Banks County Opinions...

July 3, 2001


Column
By Angela Gary
The Banks County News
July 3, 2001

I 'braduated'
Now that I've finally become more adept at looking things up on the Internet, I check in at least once a week to see what's new on the Brad Paisley web site. It's a great resource for fans. And, if you're not a fan, get his CDs, "Who Needs Pictures" and "Part II," and you will be one.
I always enjoy reading the message boards on the web site. Fans leave messages on various topics and others respond to them. A message might lead to 20 or more people responding. Whenever someone "braduates," or meets Brad, they often post a message declaring that they have. Other fans are quick to respond and share their "braduation" stories. By the way, I didn't come up with the "braduation" phrase, it's sprinkled throughout the message board. I don't know who came up with it.
My "braduation" led to a week of worrying about what I would say and what I would wear. Of course, it really didn't matter. Poor Brad had a line of people waiting to meet him and unless you had on something really unusual, like a Santa costume, or said something really bizarre, like, "Mork and Mindy was a great TV show," it's not likely that you'd stand out in the crowd. I might try something like that next time I join a long line waiting to see Brad up close and personal.
Brad is very nice and gracious--despite giving out hundreds of autographs and posing for almost as many photographs. He signed whatever people handed him and was great about it. I had three items and he quickly signed them before posing for a photo.
I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I think I mumbled something like, "That was a great show," in a squeaky voice. I've always had a talent of coming up with clever remarks like that. Brad said, "Thanks, dear" and I was on my way as the next person in the line hurried up for a photograph and autograph.
I didn't make it to his fan club party this year, but plan on going next year. After reading about it on the message board, I hate that I did miss it this year. Brad was there until the wee hours of the morning taking time to go around to every table and meet all of the fans. I hope he keeps this up. Many country stars did this in the "old days," but quickly stopped after they made it big. I can't imagine Brad ever becoming like this, though. I know it's an exhausting event, but it's great when our favorite country stars remember that it is the fans who keep them on top.
Brad's second CD, "Part II," was released just before fan fair this year and the songs were already well known by the fans. It is a great follow-up to "Who Needs Pictures" and has the same humor and warmth. Once again, Brad wrote most all of the songs. One of my favorites is "I'm Gonna Miss Her," a hilarious fishing tale. "Too Country" is also great. It has guest appearances by country greats George Jones, Buck Owens and Bill Anderson.
This time around, Brad has another instrumental "Munster Rag," which makes me want to pull my clogging shoes out of the back of the closet and double-toe.
"Part II" ends on a beautiful note, with a recording of Paisley singing "The Old Rugged Cross" at the Grand Ole Opry on the night he was asked to join. It's wonderful that he always includes a religious song. I would like an entire CD of him doing only gospel music. Many country stars perform religious music, but it is more meaningful when you know that they are sincere. Brad speaks out on being a Christian in interviews, which is another reason he is on the top of my list.
At the concert at Dollywood, Brad summed up what is so great about country music when he said: "It's wonderful to play for country music fans. We're all the same." It's probably the first time I had tears in my eyes at a concert.
Brad also makes you laugh a lot during his concerts. When introducing "Two People Fell in Love," he said his dad was such a dork that his birth was a miracle. He dedicated the song to "all of you who are in love and those of you who are married."
And when introducing a favorite of mine, "Me Neither," Brad said: "I dedicate this to every woman who has ever made us look like a fool. You know who you are." This song has to be one of the funniest country songs ever­and it's so true!
The audience also laughed at his obvious embarrassment over the girls in the audience yelling, "You're so hot." He finally said, "Oh stop, I don't know how to respond." And, in case you're wondering, I was not one of those yelling­even though I can't convince the guys in the audience that I wasn't.
For more information on Brad, check out his web site at www.bradpaisley.com.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald.

Column
By Todd Simons
The Banks County News
July 3, 2001

College sports need a clean up
I am pretty sure that the Knight Foundation Commission means little to most people reading this. Except to the conscience of a few academic bigwigs who have been caught in the middle of their university's greed, it probably means little to anyone.
I need to tell you what the Knight Foundation Commission is. This group of college presidents, UGA's Michael Adams included, has put out a report on college athletics. They are mostly concerned with graduation rates, and for good reason.
Forty-two percent of male NCAA basketball players and 48 percent of the NCAA's football players graduate. Fifty-eight and 52 percent respectively don't graduate.
That is horrible.
High-dollar sports do not need to conflict with the pursuit of educating the nation. The United States is envied for the caliber of universities it has. Every nation in the world wants just one of the better ones.
But many people of the world know the University of North Carolina as the minor league basketball team that Michael Jordan played for.
So, what to do?
The Knight Foundation Commission recommended a few things and I picked the ones I liked and expounded on them.
Get logos off the backs of students.
The fact that we so easily accept that University of Georgia football is sponsored by Nike is crazy. Never in the history of the United States have we been so accepting of the powerful and the faceless. Does Nike get to decide who the starting quarterback is? A "Shockley sells more shoes" style of coaching. Do they decide if he makes a D or an F in English?
I've never heard of such complaints, but Nike, Coca Cola, and Doritos? Who are these people and what do they want from these institutions? (How much money will Coke give to your elementary school before it is appropriate to command two pages in the fourth grade history book?)
If a school doesn't graduate a certain number of its athletes, it doesn't get to play in postseason.
If you are not graduating players then are you not just a minor league. If the Richmond Braves played the Georgia Bulldogs I'd bet on Richmond. The guys are about the same age, and have about the same experience, but the guys in Athens are students; the guys in Richmond are professional athletes.
The point is not how well a school performs. I would imagine that the Duke team that won the NCAA tournament this year could beat a few of the Greek professional basketball squads. The difference is why they exist.
The commission also recommended that basketball and football start a minor league system.
Bravo. I would much rather see Kwame Brown decide out of high school that he is going to put everything he has toward being a basketball player and just skip college, than Kenny Anderson act like he should go to college. Kenny Anderson should have saved the valuable time of those Tech profs and gone on with his business.
Kenny Anderson, and college. Didn't he marry the crazy chick from the Real World? He went to Tech?
Yeh, he went to Tech.
I thought Jumaine Jones was the biggest idiot I had ever rooted for when he went to the pros. He focused on basketball and became a professional basketball player who can be an asset beside Iverson. Congratulations, Jumain. But why did you have to get my hopes up? You are worse than Tubby. (No you aren't)
Well, I guess I made my idealistic point. Even though, as a friend of mine said, "All those changes will make even March madness boring." Maybe they will, but if it means that we quit taking the education system in this country so lightly, then I'm for it.
But I also know that it will probably never happen.
"Is Florida a good school?" the high school senior asked.
"Humph, they were 11-1 last year."
Todd C. Simons is a reporter for The Banks County News


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