My brethren downtown might feel that the wheels of justice have turned appropriately in the investigation of a bunch of Hancock County football players beating a Warren County football coach into surgery, but I’m not buying it.
When the Hancock County sheriff talks to the media to defend his county’s players, and then you find that the forewoman of the grand jury is an employee of the school system, something smells an awful lot like home cooking.
Now: In high school sports, that sort of thing used to be common. Not student athletes beating coaches in the face with helmets; that came later. No, it used to be that referees were sometimes accused of helping out the home team. One of the better changes in the system was the long-ago switch to a system in which referees are unaffiliated with the schools, making it a little easier for them to be impartial.
What hasn’t changed, unfortunately, is the level of intensity that has gone into some schools’ support of their teams. It’s no coincidence that the word “fan” is derived from “fanatic.” But what kind of world are we creating when kids can get so amped up about a football game that they’d bash an opposing team’s coach with a helmet?
Just as I’m not convinced that Hancock County’s criminal justice system has done all it should in this case, I’m also not optimistic that the notoriously wimpy Georgia High School Association will make any meaningful changes – such as, for example, suspending Hancock from any sports until the students involved in this melee are banned from participation.
It would be good news to think the coach will get his day in court with civil action, but let’s be realistic: Hancock County is one of our areas more impoverished communities, and the students involved in the fracas aren’t likely to have the resources to provide a proper payday.
At bare minimum in all this: If Hancock County pops up on the schedule of any Columbia County schools, our folks had better find someone else to play. Even a forfeit is better than a cracked skull.
Speaking of cracked skulls, I should have my head examined for agreeing to take a turn as a dealer Saturday for the Columbia County Charity Gala.
The News-Times is one of the annual event’s sponsors, and we try to help out where we can. The event raises money this year for three endeavors – the Columbia County Arts Development fund, Columbia County Cares food pantry, and Teenage Years 101 – so it’s all for a good cause.
And I’m certainly not much of a card player. Fortunately, because the stakes are all imaginary anyway (no one is allowed to actually win anything; gambling is legal only for the government in Georgia), it won’t matter if I screw up while dealing to other players. Good thing.
The black-tie-optional event starts at 7 p.m. at Savannah Rapids Pavilion, and costs $80 for a single ticket or $150 for a couple. For information, call (706) 312-7192. Come say hello; I’ll deal you a hot hand.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/