The Jackson Herald
June 6, 2001
Change outlook on drinking
Nineteen-year-old Jeana Bush has been arrested twice in as many
months for drinking underage and many people are calling for
an example to be made of her. For a stiff penalty and maybe even
jail time. Yet I think we need to look at why Jeana was drinking
when she was underage.
I was told countless times that just because "Suzy"
was doing it didn't mean that I should do it, too. But when Suzy,
Jon, Michelle, Billy, Erica, Zach, Dan, Mike, Jennifer and every
other college student is doing it, maybe we should re-evaluate
what is right and what is wrong.
Don't drink until you're 21. That's the law. That's three years
after you can vote to elect the president. Three years after
you're eligible to be drafted into war.
The age was lowered during the height of the Vietnam War amid
protests that men were dying for their country, but were unable
to walk into a bar and order a beer. It was raised again after
an outbreak of alcohol-related accidents. Obviously, 18-year-olds
were too immature to understand the seriousness of drinking alcohol.
In many European countries, teenagers can drink at 16 when their
parent or guardian is present and at 18 without their parents.
But Europe has fewer alcohol-related accidents than the United
States, according to data released in 1996. I think the reason
alcohol-related accidents increased in the U.S. after the drinking
age was raised was a matter of outlook. The way Americans view
drinking versus the way Europeans view drinking.
In Europe, wine is just another beverage and is commonly drunk
with dinner or lunch. Children are given watered-down wine and
drinking alcohol is just another part of dinner. It's a family
affair. But parents in America generally don't teach their children
how to drink responsibly. They just tell their teenagers don't
do it. Kids may see that their parents drink only one glass of
wine or only on special occasions, but they also see their parents
wearing outdated fashions and listening to Barry White. Once
teenagers are away from their parents' watchful eyes and in a
college setting, alcohol becomes the necessary ingredient for
a good time. Drinking because white wine brings out the flavor
of chicken is not even heard of. Drinking because you want to
get drunk, that's the general idea. And kids aren't waiting until
they're 21. They just aren't getting caught at it. They're not
the president's daughter.
Americans need to talk with their kids about alcohol use. Bring
it to the dinner table before 18-year-olds go off to college
and get the wrong idea. What could it hurt? Wine has redemptive
qualities for the heart and blood system. Make a glass of wine
every week or so part of a special family dinner. Water it down
if you don't want your 17-year-old drinking it straight. You
just might alter your child's thinking so that when she gets
to college, drinking isn't all her peers make it out to be.
(You might want to know what my qualifications are for offering
this advice. In May of 2000, I graduated from Agnes Scott College,
a school voted "stone cold sober" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
during my stint there. There was a much more moderate crowd there
than at the University of Georgia, yet we still learned the words
to "Beer, beer, beer for old Agnes Scott" before our
first year was over.)
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet
The Jackson Herald
June 6, 2001
again exposes GHSA putridity
Last year, the Georgia High School Association showed the entire
state just how badly it wanted to play political games with House
Speaker Tom Murphy over his demand for reclassification of private
If the reclassification of 2000 left any doubt as to that fact,
the proposed 2002-04 classifications received by member schools
last week should remove that doubt.
The GHSA will no doubt claim its hands are tied and say something
on the order of "that's just how the numbers worked out."
That's at least partially true; the latest reclassification follows
the same guidelines set up for last year's. The problem is that
those guidelines were flawed.
The one-year five-classification experiment seems to have worked
in most areas, but certainly not in Class A football. A system
which allows 12 Class A football teams to qualify for the state
tournament without having to win a single game is nothing short
Aside from a handful of teams in other sports reaching the playoffs
when they probably shouldn't, the system otherwise worked well,
in spite of itself.
Unless some significant changes are made within the next year,
don't expect that to happen during the 2002-03 school year. The
competition pool that dropped last year will be nearly drained
The best solution is to do away with the one-fifth in each classification
rule, as Commerce head football coach Steve Savage proposed this
week. That would still keep most private schools out, and increase
the number of sports-active schools in Class A.
In fact, the smallest 17 schools in the proposed Class AA could
be moved back to Class A, with only two private schools (Providence
and Walker) included in that number. And guess what - 15 of the
17 will have full-time football programs this year. The other
two? Providence and Walker.
Under the current proposal, only 47 schools in Class A will have
full-fledged football programs in 2001. Two of those will petition
to move into Class AA. That leaves 45. Adding 15 back would make
60. Any idiot can see that's a better situation.
The other classifications could be easily modified in accordance,
with the difference either split among the other four or completely
made up in Class AAAAA, where virtually every member school has
a full athletic slate.
So why isn't the GHSA doing such a thing? Simple. Tom Murphy
had to have his way, and the GHSA complied. And although they
could make some minor adjustments to the system to make it work,
they're too petty to do so. It's all a political game, and both
Murphy and the GHSA want to win, even if high school athletes
and sports fans lose.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson
Herald. He may be reached at the sports desk at 367-2348, or
via email at SpeckCh@aol.com.
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