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‘The state has enough to worry about’

ajc.com

Credit: W.A. Bridges Jr.

Credit: W.A. Bridges Jr.

Banks County softball coach Kelby Cronic

Each week, five high school coaches will discuss one issue that affects Georgia high school sports. | Last week: Teaching adversity

At Issue: Georgia's elected officials in the Senate and House often have directed their legislative focus toward the Georgia High School Association during the past 20 years, introducing some bills of great import, others borderline frivolous. There have been two home runs. The Ryan Boslet bill, named in honor of a young Chattahoochee football player who died from heart failure during offseason workouts in 2002, mandated more thorough pre-competition physicals for high school athletes. Another push from the statehouse led to wet-bulb heat and humidity testing, which took athletes off the field during late-summer and early fall workouts if the readings showed danger. Unfortunately, many other bills were sparked by "fandom," including an attempt three years ago to dissolve the GHSA and let the state take control after fans in one area of the state complained about former GHSA executive director Gary Phillips, who decided to retire.

So exactly what role should state lawmakers have in relation to the GHSA?

The Skinny: Banks County won its first state softball championship in October after rain postponed the games in Columbus and pushed the championships back to the schools later the next week. The championship was the first for head coach Kelby Cronic, who had been at Banks since 2013 as an assistant before taking over the head coaching job last season.

Not a bad start for Cronic.

Cronic said the GHSA does a good job handling the logistics of everything that is high school sports in Georgia, but there are always things that could be handled in a better fashion.

“I know the issue we ran into in Columbus was tough,” Cronic said, referring to the weather. “(The GHSA) knew it had 64 teams coming down there to play a state tournament and there’s a chance of rain. I think they were short a few grounds-crew guys. So I don’t think they really planned a whole lot into that. But me, for the most part, I think they do a pretty good job.”

But could a state-run organization do better? Worse? The same?

Cronic: "For the most part, I think the GHSA does a pretty good job at running everything. I've had my issues with the GHSA, as to how they kind of plan and do certain things. Sometimes they just don't really consider the fact that the coaches may have a little more insight on some things. If you look at the average age of a GHSA board member, they are in their 60s and 70s. That's not exactly a young bunch of guys out there. I'm not knocking on anyone or anything, but a lot of times there's a lot of younger coaches who have a lot of input, but sometimes I don't think they consider the input of the coaches in those sports. But I don't know who could do things better from a logistical standpoint.

“For the most part they do a pretty good job governing over things and letting us play. Do I think the state should get involved? Well, I think the state has enough to worry about as it is. When it comes to this whole virus thing going around, yeah, I think that’s kind of a state call there to say that everybody needs to kind of do their part to stay healthy. Other organizations and travel organizations finally took heed of everything and started cancelling their stuff, and (Georgia) was a little late. I think they should have done a better job of canceling earlier.

“I can’t really complain about the GHSA, As far as a whole organization, they do a pretty good job."

AT ISSUE: Legislating high school sports 

• Kelby Cronic, Banks County softball coach 
• Dean Fabrizio, Lee County football coach 
• Eric Godfree, Parkview football coach 
• Anson Hundley, Carver-Columbus basketball coach 
• Chris Slade, Pace Academy football coach
» MORE: Previous topics

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