The Commerce News
February 21, 2001
There's Too Much 'Honor' In Sports
Hopefully, by now all of the words have been said about the great
competitive cheerleading controversies in both this newspaper
and in The Jackson Herald. We can move on.
I'm of the opinion that we give our kids too much recognition
for athletic achievement. More than most of the kids would want.
Can't any team compete and succeed without someone deciding they
need to be "honored?" Isn't the joy of competition
sufficient reward on its own?
Apparently not. And it's not the coaches or the athletic department
or the recreation department that are recognition happy. It's
the fans and the parents who insist that every child receive
a certificate if not a trophy and that winning teams get resolutions
from everyone from the town council to the General Assembly.
Athletics give the kids recreational activities in a competitive
environment. Whether it's Mite League baseball or varsity football,
athletics is for recreation. It offers a lot more of course.
We hope kids learn teamwork, responsibility, sportsmanship and
the work ethic. It offers recognition in a society where sports
is of keen interest. And the kids who excel often provide wonderful
publicity for our communities.
But somehow, the adults have the notion that kids must always
be publicly honored for their achievements. It's not enough that
they have fun; they must be publicly honored for having fun.
I assure you that the 2000 Commerce Tigers got enough satisfaction
and honor out of winning the state football championship that
they couldn't care less about signs at the city limits noting
that accomplishment. They might get a kick out of seeing them,
but if it hadn't been put up no Tiger would have retained a lawyer.
Nothing written in this paper, placed on a resolution by the
mayor and council or put on certificates by the board of education
can come close to the joy the Tigers got out of big wins in the
Georgia Dome and in the final game; they'll remember the thrills
of the game long after they've tossed their copies of certificates
and resolutions into the trash and put the trophies in the attic.
Perhaps no one is more guilty of laying on the honors than we
in the newspaper business. The victories and losses of the Tigers
and Dragons, Braves and Falcons, are played up as though they
were of great importance. We name our own all-star teams, pick
"players of the week" We elevate athletics to the level
of world affairs. It sells newspapers and it provides a diversion
from the sometimes dismal news of the real world.
My observation is that the kids' egos are not as tender as we
think. They don't need to be constantly told how wonderful they
are or presented with honors at every turn. They get the satisfaction
of playing well, of beating someone they were supposed to lose
to, of contributing to a team's victory. They enjoy the fellowship
unique to team sports and the pride of workmanship.
The kids recognize what's important. It's how you play the game,
not how many trumped up awards you receive. The real honors are
won on the field, not at the banquet, board meeting or on an
The Jackson Herald
February 21, 2001
rezoning request needs another look
Opposition from area residents caused a commercial rezoning request
in Jefferson to be withdrawn last week. The request to rezone
six acres at Storey Lane and Hwy. 129 for an office building
was opposed because some area residents didn't want to allow
access off Storey Lane to the site.
While we understand people living in residential areas wish to
resist the encroachment of commercial projects, in this case
such opposition appears to be misguided.
For one thing, the property faces a major highway. It is in a
natural location for commercial development. And although residents
may believe having access to the property off Hwy. 129 would
be better, in reality it would be much worse. The proximity of
another turning point close to the entrance of Storey Lane would
create more of a traffic hazard, not less of one.
Moreover, if the access were to be off Hwy. 129, there could
not be restrictions over the nature of the commercial business
located on that six acres. It would open the property for a high-traffic
business, such as a convenience store, which would have much
more of an impact on the community than a small office building.
Frankly, we believe the use of that corner lot for an office
building is much preferable to its being developed in other ways.
Agreeing to Storey Lane access in return for limiting future
commercial development of the property seems to us a fair trade
that would benefit, not hurt, area residents.
Those living along Storey Lane may not like the idea of an office
building at the end of their road. But at some point, that corner
will be developed - if not with the proposed office building,
then with something which could have a much more negative impact.
The proposal deserves another look by the city and by residents
along Storey Lane. If this opportunity is lost, residents will
have won a battle, but very likely lost the war.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
February 21, 2001
OK, newcomers, let's have a heart-to-heart talk. This newspaper
covers a lot of growth-related issues in Jackson County and more
and more new residents are attending public meetings to air gripes
about rezonings or infrastructure issues.
That's fine. I applaud your interest in making Jackson County
a better place.
But there's a couple of things you might consider that would
make your voices stronger.
First, please don't tell us that you moved to Jackson County
to "get away from growth." Frankly, it makes you sound
foolish. After all, you moved here and in doing so, are part
of the "growth" which you now protest. Take a guess
about what your neighbors said when you moved here.
For some reason, many new residents seem to believe that their
arrival in Jackson County was special, but that everyone else's
arrival is due to "sprawl." Local governments cannot
slam the door shut to other newcomers any more than they could
Second, don't constantly compare the local institutions to other
places you've lived. One of the tradeoffs in living in a rural
area is that services you are accustomed to often aren't close
by. The size and scope of existing institutions often don't measure
up to those in other places either. Part of that is perhaps due
to inattention on the part of local leaders, but many times it's
simply due to having fewer resources. When you compare the services,
also consider the resources before you castigate the local leadership.
(There's plenty of things to scold local leaders about; just
make sure you're being fair in those comparisons.)
Third, don't tell local leaders you don't want Jackson County
to become "another Gwinnett." That line is starting
to become a meaningless cliché. All too often, those who
shout the loudest about the evils of "becoming another Gwinnett"
are themselves being disingenuous. They get in their cars every
morning and drive to work in Gwinnett County. They eat in the
evenings at restaurants in Gwinnett County. They shop and entertain
on the weekends in Gwinnett County. So it sounds foolish to demonize
Gwinnett County when you are so entangled in what it offers.
If you want Jackson County to avoid the infrastructure problems
of Gwinnett County, then support local leaders as they attempt
to put infrastructure in place here to handle the area's growth.
Talking about infrastructure, the opposition
to the county's sewer line along the Middle Oconee River and
Doster Creek basins is an example of some people being misguided
and uninformed. The sewer line is a main trunk line and therefore
needs to be gravity flow. Since water runs downhill, the lowest
elevation for such a line will usually be along stream and river
drainage areas. The suggestion by some that the line should be
along Hwy. 124, which runs along a ridge, is untenable.
But even more disturbing were some comments that suggested the
developers of Mulberry Plantation somehow got special treatment.
That is not the case. It is true that the initial client base
for the line will come from that project, but it's also true
that Mulberry's participation with the county in the project
allowed the county to enter the sewerage business in a cost-effective
way. It was, in short, a good deal for both parties.
Admittedly, the communications from the water and sewerage authority
to landowners affected by the line should have been better, but
that lack of communication skills doesn't mean the project itself
No matter how you feel about growth, it's going to happen anyway.
If you want to avoid "becoming another Gwinnett," then
local leaders need your support in building the infrastructure
to support the weight of that growth.
The problems in Gwinnett County are due to a lack of infrastructure
- roads, water, school buildings, etc. Shutting down infrastructure
won't shut down growth, it will only magnify the problems growth
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
February 21, 2001
Better Ways To
Curb Teen Driving Deaths
The tendency of government to solve every problem by passing
a new law is aptly demonstrated by the General Assembly's discourse
on teen driving.
That debate is in response to the highly publicized deaths of
scores of Metro area teenagers in cars over the past couple of
years. Gov. Roy Barnes thinks age is the problem; more likely,
it's driving experience. The governor proposes to prohibit 16-year-olds
from driving without adult supervision in 16 Metro Atlanta counties.
A better proposal would be to allow 16-year-olds to drive statewide
but to curtail after-dark driving (unless a licensed adult is
present). One legislator even pointed out that with "away"
athletic events ending at 10:00 at night, a 10:00 curfew might
encourage students to speed as they drove home from such games.
Sixteen-year-old drivers shouldn't be driving home from "away"
games at night, except under the supervision of experienced adults.
That's exactly the kind of situation that causes many of the
problems with young people on the highways. Their parents let
them do too much too soon. Because parents allow their children
to drive without restriction, because parents hand over the keys
to a car on a child's 16th birthday, a lot of kids are driving
without sufficient experience.
Learning to be a safe driver takes time. Some legislators think
all it requires is passage of a driver education course. Whether
kids start driving solo at 16 or 17, experience is a crucial
factor. Maturity is another. Some teens are mature enough to
drive at 16, some at 17, some at 18, and responsible parents
will treat their teenagers accordingly.
If safety is the issue, there are other things that would have
a greater effect statewide:
·Georgia is ignoring a group of drivers far more likely
than teenagers to cause fatal accidents. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
recently published an excellent analysis of the state's failure
to keep dangerous drivers off the road. Typically males between
20 and 30, these drivers have lost their licenses for multiple
traffic offenses including drunk driving, reckless driving, speeding
and other offenses. Most have also had multiple accidents. Yet
they're back on the road, utilizing so-called "DUI school"
courses to get their licenses back quickly, and then go through
the same process again. Statistically, they are much more dangerous
than 16-year-old drivers.
·The State Patrol and most Georgia law enforcement agencies
do not have the personnel to adequately enforce speeding laws
designed to promote public safety. It would seem prudent that
before the state passes new laws it enforce those already on
the books. That approach will enrage some voters ticketed for
doing 65 in a 50 mph zone, but posted speed limits are virtually
·Georgia again wants to lower its threshold for DUI. Before
the state creates more drunk drivers, it should determine why
offenders under the current law keep driving, conviction after
conviction. Don't pour more water into a leaky cup; fix the cup
·Parents must be responsible. Many of the parents now
lobbying for tighter restrictions on young drivers are doing
so out of guilt for letting their own kids drive before they
were ready. A lot of those children who died would be alive if
the drivers' parents had been responsible.
We delude ourselves if we turn to the legislature to solve problems
whose cause is in our own communities. The solution is for parents
to be more responsible and for government to make enforcment
of existing laws a priority.