More Jackson County Opinions...

 November 15, 2000

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
November 15, 2000

A presidential race farce
It amazes and confounds me that a country that rose to superpowerdom in less than 225 years can't determine the results of an election in 24 hours. I expect to hear the results of the election when I turn on the radio Wednesday morning. After living amidst political signs and debates for months, I want a swift end. Then, when Florida touts their legal privilege to take days to recount ballots and declares that they will wait a week for absentees, I wonder why Florida relishes the limelight. The only thing the recounts prove is inefficiency. And the fact that the state is taking days to do it, instead of hours, only proves my point.
And then the Sunshine State says they want to do a hand count. Computers and machines are designed to eliminate human error, yet Floridians want the United States government to accept the results of a hand count over two counts done by machines? I don't think we should. I haven't even mentioned the possibility of human bias tainting the count. What is supposed to stop a strong Gore supporter from not counting votes for Bush? I can't decide if this is the worst thing to happen to a democracy or the best. It could be the best if I believed that the Democrats were interested in determining who legally is the next president and not interested in putting their candidate in the White House.
I'm not the only one confounded. The Washington Post printed a story by T.R. Reid Thursday which said: "An enthralled but bewildered world watched the planet's most powerful democracy choosing its leader, both amused and disturbed by the turmoil in America's electoral system. Some of the verdicts today were harsh: 'A mockery.' 'Chaotic.' 'A nation in limbo, a Constitution in crisis.'"
The announcement of Bush's victory prompted leaders of Britain, Germany and China to send premature congratulations to Bush that they later had to rescind.
In Argentina, the daily newspaper Clarin, wrote: "With all their state-of-the-art graphics, fun little computer models, split screens of information, and groups of political analysts, U.S. television was at the pinnacle of technology for the first election of the 21st century. But all that technological paraphernalia didn't help them."
The most startling quote I read came from David Smith, a British correspondent with the Channel 4 news. He said: "It makes a mockery of the orderly transfer of power that their founding fathers envisioned." The "It" he refers to is not clear in the quote, but I think we can pick several its our founding fathers wouldn't have anticipated. The Democrats taking their loss to the courts not once, but multiple times. The possibility that a judge may rule that Florida's election ballots are invalid even though both parties approved the ballots before November 7. Or the big "it," which has led Gore and the Democrats into being sore losers: the media announcing the winner without considering the impact of absentee ballots or questioning the accuracy of their exit polls. My husband and I flipped between the four major network channels for election coverage. We saw a lot of posturing and conjectures, a lot of pretty maps, and several updates on the state of the crowds at the candidate's respective residences. But we didn't see a single network that had the same number of electoral votes ascribed to the candidate. In fact, when we went to bed around ten, one network was ready to hand the laurels to Bush, while another wanted to give Gore the win.
Yet I sit waiting expectantly for this latest drama to play out flipping between the major networks for the latest news from Florida.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet Newspapers.

By Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
November 15, 2000

Class A playoffs: the good, the bad and the ugly
When the GHSA engaged its massive realignment last spring, nearly everyone involved with the sport of football cried foul. Schedules had long been completed, and with every region in every classification changing, those schedules were rendered useless. That left coaches with a logistical nightmare, and very little time to sort it all out.
One of the most incredible things the realignment brought about was the automatic playoff berths enjoyed by 12 class A teams. A multitude of people ­ this reporter among them ­ expressed their distaste for that result (just for clarification, it is this reporter's opinion that the realignment itself was a good decision, but the region determinations were nothing short of stupid).
Now that the brackets have been filled out, it seems the uproar may have been justified, at least in most cases.
Class A regions 1, 5 and 8 all entered the 2000 football season with only four teams, giving all four in each region automatic spots in the playoffs. A cursory glance at season records show those 12 teams have a combined record of ­ are you ready for this? ­ 64 wins, 56 losses. That's a winning percentage of .533. Very impressive for playoff-bound teams, huh?
Of course, statistical geniuses will argue that since those teams must play one another during the regular season, the number of losses will naturally be inflated.
Okay, so let's remove region losses, with the understanding that we must also remove region wins.
Each of the 12 teams played three region games. That's 36 games. Since there can only be one winner and one loser, that means the region records were 18-18. Take that off the original total, and we're left at 46-38 in non-region contests. That's a little better. Now our winning percentage is up to .547. Yippee!
Thank goodness for region 8 teams, who finished 24-4 in non-region games. Without Commerce, Buford, Jefferson and Wesleyan, the record drops to an abysmal 22-34 (.392).
Now, I know this all means virtually nothing, except that you can count on regions 1 and 5 being almost out of sight after this week's opening round.
The problem is, the realignment diminishes the quality of the playoff games. If a team qualifies for post-season play, they should at least have a winning record. It should be noted, by the way, that House Speaker Tom Murphy's home team of Bremen made the playoffs with an 8-2 record, good for third in the region.
Teams like Landmark Christian, Heard County and Lanier County don't belong in the playoffs. Between the three of them, they went 3-27 on the season, and one of those three wins was head-to-head. It's an abomination to the competitive spirit that high school football should be all about.
This reporter has picked against Jefferson and been wrong on more than one occassion this season. I didn't think you were a playoff caliber team, guys.
I was wrong.
Good luck to both Commerce and Jefferson in the state playoffs!
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson Herald. He may be reached at 367-2348, or via email at

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