The column is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of AllOnGeorgia.
It does not matter that the latest international report shows that U.S. literacy rates are declining despite the promises of common learning standards for college and career readiness.
It does not matter if Georgia’s SAT scores are below the national average, particularly in math. However, they are performing slightly better on the ACT.
It does not matter if Georgia’s national assessments for reading and math (NAEP – commonly known as the nation’s report card) have plateaued since 2011 with larger gap among minority students.
It does not matter that the University System of Georgia’s two-year colleges provided remediation for 59 percent of entering students.
All areas that promote student success are essential. But let’s not talk about those education issues ; nothing to see here. Instead, let’s discuss the climate surrounding the state’s high school football championships created by the ineptitude of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA).
Since the snow-out of some of the state football championship games in the Mercedes-Benz stadium, along with the management of announcing the cancelation of the games by the GHSA, many have given their opinion on the continued existence of the organization, and rightly so.
Many families left their communities hundreds of miles away to watch a once-in-a-lifetime moment for their schools and students. However, what this debacle has shown the taxpayers and citizens of Georgia is that the GHSA is obsolete. After 109 years of their unchanging “nonprofit” mindset, their consistent creation of unproductive relationships, creating the ugly face of a “clique mentality” within local school system leaders, and their unwillingness to represent members schools adequately – it is time for a change.
The schools and coaches can coordinate these events themselves without the need of the Georgia High School Association. Frankly, they could do a better job because they are not in it for profit. It is amazing what coaches and teachers can do if they are independent of a stifling bureaucracy. Once the cancelation of the games started, many schools began to possibly plan and coordinate where to play their championship games near more local venues. Consequently, these funds generated from these events could be returned to the local schools instead of to the corporatist mindset of the Georgia High School Association.
I would urge the coaches and stakeholders to rally and push for legislation that would disband the responsibilities of the GHSA. The State Board could bid out the operations of state athletic competitions. If this event came to fruition, the GHSA could be allowed; however, competition can be healthy. I am confident we have groups of coaches and business leaders that can rival and put together a formidable alternative to the GHSA.
Earlier this year, Georgia legislators filed bills (HB 415 and SB 203) to threaten the 109-year-old sports organization. Lawmakers from around the state have said they have received more complaints about the GHSA than anything they see in their home districts. Representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun) dropped HB 415 last year which states that the State Board of Education to allow nonprofits to manage the state’s athletic competitions. These actions caused the GHSA to name a new Executive Director; however, there have been conversations that if GHSA does not get its act together by the end of the fall football season, the bills could very well be filed again in 2018. It looks like that prophecy was fulfilled.
The level of officiating will always be a complaint in high school sports; however, it seems that with all the issues surrounding the GHSA’s governance the officiating has gone to the dogs.
The Peach County High School principal called for a meeting with the Georgia High School Association Board of Trustees to review the controversial call that possibly denied Peach County a state title. The Peach County High letter points out the debacle between Lee County and Johns Creek and how their policies have created such an environment. The Peach County incident is one of many questionable judgments surrounding the GHSA, and it is not isolated to just football. (see letter below)
The transferring of students from one program to another has created a climate among the state’s high schools that only athletics is more important than academics. Georgians relish their community athletic programs, but not at the expense of downplaying its importance on academics with suspicious transfer rules that mirror shady pro-football antics. This is not professional sports; this is high school.
It is clear the GHSA is an organization worried about profit by monopolizing membership fees, live streaming of state events, and less about the stewardship of its coaches and athletes. Consequently, this has created a septic climate within local school systems whereby making a profit off mostly taxpayer-funded facilities has become an entitlement to a select few. The GHSA has created this systemic issue.
The Georgia General Assembly should file HB 415 and SB 203 for the upcoming session as the number of yellow penalty flags continues to mount up for the GHSA.