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Who do we favor this year?

By Jeffrey Armstrong

I went to Henry County High two days ago to cover the first day of softball practice and I was feeling pretty good about it. I'm ready for high school sports to kick in again, so it felt nice to be around athletes trying to make their respective teams.

As I was watching the Ladyhawks practice, I had a sobering thought about the only bad part of high school sports – overzealous parents. I hate to piggyback column ideas, but I just had to put my two cents in about stupid people in my column, just like my sports cohort Anthony Rhoads did on Wednesday.

My focus this week is on those insane people who actually believe that we (the News Daily and Daily Herald sports writers) favor certain high schools over others.

My co-workers and I discuss this issue from time to time and I laugh every time we bring that up. Why on Earth would we favor one school over another? It's absolutely ridiculous. What would we gain from doing that – a free meal at each sports banquet?

Football season was where the favoritism talk started last year. I covered Union Grove's first three football games last season, even going to see them play at Tri-Cities High in East Point. Despite that coverage, UG parents later complained that the Clayton County schools were getting more press than UG and they got their photos in the paper more than UG.

I personally covered UG football five times last year; four regular-season games and one playoff game. My co-workers covered at least one UG playoff game. But I guess that doesn't mean squat since there were no photos and coverage during UG's first home win and there were no photos during UG's region-title road victory over Grady High, a game I covered. Where does it all end?

Other parents think we favor certain teams during certain seasons. Let me see if I can get all this straight: in softball and boys soccer, we favor Henry County High; in volleyball, we favor Morrow, Jonesboro and Eagle's Landing; in football, we favor all the Clayton schools; in girls soccer, it's Jonesboro. Whew! That's a lot to remember and that's only some of the sports in session during the school year. I may have to write all these sports and teams down so I can get my facts straight when it comes to slighting them.

But, maybe I won't have to do that this year. Maybe parents will just stick to cheering for their kids, harassing umpires, referees and officials and praising my coworkers and me for a job well done covering 15 high schools in two counties.

A sad note: Legendary comedian Bob Hope passed away this week at the ripe old age of 100. Hope used to really make me laugh when I was younger. He always had sports figures on his comedy shows, making clever jokes about them – after they walked off the set, of course. He was a funny guy, a good golfer and he always had nice-looking women on his shows. I used to look forward to his Christmas specials for the service men and women overseas as much as I looked forward to seeing classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Year Without a Santa Claus. He will be missed.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.