Let#039;s fill those bleachers!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2001

Imagine, if you will, that you are a high school athlete.

Just for a moment, put yourself in the position of those fine young men and women, the ones that have sacrificed all year, just so they could represent the Alma Mater in competition against those of other schools.

Now, how would it feel if you came running out from the locker rooms to be greeted by the cheerleader line-up, and heard the announcer call out your name and position over the loudspeaker, for all to hear?

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Pretty good so far, you might say.

But (yes, there is always one) when you look up from the court to the bleachers, you see just how shiny the varnish on the bleacher seats are, and ever so many feet, there are two or sometimes three people sitting together, talking.

Not the same feeling anymore, is it?

Well my friends, that is what it looked like at the GHS Tiger Gymnasium on Monday night.

And this was supposed to be "Senior Night"the opportunity to honor the players that had been on the team the longest, and struggled the hardest to play for their school.

People, the truth of the matter is simple. We complain all of the time about this one doing that, or that one doing this, or get told, "there's nothing to do", now really, can we honestly say that there is nothing to do, when there are plenty of seats to be filled in the gym?

Keep in mind, that unlike in generations past, the students that choose to participate in extra-curricular activities must maintain certain standards in order to have the privilege.

If for one moment anyone thinks that students get carried through classes just to stay on the teams, I'm here to tell you they are sadly mistaken.

If grades start to falter, the students must go through tutoring, in attempts to bring them back up.

And when that doesn't work, they get suspended from the teams.

Priority one in our school system is education first, then all else.

And don't even try to go there thinking that kids in general are getting into trouble all

the time.

The sports programs in our community will not tolerate it!

I think Greenville Athletics Director Terry Moore best said it at the end of the football season, when he said that the Greenville athletes are ambassadors of the school, along with the teachers, and most importantly, the parents.

If a student can not be held in high regard in the community, then there is no place for them in school athletics.

Remember, these are the students that juggle cram-sessions for tests, avoid temptations to get into mischief, and practice every day after school, all so that they can represent their fellow students, and make their families proud of them.

And proud we all should be.

So proud that there is standing-room-only in the gymnasiums.

Yeah, that's the ticketshow the kids that what they are doing is honorable, and that you appreciate their dedication to good, wholesome living, and also the comradery that they exhibit on the playing courts and fields.

In all

the games that I have gone to this basketball season, I can honestly only say that there was one game that comes to mind where fans were turned away because of safety regulations regarding excessive occupancy capacities.

That was the game in which Calhoun came down from Lowndes County to play against Greenville.

But the worst part of it all was that most of the crowd came down with the visiting team.

That is outrageously ridiculous.

And it doesn't just end with the public schools.

I can remember when people had to park at Super Foods to walk in to the games at Greenville Academy, and cars were parked halfway back up Gamble Street to College Street for spectators at Fort Dale Academy.

I have been to many athletic meets over the past three seasons, and I think that we need more participation from the community for the sake of our students.

I, for one, would rather have my children by my side, enjoying an outing to watch sports together, than to wonder what they were doing, if they were safe, and if they were getting into trouble somewhere.

I'll get down off of my soapbox now, and I hope that there will be standing-room-only for Lady Tigers' area tournament this Friday and next Monday night.

Send our children a message, and tell them that you support them, and I'll see you on the courts, or out in deep left field.