Before the high school football season kicked off, there were lots of feelings of gloom and doom about how the troubled economy might affect things. However, while big-ticket items such as corporate sponsorships and program advertisements are down across the board, there are still plenty of encouraging signs.
Here are 10 positive stories to hear about with this year's economy and high school football:
*Hillgrove athletics director Charles Amica applauds the Georgia High School Association for keeping ticket prices the same as last year. "Also, unlike pro sports, people take high school sports more personally. Parents, friends, and relatives all want the chance to see their student-athlete shine. Regardless of [playing time], this group of people will show up." Amica said game atmospheres provide a prime time for classmates to socialize.
*Jeff Herron, coach of reigning Class AAAAA champion Camden County, said ticket sales are up on the strength of a scrimmage against Charlton, the "Border War" game against First Coast (Fla.), and showdown with Hoover (Ala.) that had "what we believe to be the largest crowd ever to see a game here." Herron said Camden had a little trouble selling tickets to the Corky Kell Classic the Georgia Dome, but that the distance to Atlanta was the factor.
*Carrollton has been one of the schools least affected in the state, with its season tickets sold out again for the year, and walk-up sales holding strong. Said coach Rayvan Teague, "There were businesses who have often supported us that have closed or forced to opt out of the football program or sign sales. Luckily, other businesses stepped up to take their place."
*Roswell athletics director John Coen said gate receipts have been equal to or slightly exceeded the pace of last year. The Touchdown Club reports that concessions have been "exceptional," helped by the Norcross scrimmage and the Campbell game being switched to Roswell because of the flooding. "I think that the $7/$5 ticket price is attractive to families who are looking for reasonable entertainment," Coen said.
*North Paulding kicked off its program last year, and has won five of its first 15 games. But that hasn't affected attendance. Said coach Heath Webb, "Our home crowds are bigger, but that just may be because we are growing as a school. We're still taking just as many fans on road games and visiting crowds are bigger as well."
*Northview athletics director Tony Cianciola said while the economy has "affected everyone in one way or another," ticket and concession sales are just fine. "It's still a great Friday night activity that is fairly cheap where people can get out, enjoy the atmosphere, and not spend too much money. Plus, with their kids involved in the game, I don't think any parent thinks twice about paying to watch, regardless of their budget."
*Riverwood athletics director Jeff Holloway said the Raiders have had good crowds, with the exception of a Thursday game in the pouring rain. "I truly believe that if a person is a fan, they will find a way to come to games. We all make decisions in life about money. Some fans will do whatever it takes ... [for example] do without that soda each day to be able to pay admission."
*Winning always helps, as McEachern is 5-0 and ranked No. 6 in Class AAAAA. Said athletics director Jimmy Dorsey, "We have had better than expected attended this season ... East Paulding brought one of the best road crowds we have seen in years. Another factor that is hard to measure is the great start, as everybody loves a winner."
*Alpharetta was edged by rival Milton 30-21 a couple of weeks ago, but it was the "biggest gate in the history of our six-year-old school," according to Alpharetta athletics director Kirk Alexander. "Player fees were harder to collect, with families no doubt hit by the economy. The good news is that we have booster clubs who are able and willing to work with these families."
*Creekview coach Al Morrell said this team's first home game, playing against rival Sequoyah, "brought in the highest ticket sales" in the school's four-year history. Creekview has about the same concession sales as last year, and still is able to afford to feed the players before games.
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