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Sports Talk: GHSA dances around politicians

The Georgia General Assembly is at it again. As if the state's budget woes aren't enough to worry about, Rep. Hinton Mosley of Jesup has introduced HB 1213.

This bill is another effort to meddle in the affairs of the Georgia High School Association. In reality it is an attempt to prevent Wayne County High School teams from traveling to Columbia County to play ball.

Mosley says his beloved Yellow Jackets will have to leave school early and get home late. It's not fair he says. Mosley may be right, but so what? As long as the GHSA has five classifications instead of four that's how the cookie will crumble.

Why does the GHSA currently have five classifications instead of four? The General Assembly took an interest in the state taking control of the GHSA to the exclusion of private schools. Part of the compromise had the GHSA realign from four classes to five. The GHSA member private schools also had to multiply their enrollment count by 1.5. This created the travel problem.

Huge schools outside of metro Atlanta had to travel long distances to compete within their region. Evans High School was the best example. Evans unsuccessfully appealed to compete in a smaller classification than they rightfully belonged. The athletic director that pushed this issue to protect the Evans kids was later shown thanks by a group of parents. They got him fired, but that's a different story.

If the General Assembly had kept their nose out of it, schools like Evans and Wayne County would never have faced a travel issue. The GHSA would still be working with four classifications, regions would be numerically larger and distances between the schools in a region would be closer. There wouldn't be four school football regions with 0-10 playoff teams and 9 a.m. Class A semi-final games in the Georgia Dome either.

Mosley's bill will attempt to force the GHSA to permit schools to drop in classification to avoid long road trips. Wayne County would have been allowed to compete in a closer Savannah area region but liked their playoff chances better in the smaller region with Columbia County. So guess what? Along comes HB 1213 sponsored by Rep. Mosley. He's looking after Jesup but to heck with the statewide picture.

Just last week the GHSA executive committee enacted a rule that a school can travel no more than 100 miles one way other than on a Friday or Saturday night.

The GHSA's dilemma in dealing with the General Assembly is the threat of the state completely taking over the governance of high school competition. Rather than being self-governed, schools would answer to politicians, judges, courts and bureaucrats. We all know how unlevel that playing field would be.

Thomson High ended up being Class AAAA's third smallest school due to political interference creating five classes. They didn't depend on house bills and politics to fix it. They advanced to the state football quarterfinals in 2001 and won the title in 2002, all while keeping their mouth shut.

That's a good lesson for Rep. Mosley to learn.

Web posted on Thursday, February 19, 2004

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