Earlier this year, South Carolina State Football Head Coach Buddy Pough ended his talk to the Laurens County Touchdown Club with a poem designed to steer the young student-athletes, and other high school students in the audience, toward paying attention to whom you hang with.
He used a verse that has been around for 90 years:
One evening last October, when I was far from sober
And dragging home a load with manly pride
My feet began to stutter and I fell down in the gutter
And a pig came up and parked right by my side
Then I mumbled, “It’s fair weather when good comrades get together”
Till a lady passing by was heard to say,
“You can tell a man that boozes by the playmates that he chooses”
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away
--- a 1933 temperance-themed song with music by F. W. Bowers and lyrics by Benjamin Hapgood Burt.
His point was, who you are seen with and who you allow to influence your decisions (peer pressure) tell people you come into contact with a lot about your character. Pough has advised several generations of athletes, from way back from his days with Fairfield-Central, and many of his mentees have gone on to NFL careers and success in business.
And we know, sometimes you just get caught up in something that gets out of hand. Three New Jersey girls face criminal charges because they beat up a classmate and broadcast it on social media, and the girl they beat up died by suicide. The district already had a pending lawsuit related to bullying, and the superintendent resigned. Men’s basketball at New Mexico State has finished its season because of alleged hazing.
So, associations do matter. Hang with your teammates, and hold each other accountable. If you can inspire the younger generation, do so - they really do look up to you, and you don’t want to abuse that trust. Now, this one is harder - if you see somebody being left out, bring him or her in. Everybody does better in school if they are connected to something.
Thank you, young people, for making our community proud.
Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle. In June, 2025, he will observe his 50th year in community journalism. Reach him at 864-833-1900.