Don't tell me there's nothing to do
Saturday, February 16, 2013 7:33 PM
There is a phrase going around I'm awfully tired of hearing. One that often gets repeated, posted, tweeted and shared in any number of ways.
"There's nothing to do in Greenwood."
I'm sure you've heard it. Heck, you've probably said it.
But, see, there's a little problem with that phrase: It's not true. There are things to do in Greenwood. You're just not doing them.
The topic came up last week when I stopped by associate editor Scott J. Bryan's office for one of our regular conversations. Most of our talks revolve around 1990s R&B music, Southern writers, certain local government entities/individuals being corrupt and getting mad at us for reporting it, basketball, football and movies. We also argued about pizza recently.
But last week, our conversation veered toward economic development and growth in retail and other offerings in the area. We discussed how often local residents talk of leaving the area to seek out shopping, entertainment and nightlife options in other, larger cities.
Eventually, Bryan blurted out, more to himself than me, "Here's an idea: How about people support what we do have here, then maybe we could get more."
I agreed 100 percent.
Now, before I launch further into this argument, let me make some acknowledgments.
Yes, of course I realize there is much "more to do" in larger nearby cities such as Columbia or Greenville. I love going down to Columbia for the University of South Carolina ballgames or for a concert at the Colonial Life Arena. The Vista area of downtown Columbia has really come alive in recent years.
Also, I think what they have done with downtown Greenville is absolutely amazing. Greenville has wonderful restaurants and bars and live music and shows at the Peace Center and baseball games at picturesque Fluor Field.
And those are just our nearby "bigger" cities. I love to travel, and in recent years have been to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Boston and beyond.
I've had a great time in all of those cities and would be a fool if I didn't recognize there are, naturally, many more entertainment offerings there than in a small place such as Greenwood.
But, trust me, there are plenty of things to do in Greenwood, South Carolina. You've just got to, you know, actually go do them.
I'LL THROW SOME examples out there. Now, I know not everyone is a sports fan, but I'll start there. Just humor me.
I'm not sure if you know this - and, judging from some of the crowds I've seen at games, you very well might not know - but we have a college right in the middle of this town. It's called Lander University.
Lander University fields a number of athletic teams, men's and women's, at the NCAA Division II level. They play in the Peach Belt Conference, a well-respected league in the Division II ranks.
Last Saturday, the Bearcats' baseball team - which is now ranked No. 7 in the nation - was hosting West Chester University, which was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time. The game started at 3 p.m. on a sunny Saturday afternoon and was played at the sparkling Dolny Stadium, literally one of the finest Division II baseball stadiums in America.
The crowd, while spirited, was sparse. There was a good contingent up along the first baseline, and there were dozens of kids on the hill in right field, where a birthday party was going on. But large swaths of the grandstand were empty.
The same can be said for many Lander basketball games. Lander has fielded competitive basketball teams, especially the women's team, which went to the Division II Elite 8 last year. They play in a pristine facility in Finis Horne Arena.
Yet, on most nights, you can walk up right before tip-off and pick where you want to sit.
The same can be said for Post 20 baseball games in the summertime. Plenty of good seats available at Legion Field.
Heck, even high school football, a presumably impenetrable institution in the Deep South, doesn't seem to draw the crowds it once did across the area. (Granted, I'm using the unscientific "eyeball" test on that one.)
There's good ball - men's and women's, high school and college - being played across the area. They're ready for you to come watch.
BUT IT'S NOT JUST local sports teams that seem to lack in resident attendance. It seeps into other areas, as well.
On Feb. 8, a Friday night, my wife and I went to see "Lincoln" at the REI Cinema 10. On a Friday night at 8 p.m., there were, if I recall correctly, about 15 people in the auditorium.
Now, I realize "Lincoln" had been in wide release for a while at that point. But, this is a film that has grossed $175 million domestically, with another $50 million overseas. It's nominated for 12 Academy Awards and Daniel Day-Lewis is shoo-in for Best Actor.
But, 15 people in attendance at the 8 o'clock show on a Friday night, even that late into its run? Come on, Greenwood. I know newer movies draw bigger crowds, but still, come on.
Also, let's look at live theater. The shows put on at Greenwood Community Theatre are, quite frankly, phenomenal. GCT's plays are truly entertaining, typically well-acted and presented in a grandly refurbished auditorium.
While GCT's shows draw good crowds, I think they could draw even more. I think they SHOULD be drawing more. Have you been to a play there lately? If not, what are you waiting for?
And then, there is the aspect in which many young people say Greenwood is lacking: nightlife.
Recently, several of my younger, single co-workers gathered in the newsroom and hatched a plan for a weekend night trip to Greenville. One of them said they were going to "get boozy" and needed to head to Greenville in order to accomplish this.
Now, I can appreciate my colleagues wanting to go to Greenville for a change of scenery and to mingle with some of those young ladies in the Upstate.
But, and please forgive me for this on a Sunday morning, you really don't need to leave town to "get boozy."
I'm not a big drinker by any means, so I'm not an expert in this regard. But, I'm reasonably certain the beer is pretty damn cold at T.W. Boons Upstairs, the Mill House, Howard's Back Room Bar, Buffalo Grill, Fin N Filet, Sportsbreak, Stokie's and the Oxygen Lounge.
If you want to get your drink on, you can accomplish that in town. In fact, you should probably stay close to town if that's your mission.
I've only touched on a fraction of the "things to do" in and around Greenwood. I didn't even mention Lake Greenwood, golf courses, historic sites, festivals and so many other things that are available.
No, we aren't Greenville or Columbia or New York City. But, there are things to do here. So, stop complaining and go do them.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.