Cheater-( a person who acts dishonestly in order to gain an advantage!!!)
By Joe Joe Wright
Everyone needs a system of checks and balances. I think most any sensible adult will agree with that statement. Yes, that also includes President Trump, as well as the all-powerful Georgia High School Association.
Many of you may recall in or around the year 2000, then Speaker of the House Tom Murphy launched a campaign to show the GHSA who was boss. As the story goes, his little granddaughters debate team or One Act Play team (I really don’t recall which one it was) placed second to a private school participating in Class Single A. The GHSA didn’t want any part of the most powerful House Speaker in America, and a solution was soon found to the problem.
A few years later, about 50 Single A public schools had become completely disenchanted with the way private schools participating in GHSA sports had a huge advantage over them. The reason was, well in a nutshell, “recruiting” statewide for players. You see, if you go out and get players from another school system that don’t belong in your school system for the sole purpose of their athletic prowess, well, you are what one would call a CHEATER. What is worse, you are teaching our youth that this is ok. Well, it ain’t! Many years ago, kids moving into and out of school systems were monitored by GHSA and dealt with in an abrupt manner. Now days, you get a phone call asking you – what’s up? In other words, nothing happens. GHSA doesn’t make any waves. The old saying of “useless as screen door in a submarine” comes to mind. All bark, no bite! Just looking at the state of things in our state today, I am not even sure they can rein in the problems. It comes down to politics in sports (I wrote about that one time) and sitting on the fence in a political climate. When you sit on a fence, that brings up another old cliché. “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” It is amazing how true those old statements can be, isn’t it? One thing that troubles me about GHSA is accountability. You see, in those times when a real challenge to their authority was put forward, they more or less backed down. They don’t want the state legislature ruling over them in any manner. Now what they do like is having authority over public funds (school systems money) without having to be elected to office to do so. Yes, they govern how all school systems can and will spend a certain amount of their taxpayer funds. Not all of it, but some of it. My point is… there really isn’t any “meat and potatoes” oversight. Prime example – Walk into the office in Thomaston and tell them you want to look in to all of their financials per the open records act and see where that gets you.
Back long years ago, some of you will remember him and some of you will not. A man named Wright Bazemore was the head football coach for Valdosta High School. It was during his tenure, which was very a long time ago, that he was often accused of recruiting, stacking the deck, i.e., cheating by bringing in players from other venues to play high school football. It was said the Bazemore and his alumni would go so far as to get mom and dad jobs in Valdosta so that “little Johnny” could play football for the Wildcats.
Well, you all know how rumors are, but it certainly was spread far and wide. Bazemore was more than just a successful high school football coach. I mean by anyone’s calculations, he was a phenomena. Bazemore retired from coaching in 1973 and after he left the great, Nick Hyder took over at Valdosta and he was almost as phenomenal. If you ask any of the older coaches from back in that era if those men were guilty of skating around the eligibility rules, they will all say HECK YEAH!! Well, I wasn’t involved or had no knowledgeable about such things from 1941to 1971 (28 seasons) or on to the mid 1990’s for that matter.
Today though, I kind of keep up with the happenings around the state and though I do not have any direct proof at this point in time about any particular cheating incidents taking place in Georgia, I do have an old adage I love to use in these instances and it goes: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, there is a very good chance that it is a duck. Basically, my RADAR ears are up now, and I am scoping around the state for signs of cheating. They aren’t hard to find. I mean, if you win state titles after state titles like schools in north Georgia have been doing the last 20 plus years. There are hundreds of reports from schools in counties all around Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah where accusations of players jumping ship from one school to another are taking place. Another old truism is that where there is smoke there is fire. Anyway, we need to keep our eyes and ears open and gather real physical evidence of such activities so GHSA is forced to do the right thing. If not, then I am all about us borrowing about 4 or so players from Jimmy Hughes and the Dooly Bobcats and another 4 or so from Mark Ledford and the Wilcox squad. Let’s take on Colquitt County, and hey, bring on big bad Buford while you at it. ( Sarcasm) As always, I welcome your comments.