Value of School-Based Athletics Worth the Problems

By the time this newsletter is fully distributed to all our member schools, corporate partners and other supporters of the Georgia High School Association, winter sports will have reached their conclusion for 2016. We concluded Team Duals Wrestling in mid-January, Swimming and Diving in early February and the Traditional Wrestling Tournament in mid-February. Literally thousands of student athletes have competed in these championship events. Thousands of spectators have filled venues around the state to watch these events and to cheer on individual athletes and the schools and teams they represent.
 
Many more fans will have journeyed to the Centreplex in Macon to watch and cheer as another 30 schools compete for the State Championships in boys and girls Basketball. Again, hundreds of young people will be involved in these games – giving their all for their school in a quest for excellence. Even more fans will observe the action via radio, video streaming and live television broadcasts. This is a time to celebrate high school athletics and their role in the educational process. These good things do not come easily. We can no longer assume high school athletics will continue just as they have been in the past. Important issues must be, and are being, addressed to insure that high school athletics will remain a stable force in the lives of millions of young people across the country. Much attention is being paid to the health and safety of student athletes, and rightfully so! Risk management is the top priority in every sport played within the GHSA. The games are the safest they have ever been.
 
Many rule changes and association policy changes focus on the safety of the athletes. Economic pressures impact every aspect of school life – including sports and other competitive activities. Schools are working diligently to maximize resources and to find creative measures to finance their athletic programs.
 
These topics are but two issues confronting school-based athletics – there are others, as we might understand. We will be more likely to work through these problems if we are convinced of the great value of high school athletics as a part of the total educational framework. All of us must commit ourselves to the true purposes of school-based athletics while looking for ways to grow and develop our programs throughout Georgia.
 
Gary Phillips, Executive Director