We Must Work to Protect Values of Education-Based Athletics

The month of March brought the close of a hugely-successful winter of competition and championship play. Already in February we saw the wrestling championships conclude with the Traditional Tournament in Macon. The Swimming & Diving championships conducted at Georgia Tech were an overwhelming success as well.

These events were followed at fast-forward speed by the basketball playoffs, highlighted by the semifinal games contested at some of the best facilities and venues throughout the state. The final four days of basketball season were capped off by great games and great action at the state’s two major universities – The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. The size of the crowds at these sites indicates the tremendous enthusiasm for high school sports throughout Georgia. The GHSA State Executive Committee will meet in early April to further develop policy that will take the association forward into the coming years. Trying to be proactive in the ever-changing landscape of education-based athletics is a very difficult  task. Recent events involving school representatives from both in-state and from surrounding states have caused much uneasiness.

We can no longer assume high school athletics are going to continue just as they have been in the past. Looming internally and externally are important issues that must be addressed to insure that high school athletics in Georgia will be a stable force in the lives of the young people we serve.

Since the GHSA is outspoken in its belief that participation in athletics and competitive activities are an extension of classroom experiences, it is important this association responds to the changes we are seeing in education in Georgia.

Several rules and procedures have been put in place over the past few years that accentuate accountability of schools, their coaches and their leadership. While these measures may have imposed more work for school personnel, they protect our students and provide integrity within the sports community. Above all, high school athletics must remain as the purest form of competition throughout our state – and the nation.

School personnel, parents and fans – and the representatives of the Georgia High School Association – must work diligently to redouble efforts to value and protect our truly unique experiences and opportunities in education-based athletics. Let’s not lose sight of our traditional purposes in high school athletics while continuing to find new ways to take our games to even higher levels of competition and sportsmanship.

–Gary Phillips, Executive Director