and demonstrating certain principals can make the difference between watching others succeed and enjoying the blessings of success in our own life. One of these fundamental principles is that your God-given talent will make room for you! Proverbs 18:16 is a powerful statement that is worth considering; “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” What does this mean? If we will pursue and practice whatever we are good at to the point of becoming our best, others will recognize our talent and will be more than willing to promote us and declare to the world about what we can do. Proverbs 22:29 say’s, “Do you know a person diligent in their business affairs? They shall be presented before kings and shall not stand before mean tyrants.” Allow me to include that our talents are truly opportunities but as we are reminded of the 10,000-hour rule, they must be developed. Very similar to being an athlete, it will require vision, hard work, and determination to become outstanding. How does a marathon runner increase their stamina and endurance? Certainly not by laying on the couch and eating Cheetos! They run every day to build strength and fortitude.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Labor Day Weekend

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Part three of a three-part series on Darlington Raceway

Labor Day weekend 2017 at Darlington Raceway was the best of times … and then it got better or, depending on where your personal driver allegiances lie, it got worse.

Either way, it was definitely eventful.

Let’s begin by mentioning one of the most interesting features of any NASCAR race: the outfits.

A speedway fashion statement generally consists of a T-shirt, cap or both, emblazoned with the name, car number and sponsor of the wearer’s driver of choice.

It’s generally just your normal, mainstream racing apparel, although I do have to tell you that as we were attempting to persuade overnight guests to exit the infield the morning after a particularly memorable Mother’s Day weekend at the track “Too Tough To Tame” a few years back, I was greeted at one RV door by a lovely grandmotherly lady sporting a tank top and a pair of Dale Jr. boxer shorts. That one’s kind of permanently burned into my brain.

Most of the drivers seem to truly enjoy Darlington’s throwback theme; they definitely embrace it. It’s like NASCAR Halloween, and it’s great to see competitors, who become so focused and fierce when they strap into those cars, sporting vintage fire suits and big ‘80s sunglasses with mustaches to match, laughing together and slapping one another on the back before the race. I can’t help but think that the very atmosphere itself is a throwback to the golden age of racing.  Read the rest of this entry »