Naming a highway, a building or a stadium after someone doesn’t achieve what most people think it does.
You’d think that having your name engraved upon some edifice would grant some sort of immortality. The name would survive long after the life. In fact, longer than the memories.
That’s the problem.
A name without a history seems pretty much useless to me.
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Generally, I assume every college stadium and arena that has a name affixed to it was purchased. It was called a gift at the time and there was a ceremony. The donor’s largess was proclaimed and the check was cashed.
Whether the honored was a good person or not has little to do with it. The donor was charitable, which is a good thing, and was wealthy, but the prerequisites stop just about there.
Ask the students at a school about the person whose name is attached to their stadium and you’ll often get a blank stare.
The immortality afforded by attaching your name to something is akin to your name accidentally showing up 100 years from now in a telephone book, if we still have telephone books … or telephones.
But I’m glad that Clayton High School is switching from Comet Stadium to Nixon-Fowler Stadium.
Glenn Nixon and Gary Fowler deserve any honor afforded to them.
Clayton is a special place for high school football. They helped make it that way.
If they bought the naming rights of the stadium, the price was paid in sweat, worry, labor and love.
For more than 50 years, one of the two men coached other men’s sons the same way that they coached their own.
Their teams won a lot of games, but on my list of criteria for honoring people, how victory is achieved is more important than the number of wins. Their teams won a lot of games, but neither coach ever let winning get in the way of helping a kid.
Sportsmanship, a somewhat old-fashioned notion, was emphasized. Clayton High remains the catalyst for annual coaching get-togethers.
As Fowler once told me, “We coaches are more alike than we are different. We really ought to take time to know one another, to appreciate each other.”
Some day in the distant future, I imagine, there will be a child at Clayton High School who has no idea who Glenn Nixon was or what Gary Fowler achieved.
Hopefully, someone will find an entry somewhere that explains that Nixon-Fowler Stadium was named for a couple of coaches who spent half a century striving for greatness, treating people with respect and toiling diligently to help young boys become good young men.
That’s the kind of legacy that should be recognized.
Clayton honoring Nixon and Fowler is like the University of North Carolina naming its basketball arena for Dean Smith or Duke affixing Mike Krzyzewski’s moniker to its basketball court.
Nixon-Fowler Stadium is a right and justifiable honor, even if it is the exception.
The dedication of Nixon-Fowler Stadium will begin at 6:45 p.m. before the game, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Due to the expected large crowd, those wanting to be in a seat for the ceremony should arrive by 6:30. Gates open at 5:30. Tickets are $7 each.