High schools lack town support

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

You know you are getting old when you refer to 15 or 20 years ago as the good ole days.

Sitting in front of the computer with just a week before the high school football season opens, I wonder out loud what ever happened to the support of high school football.

It wasn't long ago that I was a cub reporter in Tifton, Ga., which is deep in the heart of some of the best high school football in the country, and I remember when Tift County was gearing up for their first region game of the season with Lowndes High of Valdosta.

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Lowndes was ranked No. 1 in the state at the time and Tift County was ranked a couple notches below in the largest classification in Georgia.

The hype surrounding the game was enormous.

The team that won this game would have the inside track to the region title and this would be the tell-all as to which team is the best in south Georgia.

Tickets were going fast. The banners were hung throughout Tifton. It was akin to the days that Tift County was once again the cream of the crop.

By Friday morning all of the tickets were sold, which meant that there would be at least 12,500 in the stands of the Devils Den. Colleagues from other papers were calling me wanting to get the inside scoop on how this game was going to shake down.

It was a storybook beginning leading up to what was going to be an incredible game. Then the heavens brought enough rain to chase away Noah and his ark.

But it didn't chase away those wanting to see the top teams in the state duke it out. So while the water was about ankle deep along the sidelines during this epic battle, there were at least 11,000 people in the stands enduring a torrential downpour to see the outcome first hand.

Ah, those were the days.

Actually that was less than 10 years ago.

Since then, high school football has lost its luster.

It's hard to even imagine 11,000 people at a high school football game unless it's playoff time.

Here in Greenville there doesn't seem to be that spirit, either.

Those days are gone.

So what happened?

Towns of this size don't rally around their teams like they used to because people are so busy doing other things.

But that's not always the case for the smaller schools in the state. In communities like McKenzie, where the school is the heart of the community, the residents still support their teams the best they can.

But it's still not the same.

High school football has lost its luster even in the small communities.

It's sad, too.

The young men playing and representing their community deserve support not just from family and friends, but everyone within the community. These young men represent your town. They are the figureheads of your town, and they deserve your support.

So when you ponder what you might be doing this upcoming Friday, try taking in a high school football game and support not just the coaches and players on that team, but your community.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. E-mail him at kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.