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  • Bill Chastain

Yankees and Damn Yankees

There’s an old Florida distinction about visiting tourists from the North that goes something like this: A “yankee” is a tourist who comes to Florida in the winter and returns for the rest of the year. A “damn yankee” is one who comes to Florida and stays.

Having driven up and down I-75 to cover spring training for years, I’ve never seen the traffic as congested as I have this spring. In one instance, it took me over an hour to travel less than five miles in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Low gas prices and freezing temperatures everywhere north of Florida has no doubt affected the situation.

However, this time the cold seems to be really pissing people off and forcing them to rethink their futures.

A friend of mine who runs a retail business in St. Petersburg believes Florida is about to swell with an influx of new residents. His belief is based on the fact that tourist customers, who once asked him about restaurants and other destinations, now ask him about where to buy a house, realtors, schools, etc.

Florida is forever portrayed as a goober state full of misfits married to their cousins. But hey, if you’ve got 75 degrees and sunny, what’s the big deal about a few reptile farms and little inbreeding, right?

To quote Jed Clampett: “Ya’ll come now, ya hear?”

Gymnastics phenomenon

Women’s Gymnastics is the rage in Utah.

A recent dual competition between Utah and Stanford at Utah’s Huntsman Center, which holds 15,000, accommodated a standing-room-only attendance of 15,202 that night.

The Utes’ attendance average for women’s gymnastics ranks the highest among all women’s sports most every year. They are averaging 14,682 through four meets this season, which puts them on pace to break their record season average of 14,376. On top of that, women’s gymnastics meets rank third in the pecking order of most-viewed events on the Pac-12 Network, trailing only football and men’s basketball–though not a distant third.

The excellence of the Utes’ team is a big part of the draw, but some of the popularity is derived from the way they dress up the event–including running the competition so it can be more easy followed and thus more interesting.

If I’m a college sport–or even a professional sport–that struggles with attendance, I would make some time to study the Utes’ model.

Maybe not so knowledgeable

I recently complimented the North Carolina crowd for understanding what was going on when Tar Heels coach Roy Williams employed a four corners offense to start last Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech. Williams used the offense to honor the late Dean Smith, who ran the four corners while coaching Carolina.

However, what appeared to be a knowledgeable crowd on TV didn’t appear as knowledgeable from where Williams sat. After the game, Williams noted: “I was a little disappointed that more of our crowd didn’t have more savvy, but I felt like they were asleep most of the day anyway.”


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