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GHSA drops the ball

By Anthony Rhoads

The Georgia High School Association definitely dropped the ball.

Monday, a proposal to go back to four classifications didn't even make it out of the reclassification committee.

The plan originally came about to help solve travel problems many teams are facing. Now, many teams have to travel great distances even when they are playing in region contests.

Going back to four classifications would help alleviate some of those problems.

Excessive travel not only hurts the teams' performance on the field of play but it hurts the student-athletes' academics, which is what it's all about to begin with.

The GHSA should not have gone to five classifications but the organization bowed down to pressure from former State Speaker of the House Tom Murphy. Murphy, from Bremen, wanted his local high school to do better so he put pressure on the GHSA to restructure its classification system. For many years, Murphy wielded so much power in the state it was basically a situation where Murphy got whatever he wanted so when he told the GHSA to jump, they said ?how high?'

The GHSA should have had the courage to stand up to that power-hungry, wannabe dictator but it seemed like the GHSA more than happily surrendered to his wishes.

As part of the restructuring, the classifications were increased to five.

One only has to look at what happened during the first year of the five-classification system to see what was wrong with it.

When the five-classification first came into effect in 2000, Evans-Augusta was put in with schools from Clayton, Henry, Coweta and Fayette counties.

You don't have to be a geography expert to see what's wrong with that picture. During the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years, local teams had to travel all the way to Augusta for region games. As tough as it was on local teams, it was tougher on Evans because when the school had to play away games in Region 4-AAAAA, it meant bus rides of around three hours one way.

The problem could have been avoided entirely if the GHSA had stayed with four classifications. But it's way too late to go back now and think about what might have been.

Monday, the GHSA had a chance to rectify a mistake it made but in typical GHSA fashion, the organization made the wrong decision.

One concern about going back to four classifications was that fewer teams would make the state playoffs.

With the way the system is set up now, a team doesn't really have to excel to make the state playoffs. Far too many mediocre teams are making the state playoffs right now.

Back in the four-classification system, mediocre or downright bad teams did make the state playoffs occasionally but it happened less frequently than it does now.

Not a Murphy fan: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't hold Tom Murphy in high regard when it comes to politics.

Here was a guy who came into the state legislature as a pro-segregationist and later defended his actions because he said it was what his constituents wanted.

If he had been for integration, he should have stood his ground, even if it meant he would not get re-elected. But like many politicians, his opinions were swayed more by public opinion rather than strong personal conviction.

I also think that Murphy wielded way too much power as Speaker of the House. Our system was not created to give someone that much power but it seems like some voters are too ignorant to really know what it's all about.

When Murphy was in office, he kept sending pork back to his home district and as long as the dollars kept coming back them, the voters kept electing him year after year.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily and his columns appear Wednesdays. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com .