Posts Tagged ‘football’

Georgia Plays Auburn in Columbus and Almost Nobody Comes

May 15, 2016

About 40 spectators turned out for the historic game, historic because it’s the first time Georgia has played Auburn in Columbus since 1958. The Georgia-Auburn football classic was arguably the biggest sports and social event of the year in Columbus. (I thought it left Columbus because it outgrew Memorial Stadium, but a comment listed below says otherwise.*)

Georgia--Auburn Football Game,, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, 1895. The claissic switched to Columbus, GA in 1920, leaving in 1958 and now alternates between Aubiurn, AL and Athens, GA. They first started playing in 1892 in Atlanta.

Georgia–Auburn Football Game,, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, 1895. The claissic switched to Columbus, GA in 1920, leaving in 1958 and now alternates between Aubiurn, AL and Athens, GA. They first started playing in 1892 in Atlanta.

There was a major difference in the 1958 and 2016 game,  college football and college Ultimate Frisbee. Columbus media ignored the USA Ultimate league’s Southeast Regional Tournament that was held April 30th — May  1s  at the Woodruff Farm Soccer complex in Columbus.  There were sixteen teams from major Southeast universities, including Georgia Tech. 
Georgia beat Auburn in the final game and, along with 2nd Place Florida State and 3rd Place Auburn,  goes to the National Championship Tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina May 27th through 30th. ESPN3 does stream the championship games. 
The only reason I knew about the Columbus tournament is that Georgia’s star player Parker Bray is the grandson of my friend Julie Bray. We were among the very few who saw him make some spectacular plays in the Alabama and LSU games. (I didn’t make the Auburn game.) 
Perhaps media ignored the event because Ultimate Frisbee is a stepchild (club) college sport. The teams pay most of their expenses.  I enjoyed the games because I’m into  lifelong learning.  Like most folks, I knew almost nothing about Ultimate Frisbee. Now I know that a team scores when a player catches a disc in the opposing team’s end zone. It’s billed as non-contact sport, but Parker ended up in a hospital for more than a week after one game. When two fast and strong young men are racing to catch a disc, collisions will happen. A  player can’t throw a disc while moving, but must pass it within 10 seconds. There are no referees in college Frisbee. The honor system is used. A game is over in an hour and a half, or when one team scores 15 points first. It’s fast and fun to watch. The players are amazingly accurate when they throw those floating discs, and it’s not unusual for them to make diving catches.
It appeared that Georgia and Auburn had the largest groups of spectators. (I saw no spectators at a Georgia Tech game.) Auburn even had a ‘band!” Well, actually, one trombonist who played the National Anthem before their games. For the championship game, the Georgia team also sang “Amazing Grace.” Really.   The teams are very spirited and do their own cheers after scoring a point. One of the Jojah – that’s the logo name of the Georgia team- cheers is “Jojah, Jojah” followed by barking like a bulldog four times. Those kids have fun and it’s fun to watch them.    
There is also a women’s division. Maybe we can get their Southeast Regional Tournament next year. 
*When I ran a post on the Georgia-Auburn football classic in 2012, I recevied this comment on the reason the game was moved in 1958. I had always heard it was because the crowds outgrew Memorial Stadium, but I got this comment that says otherwise.
Jesse C. Gordon III Says:
Nice commentary, but the reason the series was mover to home and away was Auburn wanted another home game.Columbus(my Grandfather,Auburn graduate, was involved in the politics of the situation at the time) offered to expand Columbus Memorial up to 70,000 capacity. Auburn said no.And that is the long and the short of why the series went to home and away. In 1959 Neither Auburn nor Georgia seated more than the 35,000 Memorial Stadium held.Somewhere in city hall one may find the plans submitted showing an expanded Columbus Memorial with a complete second tier, still horseshoe shaped.Would have been the 2nd. largest stadium in the South behind old Tulane Stadium.

*

 

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The War Substitute

January 12, 2015

Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne told a Congressional investigative committee, in effect, that football is a good substitute for war. According to the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American, starring Pat O’Brien as Rockne and Ronald Reagan as the Gipper,  this is what he told the committee:

“Games such as football are more than merely helpful to boys. They’re an absolute necessity to the nation’s best interest,” said Rockne. “Every red-blooded young man in any country is filled with what we might call the natural spirit of combat.

“In many parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world, this spirit manifests itself in continuous wars and revolutions. But we have tried to make competitive sport serve as a safer outlet for that spirit of combat. I believe we’ve succeeded.”

No argument about that it’s a safer outlet.  Getting jingoists worldwide to switch to that outlet is the trick. In the U.S.A. football is very popular and attracts millions, but it certainly hasn’t kept us out of wars.

 

The Trouble with Football

December 15, 2014

 

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Retired legendary Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins

Bobby Cremins, the most successful Georgia Tech basketball coach ever – the school named its basketball court after him – talked as much about football as basketball when he spoke to  members of the Rotary Club of Columbus. That’s because the paying-players controversy affects basketball and all college sports. If you pay football players, you have to pay all team sport athletes. Not everyone agrees. Some say you pay the players that bring in the big bucks. That’s the way capitalism works.  People, they assert, who say you have to pay all of them are just using that as an excuse to keep from paying any.

Cremins agrees the players should get more of the “ridiculous” amount of money the TV networks are paying to broadcast the games.  When they see the schools and coaches getting millions of dollars, while they play the games and take the physical risks and get only a scholarship for and room and board, they feel cheated.  He says they have a case, but he is opposed to paying them.  Instead, he is for giving them a stipend.  So paying them a $5,000-a-month stipend, the figure being considered by the NCAA, is not paying them. Uh huh.

While college football is riding high now, the future is not so rosy.  A recent poll shows that 50 percent of American parents don’t want their sons to play football.  All the news about the brain injuries caused by concussions and about kids dying from injuries is taking its toll. Also, the news about brutal and criminal off-the-field behavior by some players has its effects.  College players are produced by high school football.

As for me, I enjoy a good game, especially if Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, or Auburn are playing.  Still, as I have said before, if I had a young son, I would not want him  playing football. The physical risks are just too great.  It’s just not worth it.

 

 

Would You Want Your Teenager to Play High School Football?

October 13, 2014

After learning that MCSD Superintendent David Lewis may propose building a new high school football stadium with new SPLOST money, I had to reflect on whether we should have high school  football.

“Concussion rates in the high school game are 78% higher than in college, according to  the Institute of Medicine,” reports an article in TIME, the same article that tells us that three high school players died within a week. A neurology professor says the teenage brain is still developing. The electrical wiring is not fully insulated. Neck muscles are weaker than college players.

When a University of Georgia player died from game injuries in 1897, the Georgia legislature passed a law banning college football.  The player’s mother asked the  governor  to veto the bill. He did.  Maybe he shouldn’t have.

If I had a teenager, would I want him to play high school football?  No. 

 

 

VInce Dooley Says College Football Facing it’s Greatest Crisis Ever

August 6, 2014

Unionization attempts, pay for play, player product endorsements etc. issues are threatening the very existence of college football, he says.   

Retired University of Georgia football coach  and athletic director Vince Dooley, who is now a  consultant for Kennesaw State University’s new football  program,  saved the most controversial part of his talk to the Rotary Club of Columbus until the very end of his  very entertaining talk.  After getting a lot of laughs about his years at Georgia, he made the point that to start paying players would bring about the end of college football.

He said giving the players a full scholarship and adding a cost of attendance payment should be enough.  He also wants a law passed to regulate those payments.  If such a law is not enacted, he said, the colleges would get into bidding wars for the best players, driving the costs so high college football would be dismantled. He also pointed out that if a school pays football players it will have to pay the atheletes in the other programs. 

Well, how about a law regulating what coaches can make?   That would stop bidding wars for the best coaches. While we’re at it, we could regulate pay for professional sports stars and coaches.  Could such regulations be considered a restraint of trade?

It’s really hard to make the case for not paying players who take great physical risks when their coaches are being paid millions of dollars, and the schools are raking in many millions more. 

I suppose we should clarify that by saying “some top-tier school” are raking in those millions. I’ve read where only  the top-tier schools make money on their athletic  programs.  Most  of them lose money on those programs. 

 

 

 

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

December 4, 2013

IT’S JUST A GAME?

When an Alabama  football fan allegedly kills another fan because she made light of Alabama losing to Auburn, it raises the question of why people take a sports game so seriously. 

If you are making $7 million a year for coaching a team, as does Alabama’s Saban, you perhaps have reason to be concerned.  But, how many people are doing that?

A lot of people are having a rough time economically these days.

Healthcare and education costs are going through the roof.

America is ranking lower and lower among the developed countries of world in education, to say nothing of the fact that Georgia and Alabama are ranked near the bottom in the country.

Our country is still involved in its longest war in its history. 

Our country’s infrastructure is deteriorating.

And yet, taxpayers are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to build sports stadiums for private businesses. Papers like the Ledger-Enquirer are giving banner headlines to the outcome of a football game. The font size of the headline on Auburn beating Alabama was probably as large as the one proclaiming the end of World War II.

What the hell is going on?   

 

 

Yes, College Athletes Should be Paid

September 9, 2013

I’ve been saying it for years.  Now,  Time writer Sean Gregory is saying it to  millions.  I guess the magazine still has a circulation of millions.  It’s just not  fair to pay coaches millions and the players, who take the physical risks, nothing.

Alabama’s Sabin  gets $5.3 million a year.  Just about any  Alabama fan will quickly tell you he is worth it.  That championship team pulled in almost $82 million last year.  Some of that money goes to support sports programs that make nothing. O.K., let’s say he is worth it.  However, those fans didn’t go to see him play. They went to see college kids play.  He didn’t take any physical risks out on that football field.  But, he made a lot of money,  and they made nothing in salary. College athletes at the big schools are getting scholarships, which some college presidents say could come  to  $100 thousand in four years.  That’s $25 thousand a year. Gregory says, according to  the revenue they generate, the players should be getting at least $225,047 a year. And, the stars should get more than that. He’s right.  

There are some really prestigious universities that don’t have athletic scholarships. You know, Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.  But, then, football is not their thing, even though college football started at Yale. They still have teams, but football doesn’t pull in millions there, and coaches salaries are quite modest. They don’t need football money.  Harvard, for instance, has a $30 billion endowment. Very valuable degrees are what  they provide.  

 

How do You Attract More Boys to Your University?

August 30, 2013

Football

Tomorrow in Macon, Georgia, Mercer University fields a football team for the first time since 1941.  The team that it be playing, Reinhardt University of Walesa, Georgia, is playing its first game ever. Why are they doing it?

From what  I have  read, the school’s presidents say the same things that other university presidents are saying all over the country.  Football programs enhance the educational experience, raise a school’s profile, and attract more  students.  Mercer has its largest freshman class ever this year. How many girls do you think pick a school because of football?    

Of course, the football programs may also make  money  for  the schools.  But, that’s not a given.  The big  programs at schools like Alabama, Georgia, and Auburn make millions, but more small universities lose than make money on their programs.

11,000 fans are expected to show up for  the Mercer-Reinhardt game tomorrow, by the way. The stadium has 10,200 seats.  Will Mercer win the first game it has played in 72 years?  Who knows?  All we know is that Mercer has about 8,000 students, and Reinhardt has a little over 1,000.  Reinhardt has no record  since it has never played a game.  Mercer does have a record.  It won 3 and lost 6 games in 1941, the last year that it had a football team. 

SENSATIONAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS!!!

August 26, 2013

Mercer University Cranks up Football Again and Will Play Georgia Tech

Yes, after 72 years, Mercer University goes back into the football  business. College  football is a business, one that makes good money for the coaches and the schools, but not the players, who take the greatest risks by putting their bodies in harm’s way.

When I was attending Mercer, I  heard some tales about how the school decided to drop football after the  University  of Georgia beat the Bears 100 to 0 in Porter Stadium in Macon in 1941.  That tale turned out to be apocryphal.  I checked out the records, and the score was only 81 to 0.   It was Georgia Tech that ran up the biggest score against Mercer,  105 to 0 in 1914;  however, Mercer did beat  Georgia Tech in the first game Tech ever played.  In 1892, Mercer beat Tech 12 to 6.  It never beat  Tech again.  Mercer’s first game was also Georgia’s first game.  Georgia won 50 to 0, and Mercer never beat Georgia over the 49 years that they played. (They didn’t play every year.) And as far as dropping football because of the Georgia score, that’s not  the reason given. Mercer suspended all sports during World War II. It considered restarting  the football program after the war, but decided the $50,000 it would cost was too much.

Georgia Tech has agreed to play a non-conference game with Mercer as its 2016 season opener.  Tech says it is doing it to show  support for college football in Georgia.  That’s why it agreed to also  play Georgia Southern. Mercer will probably lose the game, but the money  should be good since Bobby  Dodd Stadium at Grant  Field holds 55,000 people and the TV money (if this  game is televised)  ain’t chicken feed.  Mercer’s new stadium will seat 10,200.

Mercer will play in the NCAA Division 1 Pioneer League this year.  It’s a non-scholarship league similar to the Ivy League which is also an NCAA Division 1 league.  That’s just for this year. Next season the team will move to  the NCAA Division 1 Southern Conference, which is a football scholarship league.

Mercer’s first game is in Macon Saturday against Reinhardt, which is located at Walesa, Georgia, which is near Alpharetta. .  This year the Bears will be playing schools as far away as California and New York.

The  big question is why the school  decided to do it. President William Underwood is quoted on the Mercer football website as saying, “This kind of college football will enhance our academic reputation by aligning us with other outstanding universities that compete in Division I non-scholarship football and by making Mercer even more competitive in attracting the most sought-after students.”  I suppose that  reasoning will still hold true when the team switches in 2014  to  the Southern Conference, which is an athletic scholarship league.    

 

Herschel Walker Tells Ft. Benning Audience How He Overcame Mental Illness

May 14, 2010

 

Herschel Walker speaking to National Infantry Museum Parade Field audience

Herschel Walker talking with media following his talk to soldiers and middle school students at Fort Benning

Walker said he went from being a “special” student because of a speech impediment, who suffered a lot of bullying in his early years,  to becoming a martial artist and successful high school, college, and professional football player.  He made the point that everyone gets knocked down a lot in the game of life,  but getting back up and staying in the game is what is important.   Also, a big moment is when, like he did, you admit you need help in handling your mental problems and get it.  He was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.  He also emphasized repeatedly the important role that Jesus Christ played in helping him overcome his problems. Along with three writers, he has authored a book about his life, Breaking Free: My Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

The Army brought Walker to Fort Benning as a “Guest Trainer” for the Suicide Prevention Awareness Training session which was sponsored by the Army Substance Abuse Program.  The suicide rate in the Army has been steadily increasing, hitting a record with 128 suicides in 2008. 

This morning’s event was definitely worth the trip to Fort Benning and the long, hot walk from the packed National Infantry Museum parking lot to the parade field.  It’s not everyday that you can hear probably the greatest running back of all time tell about how he overcame mental illness.