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Sports Talk: Schedule puts strain on football fans, players

Those of us chomping at the bit for football season to get started won't have to chomp much longer. In their infinite wisdom, the Georgia High School Association moved football season up by two weeks.

The feeling was that with most systems starting school in early August, this would alleviate state championship games from being played the weekend before Christmas. In essence, let's get it over with in time to go shopping.

Thomson High will start practice on July 19. That is not a misprint. Not too long ago the GHSA moved the season back because it was too hot to practice so early in August. Now they've suddenly become worried about 10 schools still playing football while Santa is warming up his reindeer and to heck with global warming.

The Bulldogs will scrimmage Screven County on Aug. 6 and Lincoln County on Aug. 13. This sounds like the NFL with "exhibition" games. We all know that the Lincoln County encounter will be approached by coaches, players, and especially the fans, with the vigor of a state championship.

Elbert County will visit The Brickyard for the regular season opener on Aug. 20. The annual grudge match with Washington-Wilkes will be the next week in Washington, the second of three games before Labor Day.

The 150-mile trip to Hinesville to play Liberty County in a region crossover game will be played on Saturday, Sept. 4. Liberty County, a school that opened in 1991 still does not have their own stadium. They have to play their games at Bradwell Institute's Olvey Field and Bradwell must have first dibs on Friday nights.

For those of you that are both Thomson High and Georgia Bulldog or Georgia Southern Eagle fans, you will face a major conflict that day.

Even if Georgia and Southern kick off at 1 p.m., it'll be practically impossible to make the Thomson High kickoff that evening unless you travel by jet. One tip on that point, Fort Stewart is very peculiar about their speed limit and air space.

An even bigger conflict will occur Thanksgiving weekend. The state semi-final games played in the Georgia Dome will go head-to-head with family travel plans and the Georgia-Georgia Tech game in Athens on that Saturday.

Of course parents with kids playing on those teams, cheering, or in the bands will be in the Dome. The casual drop-in fans, those not fervently devoted to a school, will have to make a choice between the high school games and watching Georgia and Tech on TV.

I'm not sure if the GHSA even considered all this, or maybe they don't care. Only a significant drop in gate receipts at the Dome is sure to get their attention.

Web posted on Thursday, July 8, 2004

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