Kids skip school, join praise of Atlanta’s champs

There is one possible truthful escape from censure for the students who, with their scofflaw parents, played hooky to attend the Atlanta United victory parade Monday:


State regulations limit excused school absences to serious events such as illness or a death in the family. Those claiming that excuse might have to produce some documentary evidence. Students whose military parents are deploying can get a pass.

Also, the state proclaims, students missing school for a religious observance may be excused.

The crowds that lined downtown streets for the team's victory lap Monday were certainly as fervent as any tent revivalist's. There was singing, clapping of hands, outbursts of joy and proclamations the city has changed its losing ways.

Georgians' faithfulness to baseball, basketball or particularly, football, which is often compared to religion in the South, have not produced the salvific experience of a national championship in nearly a generation. It took the second coming of futbol — soccer — to deliver that, and appreciative children lined Baker and Marietta streets and Andrew Young International Boulevard to applaud, cheer and experience the moment.

Paula Taylor, mom to soccer-playing siblings 16-year-old Madison and 14-year-old Sarah, said the game is a big deal in their Paulding County house. And this could be a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity she didn’t want them to miss.

As the convertible carrying team owner Arthur Blank and his wife Angela passed in front of the girls, both yelled, “Thanks for getting us out of school!”

Blank shouted back he appreciated their thanks.

As the open, double-decked bus carrying the team rolled slowly by, Madison threw her newly minted MLS-champs hat to players on top. It was tossed back with inked signatures: coach Tata Martino and players Mikey Ambrose and Darlington Nagbe, some of her favorites.

“It was crazy,” Madison said. “The players love the fans.”

On another section of the route, Pedro Rodriguez said it was special to share his love for the game with his three sons, ages 5 to 12. They attended the game Saturday. A native of Mexico, he moved to Atlanta in 1996, which means he missed the city’s last championship win by the Braves, in the ‘95 World Series.

Taylor, the Paulding mother, was there and had regrets because she did. To a point. Her girls are A students, she said. They haven’t missed a day so far. Any excuse she wrote, she said with levity, would probably not deliver her girls from a black mark on their permanent record. Neither would a letter from Arthur Blank. But it’s worth it.