More Jackson County Opinions...

May 08, 2002


Column
By: Tim Thomas
The Jackson Herald
May 08, 2002

GHSA should approve 32-school “super” class
A story posted on the Georgia Varsity Sports Vent website (www.gavsv.com) earlier this week claims that the Georgia High School Association is considering a 32-school “super” classification, made up of the largest 32 schools in the state. The story claims the proposal will be considered at the June 4 meeting of the GHSA Executive Committee.
This of course brings up several questions, not the least of which is: What is the worst thing the GHSA can do with this proposal? Answer that, and you’ll know the likely outcome. If past actions are any indication, the GHSA will be more than willing to put one more bullet in the chamber before shooting itself in the foot.
Assuming the GHSA can (or is willing to) find a way through any potential logistical problems (I know, that’s assuming a lot), the super classification could potentially ease any bad feelings over the recent addition of a fifth class. If done right, adding a super class could bring great improvement. If done wrong . . . well, there’s no telling what might happen.
If the GHSA decides to simply add a sixth classification, things could get ugly in a hurry. The competitive pool in the lower classes is already so weak, new rules regarding state playoff eligibility have been necessary in some sports. A further weakening further up the ladder would only make things worse.
If, however, the GHSA decides to keep those 32 larger schools in Class AAAAA and adjust the other four class sizes accordingly, the current situation could be improved. Which means it likely won’t happen.
The fifth classification was purportedly added, in part, in an attempt to level the playing field between public and private schools in smaller classifications.
Unfortunately, that goal has not been attained, as even a casual glance at the 2002 basketball and baseball brackets will show. Though public schools have fared better in football, the state bracket was still too full of private schools, based on their representative percentage within the classification. Even with (or perhaps due to) the incredible drain from the competitive pool that has resulted, private schools continue to hold an advantage in virtually every sport.
Beyond the big three sports is an alarmingly low participation rate in what some might consider “fringe” sports such as cross country and wrestling. The incredible lack of competition in these sports and others in Class A will only become worse next year with the departure of schools like Buford and Wesleyan. The Region 8-A track and field meet next year will be a virtual farce.
The bottom line is, more member schools are needed in Class A. Dropping the private-school weighting factor is one possible solution, but a more plausible one would be to simply increase the percentage of member schools allotted to Class A. Such a move could easily be made along with the proposed change in Class AAAAA.
As for the private-public controversy, it seems there may be no clear solution to the problem. Leveling the playing field is one thing, but there comes a point when one must ask: Is the removal of schools like Wesleyan and Walker from Class A worth seeing Tallulah Falls competing for a state track title in 2003?
More often than not, athletes compete either up or down to the levels of their opponents. While a state championship earned in a watered-down classification may make someone feel good, it doesn’t do anything to encourage athletes to improve their performance.

Tim Thomas is Mainstreet Newspapers’ Sports Editor. He may be reached at the sports desk at (706) 367-2348, or via email at tim@mainstreetnews.com.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 08, 2002

Cultivating the imagination
To get the most out of life, and to put the most into life, we need to have a wild imagination.
OK, for the few dull, lackluster and lifeless readers in our midst, let’s calm down a bit. How about just a vivid imagination?
And for those out there who know for an absolute fact that the imagination is of the Devil (for the Bible told them so), I have a suggestion. Turn the page.
Yes, I am aware that the Bible warns against “the vain imaginations” of the wicked (Romans 1:21), but let’s be on good behavior and positive here - not wicked.
But first, let’s be positive about the meaning of the word.
Imagination: “the power of forming pictures in the mind of things not present to the senses.”
An example: The child’s imagination filled the woods with strange animals and fairies.
What! You think that’s bad? I think it’s great.
Here’s what’s bad: As we grow older we dull, muffle, stifle - even try to kill - the imagination. Ain’t no way we can do that, so better learn to live with it.
Look, if it’s all right for children to see animals and fairies in the woods, why isn’t it all right for us to see them? And if it’s all right for a child to have imaginary playmates, why isn’t it all right for an adult to have imaginary playmates?
(No, fellows, I’m not talking about the playmates pictured on the pages of Playboy Magazine. They are a cut above the imagination. They are fantasies, and they are dangerous. I know. If you don’t believe me, just ask any red-blooded American male out there.)
Yeah, I know, the Bible says something about putting away childish things when we become men. I believe it also suggests that it might be a good idea for us to become like little children.
Go figure. I’m sure someone out there - maybe a TV evangelist - can explain this to you better than I can.
I like what Richard Foster, a Quaker and author of “Celebration of Discipline” had to say on the subject: “Of course, the imagination can be distorted by Satan, but then so can all our faculties. God created us with an imagination, and as the Lord of his creation he can and does redeem it and use it for the work of his kingdom.
“God so accommodates, so enfleshes himself into our world that he uses the images we know and understand to teach us about the unseen world of which we know so little and which we find so difficult to understand.”
Here, it seems to me, is what Foster is trying to tell us: “We can descend with the mind into the heart most easily through the imagination.”
OK, so you are wondering how in the world I got off on this subject, in this instance a.k.a. tangent.
My imagination made me do it. Will you allow me to give two examples of how the power worked in, through and for me last week? And maybe for you, too.
Who knows? Use your imagination and there’s no telling what might happen.
Every day I make myself walk four miles. Yes, I said make. I get up feeling terrible. My head hurts. My joints ache. The last thing I want to do is walk four miles. But I make myself hit the trail.
(If you are able to walk, but don’t, get up off the couch, turn off the TV, and walk. You’ll feel better for it. Guaranteed.)
After a quarter mile, I’m feeling better. After a mile, I’m feeling good. I get back to the house and I’m feeling great.
It’s not my imagination at work here. My better, good, great feeling is real.
My imagination kicked in when I started paying attention to the trail. (I just used my imagination and the street miraculously became the Appalachian Trail.) I pulled out my little notebook and wrote, “broken pavement, broken lives.”
Every 10 or 12 feet there is a crack in the asphalt. Some are jagged, like lightning strikes. Some are short, others long. A few run all the way across the pavement. Some run parallel to the centerline and have no outlet to the shoulder.
Broken pavement, broken lives. The cracks in the pavement became creations in my mind, mental images of a crazy, mixed-up life.
Not your life, friend. Mine. I imagined that every defect, fault and flaw in the asphalt was a mistake, misdeed or error charged to my account. And it bothered me.
Then I imagined the cracks leaving the pavement and entering the shoulder where the grass is green and wild flowers bloom. The flaws were covered. It was then I imagined - no, knew - that my mistakes were covered, forgiven, buried forever. I felt loved. I was loved. I am loved.
I hesitate to tell you about this second example of imagination’s power.
You’ll probably laugh at me. But I don’t care. I’m going to tell you anyway.
I go to the bathroom for many reasons. To take a shower. To take a tub bath.
Get on the scales. Wash my face. Brush my teeth. Floss my teeth. Comb my hair. Take my medicine. Wonder if that’s me in the mirror. And talk to my friends as I . . . well, I will leave to your imagination the other things I do in the bathroom.
Friends in the bathroom? Yes. Let me tell you about them.
One bathroom wall is papered with a peach twig-peach bud design. At the very bottom, just above the baseboard, is this deer head looking me straight in the eye. Twigs outline its triangular face and serve as tiny antlers. Peach buds are strategically placed to form the eyes and ears. Another bud is right where the end of his nose is supposed to be.
The other bathroom décor has five rows of painted flowers. One row is made up of flowery faces. One of them, the one that stares back at me every morning, is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a human face on a bathroom wall.
You would not believe the things I tell these images, the deer and the face on the wall. I tell them things I wouldn’t dare tell you. Things known only to God, to me and to my bathroom friends.
The amazing thing is how they talk back to me. And I’m not about to tell you what they say. Just know that we talk about personal, family and world opportunities and problems, and I come away feeling great, just like I’d walked four miles.
Imagination is a wonderful thing. Without it the cracks in the pavement would be - well, just cracks. And my deer and flowers would be . . . well, just pictures on the wall.
If you aren’t getting much out of life, or putting much into life, maybe you need to cultivate your imagination. A few dull, lackluster, lifeless folks will call you crazy, but what th’ heck. Go for it. Remember, God created you with an imagination. Use it.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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