So often in today's world of sports, fans are forgotten.
Especially in college and professional sports, the almighty dollar rules and game times are dictated by television and the enormous revenue it brings to the schools and organizations. The teams and TV executives never seem to consider what is convenient for the people who make the donations and buy the tickets. That's a shame, but it's the world in which we live.
Sports would be nowhere without the fans. Our community has had countless great and loyal fans. As a boy growing up here, I remember many of them, but just recently one particular gentleman came to mind: Sim Standard. He loved his family, church and community. He also loved the Thomson Bulldogs.
I first got to know Mr. Sim when he helped my dad cook suppers for the Brotherhood at church. He was always nice to me. Once, he brought me a present. He had attended the Georgia-Georgia Tech game in Atlanta and in his seat were four mini-footballs. He brought me one. I still have it. I've grown to cherish it even if it was a Georgia Tech ball because he thought enough of me to bring it to me.
Also, long before tailgating was the rage it is today, Mr. Sim never attended a game without delicacies he had prepared himself for the people lucky enough to sit around him. He came to Thomson or Georgia games with sacks of ham biscuits or fried pies. He was as loyal a fan as Thomson ever had.
In the fall of 1968, Mr. Sim's health was failing, but there was a game he couldn't miss: On Oct. 18, Thomson was to play its oldest rival: Washington-Wilkes.
The game would be played in Thomson between the defending state champions from Class A and B respectively. The 1967 game was one legends are made of. Thomson had held the Tigers inside our own 5-yard line numerous times to preserve a 7-0 win and an undefeated season. Fans anticipated that the 1968 game would be just as tight.
Mr. Sim insisted on being dismissed from the hospital to attend the game but promised to watch from a car, which was allowed inside the stadium specifically for him. The game was initially very tight, but, aside from Ray Guy's 87-yard punt, didn't have the drama of the 1967 game as Thomson went on to win 34-12.
Sadly, Mr. Sim didn't make it to the end. He died of a heart attack during the game. Many would say he was foolhardy to take such a risk. I think not. He knew in all likelihood that his days were numbered and he died doing one of the things he loved best. Also, he watched from above during Thomson's second consecutive state championship victory against Carrolton knowing that Ray Guy would block the field goal with 3 minutes left to preserve that 7-6 win.
He didn't have to sweat it like the rest of us. Mr. Sim. He set the Standard. Thanks to all our fans over the years. Go Dogs.
John Barnett has played, observed and coached Thomson athletics for 45 years. Contact him at B122792@comcast.net.