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 OPINION PAGE - AUGUST 18, 1999 - DANIELSVILLE, GA

 

Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
August 18, 1999

Time to get the red sea rockin'
Though it may now seem like summer and those lazy 95-plus degree days have no end in sight, that old familiar time of year is just a flip of the calendar away.
I'm of course referring to the fall college pigskin season - the best time of year if you ask some people (me included), which kicks into full swing next month.
So for those of us in the Peach State, loyal to the red and black, of course, that means it will soon be time to pack up the car with our various tailgating essentials and fire up the grill southern-style as we trek to Sanford Stadium to watch the 'Dawgs wage war against their SEC enemies.
The thought alone is enough to make you squirm in your seat if Georgia football is a year-round passion for you.
But even though things seem to be on the upswing with the Georgia football picture these days (the 'Dawgs own a 19-5 record over the past two years), I would like to express a concern that has been on my mind as a Georgia fan for the past 12 seasons - crowd noise (or lack of, I should say).
That's right, the volume "between the hedges" needs to be turned up quite a few notches, because in the past few years the crowd noise at times has seemed to be on life support. I just honestly don't think that anybody is as intimidated coming into Sanford Stadium as they would be going to other "battlefields" throughout the conference.
I remember once, after Florida dismantled the 'Dawgs 52-17 in Sanford Stadium in 1995, Gator coach Steve Spurrier called Georgia's homefield "a nice little place to play in - not like the other places we go to."
Well, gee thanks, Steve.
With a capacity of 86,117, Sanford Stadium is hardly a little place to play in, which makes it kind of confusing as to why you can actually hear yourself think while you're there on a Saturday afternoon.
Maybe we've taken this Southern hospitality thing a bit too far at UGA. There's nothing wrong with being rude to the opposing team, because they're surely going to do it to you when you go to their place.
I have a ticket to the Bulldogs' matchup against the Vols this October up in Knoxville and fully expect to get blasted by the noise of 100,000 obnoxious, orange-clad patrons screaming at the top of their lungs for Bulldog blood when they're not bellowing out that "Rocky Top" song that they have such an affection for.
If I ever had to go down to "The Swamp" or whatever they call that stadium down in Gainesville, Fla., I would be prepared to have to contend with 80,000 fans mindlessly doing that Gator chomp while making earthshaking noise to back their beloved team.
And there are other stadiums in the conference that have similar reputations as being places you'd better stay away from.
LSU's Tiger Stadium immediately jumps into my mind when I think of unfriendly confines to try to win a football game in. They have been known to get more than a little crazy down there on the bayou when it comes to football as LSU's home has been named "the most feared place to play in America" by numerous publications over the years due to the noise level generated by their fans. In fact, in a legendary but factual story, the Tiger faithful erupted with so much euphoria after upsetting Auburn in 1988 that it set off the seismograph machine at a nearby geology building on campus.
Well folks, I know for a fact that the geology building at UGA is a stone's throw away from Sanford Stadium and Georgia fans have never been able to duplicate such a story.
Maybe this is just all in my head, but when I'm at the stadium on Saturdays, even though I do my best to be an inhospitable fan, I feel I must hold back because I don't want to look like an idiot for "excessive yelling" for my team due to the good number of people who remain quiet. I just think that this probably wouldn't be a problem at Auburn or South Carolina or any of the other schools I've named.
I would just like to see the day when Georgia fans join together in a collective voice and get the red-clad sea at Sanford Stadium rocking and rolling and making the place just a totally unpleasant place to play a football game, if you're not wearing those red helmets and silver britches.
So when you're at a game this season and if you side with the red and black, have fun, let your voice be heard and make some Sanford Stadium noise.
The way I see it, you've always got the other six days of the week to be quiet.
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.

Column
Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
August 18, 1999

Frankly Speaking
The source of freedom is information
We Americans often brag about our freedom, and it is true that we are among the most free people on earth. However, too many of us take that freedom for granted. We do not remember the great effort that was required to win that freedom. Nor do we realize just how easily freedom can be lost. In fact, many Americans are not as free as they could be.
In order to be truly free, a person must be able to be self-sufficient, not dependent on anyone for their needs. Self sufficiency requires a person to have job skills to earn their own money, social skills to function in our society without conflict and self-knowledge to understand who and what he or she is.
With these skills, anyone of you can map out the direction you wish your life to go. You can make your own decisions, select the place you will live, who your neighbors will be, what religion you wish to believe - or not believe at all.
I have said many times that every human is unique. No two are ever the same. No two have the same needs, the same desires or the same ability. Any program that attempts to force people into categories or groups in order to address their problems denies human individuality and reduces freedom.
When a school system establishes a single course of study and requires that all the students conform to the same program, they are denying basic freedom. When a small religious group decides that they alone have found the truth and attempts to impose their doctrine on the rest of society, they are a serious threat to our liberty. When people make no effort to earn their own income, and rather live on a government dole or depend on "affirmative action" to get them jobs for which they are not qualified, they give up their freedom to the government bureaucrats who provide their livelihood.
The source of freedom is information. Those of us who know how to find a job, or create our own job, have financial freedom. Those of us who learn the inside workings of our political system, and how to use that system, have political freedom. Those of us who study the teachings of numerous religious groups and find those beliefs that match our needs have religious freedom.
Today, there is a greater volume of information available than ever before. We have well-stocked libraries, and are continuously building more and better libraries. We have thousands of magazines, newspapers and other sources that give us a flood of news and information. Rather than a few television channels that are available in most countries, we have hundreds. Home computers have become so advanced and inexpensive that most American homes can afford them, and the tons of information that can be obtained via floppy disk, CD-Roms and the World Wide Web.
The only deterrent to true freedom in this country is lack of education. Before anyone can make use of all the information now available, they must be literate. They must be able to read the books, newspapers and magazines. They have to have a vocabulary large enough to understand and learn from the programs on science, news, social problems, religion and other topics on television. They have to be "computer literate" in order to tap the vast storehouse of information stored in the on-line data bases.
It is easy to get the necessary education. We have public schools available to everyone. We have specialized public and private schools to cover any subject you may wish to study.
There are trade schools that teach you job skills, and adult education to improve personal skills.
We can all be free. We can all control our own destiny. We have everything we need. All those who are not experiencing complete freedom need is some motivation and guidance.
"Give a man a fish and he will eat another day. Teach him to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime."
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


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