After stopping the car in the parking lot I stepped into a world I was very familiar with.
There were whistles, sounds of cheering and an energy that brought back a lot of memories and a very welcome smile.
I was at Long County High School last week and the Blue Tide was going through the final paces of an hour-long practice in shorts. Head Coach JT Pollock and the assistant coaches barked orders as the team ran through plays hustling in first and second units on and off the field.
To my right the Lady Blue Tide was playing softball and the cheers and encouragement from the fans could be heard over the whistles of the football field.
It was comforting to know this Friday night the Blue Tide will be hosting Berrien in its first game of the season. In fact, it was almost apparent that the players on the squad knew they were getting closer to that first game.
The two teams in Bryan County, Richmond Hill High School and Bryan County’s Redskins are also getting ready for their first games this Friday night. The excitement of game week has been growing as those two teams get closer to that opening night against Camden County and Butler.
In Liberty County, the stadiums will be dark.
There will be no fans. There will be no whistles and the athletes in fall sports are feeling no excitement of opening night.
I keep coming back to the question why?
Why are our neighboring counties getting ready and already enjoying fall sports? Why are the hundreds of athletes in Liberty being deprived of this type of excitement and participation? And, more importantly, why are the athletes who had dreams of playing college sports, possibly on scholarship, being denied the opportunity?
The majority of the athletes affected won’t play college sports, but they also are being deprived of that feeling of self-worth as well as being part of a team environment which is so critical to self-development.
Parents have been outraged at the decision to shut down Liberty County sports and how it appears the decision was made by a few people and not the majority.
Liberty County’s Covid-19 numbers are comparatively low to other Georgia counties, so again, the question is why?
Much like the states that are home to college sports teams in the Big 10 and Pac-12, those athletes have been deprived the opportunity to play sports which could and will hurt their earning power as they strive to move forward with a possible professional career.
The logic used by the Big 10 and Pac-12 was faulty at best, and now some are saying they conference may be rethinking their stance. That rethinking also might be because some of the football players are filing a lawsuit against the conference for denying them the opportunity to play and not fulfilling their scholarship agreement.
It’s too late. The sports world has moved on without you Big 10 and Pac-12.
Liberty County schools are going to be left behind as well when it’s all said and done.
Georgia’s high schools are moving forward with fall sports and while there may be some bumps in the road at least the majority of the state has taken a step forward toward normalcy.
The buzz words of “optics” and “risk factors” can be thrown around as easily as any that we hear in today’s world, but right now, the “optics” in Liberty County aren’t very good and Bryan County and Long County are going to come out the winners both on and off the field.
If you see me say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is publisher for the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News. He can be reached at email@example.com and at 912-876-0156.