Rebels Without a Cause.

x-posted from False Hustle

At this time of year, it’s hard not to think South Carolina is needlessly missing out on all the March Madness.

It wasn’t always this way.

In 2002, Columbia hosted a World Series Baseball Regional, a Super Regional and a women’s Basketball Regional. Around the same time, Columbia was also chosen to host a number of SEC championship events and several men’s soccer tournaments.

With the University of South Carolina set to open a new $64 million, 18,000-seat basketball arena later that year, it seemed Columbia was a good bet to make the rotation for several of the NCAA’s championship events.

But that never came to pass. For reasons that – to me – defy logical explanation:

You might have forgotten that Columbia can never be the site for a pre-determined NCAA tournament. Never, at least, until the Confederate flag is removed from the State House grounds.

So, it will not happen in my lifetime. No doubt, it will take at least another 50 years or so for the state of South Carolina to move into the 21st century.

Yes, the NCAA issued a two-year ban on awarding predetermined postseason events to South Carolina in 2001 and extended the moratorium indefinitely in 2004. Once the flag comes down, the NCAA comes back to town. It’s really that simple.

But apparently still committed to fighting a war that ended nearly 150 years ago, South Carolina’s political leaders have refused to back down in the face of the NCAA’s – and the NAACP’s – economic boycott. Is this mere stubborness or principled defiance in support of Southern ideals that somehow eludes me? (Of course, the old joke holds that the Civil War ain’t over down here – it’s just halftime.)

Either way, the ban goes on.

So while cities like Greensboro and Dayton reap tremendous economic benefits from hosting the Dance, Columbia’s jewel of an arena sits dark and empty, local businesses miss their chance to cater to hordes of basketball fans and thousands of hotel rooms go unused.

Ron Morris of The State (Columbia, S.C.) laments:

For an NCAA basketball event, the host city essentially opens its front door and asks visitors to drop cash at area hotels and restaurants. The NCAA covers all expenses.

… Beyond the obvious financial gains, the city of Columbia would benefit immensely from the national exposure garnered by hosting a tournament. The city can’t possibly purchase the kind of publicity it would get from having its name printed on every NCAA tournament bracket across the country.

… All the money Columbia has doled out for music festivals and new slogans would come back in spades with just one weekend of NCAA tournament basketball. Not a person outside Columbia — OK, and most people within the city limits — knows that “Famously Hot” is the city’s new slogan.

Clearly, South Carolina is lacking in progressive leadership. And maybe that’s the way they prefer it in the Palmetto State.

But why?

h/t Deadspin


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • Kia

    South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union, so they’ve been marching to their own beat for quite some time.

    With the refusal of the stimulus money Governor Sanford is really out to validate his selection as one of Time Magazine’s worst governors.

    Maybe the dire economic straits they will soon face will speed up the removal of that atrocious flag.

  • Scott

    Why, you ask? I think the first reason why would be that the NCAA comes into their state and tells them what to do. If the people of SC want to take the flag down then so be it, but not by extortion from outsiders. SC took the flag down off the capital which I thought was a big step for them but apparently not for the NCAA, who won’t accept half a loaf. I know the CSA battle flag gets people all excited as they label it the flag of slavery but slavery existed much long under the US national flag than it ever did under the any of the CSA’s flags.