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Hey coach, we need your help

You guys have an agenda. Why are you against us? What did we ever do to you? Or my all time favorite, how much is that school paying you to give them all that coverage?

In 20 years of sports journalism I have heard it all through phone calls, e-mails and face-to-face meetings from irate readers. It's just one of those things that goes with the territory when you cover sports for a living.

I can also say my responses to these outlandish questions haven't changed much in the two decades I have been in this business.

First, we don't have an agenda. It would be sick for grown men to show favoritism toward a particular high school.

We have nothing against any program in Clayton or Henry County, and for the most part, coaches have been very accommodating to us over the years.

The sports staff at this newspaper would never accept money under the table in order to give a school more coverage. There are things like ethics, and they still exist in this sports department.

The fact is, there are now 17 Henry and Clayton schools in the Georgia High School Association, with more on the way. The math is simple:

In the fall, that breaks down to 17 football teams, 17 softball teams, 17 volleyball teams and 34 cross county squads. Simple addition lets us know there are 82 teams to try and keep up with in the fall.

It doesn't slow down much in the winter since there are 34 basketball teams, 17 wrestling teams and nine schools fielding a boys and girls swim team.

There is no rest for the weary in the spring as 17 baseball teams, 34 soccer teams, 34 track and field teams and as many as 34 golf teams vye for our attention.

What makes working in this area exciting is the competitive nature of all the teams.

Last year, Riverdale and North Clayton gave this community plenty to cheer about with their runs to the Final Four in basketball.

We were at the Gwinnett Arena when they helped bring some positive news to Clayton County with their quest for a state title.

The Jonesboro girls volleyball team has turned into one of the top teams in the state.

Last year, Stockbridge made school history, winning state championships in wrestling at both the dual and traditional competitions.

Henry County won the state duals a few years ago.

Both teams will make another run starting this week.

It was also an exciting time for the Southern Crescent when Henry County won the state title in baseball a few seasons ago.

We were also there for ELCA's back-to-back state titles in softball and a state championship in baseball, and when Luella advanced to the championship round in softball a few seasons ago.

We have also sent athletes on to college from every high school in the Southern Crescent through our scholarship signing stories.

It was so great to see the Clayton State women's basketball team advance to the NCAA Division II Final Four last year, and the men's team earned a first-ever bid to the tournament.

Clayton State is also an important part of the Southern Crescent sports landscape.

Yes, in a perfect world we would have a bigger staff, but right now there are just three of us to try and cover everything, with two part time writers, who help when they can.

There is an answer to the problem. Schools need to call in their information. If coaches don't want to do it themselves, we will take a call from a parent, assistant or scorekeeper. It should take about 30 seconds. We are not asking schools to do our job, we are asking for help.

Yes, this sports department wants to give teams the coverage they deserve, but we can't do it alone.

So help us and call, call, call. The number is posted every day in the newspaper, but here it is again-770-478-5753 Ext. 280.

Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dgorman@news-daily.com.