Shrine Bowl Wrap Up

There is an old adage that “a tie is like kissing your sister”.  I’m not sure of the origin, and I don’t have a sister, but I’d be willing to bet that the two teams in the 82nd Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas would disagree.  This year’s game, played at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, ended in a 10-10 tie.

While the winner of the Shrine Bowl – either the North Carolina or South Carolina All Stars – gets bragging rights for a year, the real winners are the children in the 21 Shriners Hospitals across the nation.  A total of $1,541,320.18 was raised this year by the six shrine temples involved in operating the game, and adds to the over $75 million total since the game’s inception in 1937.

For the players and coaches, a highlight of the week is a visit to the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Greenville, SC.  To many, this visit is a sobering glimpse into the lives of children with medical problems – specifically orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate.  It’s also an uplifting experience to many because of the smiles, hugs, and positive attitudes demonstrated by the patients.

One South Carolina player, Jysaiah Cromer, was so moved by the hospital visit this year, that instead of signing autographs, he had the children sign his game-day cleats.  Those that couldn’t sign themselves, he assisted.  He wore those cleats in the game, and they remain a physical reminder of why the Shrine Bowl is so important.  Important to the hospitals and patients, of course, but also to the maturation process of these 88 high school seniors.  They literally learn the meaning of “strong legs run so that weak legs may walk”.

The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas was first played on December 4, 1937 in Charlotte, N.C., making it the oldest high school football all-star game in the nation.  It was based on the model of the East-West Shrine Game that was played in San Francisco, but the game took on a new slant in the Carolinas.  Instead of being a college all-star game, it would become the nation’s first high school football all-star game.

Among the notables to have played in the Shrine Bowl and the professional ranks as well, are such names as Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, Sonny Jurgenson (Pro Football Hall of Fame), Charlie Waters (Super Bowl Champions VI & XII), Jim Rice (Baseball Hall of Fame), Freddie Solomon (Super Bowl Champions XVI & XIX), William “Refrigerator” Perry, Brad Edwards (Super Bowl Champion XXVI), and Jadeveon Clowney (2014 #1 Draft Pick) among many, many others.

But the game is not about the players, the score, the highlights, and the accolades.  It’s about one thing, and one thing only – the children, and raising money for the Shriners Hospital.  And for the 88 top high school senior football players in North and South Carolina, if a tie is like kissing your sister – then sister, pucker up!

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