Send this into overtime

GHSA has yet to act decisively on shameful football brawl

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Imagine buying a product, taking it home, plugging it in and having it work just as it’s designed – and being driven crazy by that fact.

Welcome to our justice system.

Sometimes the system ends up walking away from a crime – not because the system isn’t working, but because it is.

This may be one of those times.

Most of us yearned for indictments in the infamous Hancock Central-Warren County “footbrawl” between the two schools after Hancock’s 21-2 win over Warren County last Oct. 14. The brawl seriously injured Warren County coach David Daniel.

But a Hancock County grand jury Jan. 25 announced it would not indict anyone in the incident.

That appears to be an outrage at first glance. How could no one be guilty of a crime, when someone is hurt so badly by a swinging football helmet that he’s needed hours of surgery?

Well, the grand jury didn’t say there was no crime committed. It has merely concluded that the evidence to prosecute just isn’t there.

Sadly enough, that’s the case in too many crimes: either a lack of evidence – or so much of it that it’s hopelessly conflicting. The latter appears to be the case in this instance.

The good thing, of course, is that the burden of proof – probable cause at the outset of a case, and ultimately beyond a reasonable doubt – means that innocent people are more likely to be protected from wrongful prosecutions.

The other side of the coin is that, sometimes, guilty people walk away – again, so that the innocent among us can too.

It’s maddening, though. Someone ought to go to jail for what happened in this case.

Mercifully, the Georgia High School Association this week put the two schools in separate subregions, vastly reducing the likelihood they will ever play again. Good.

But the association is still looking into the incident, and should consider severe sanctions. The burden of proof in such administrative proceedings is much more amenable to holding people accountable than the criminal code is.

And what about the fact that several Warren County players had previously visited a Hancock Central game against another team just to taunt them outside the locker room – and had to be run off the premises? Were those players allowed to play in the game involving the brawl? One would hope such behavior would be cause for suspension or even dismissal from the team.

Further, are there lessons for the GHSA overall? Isn’t this a huge red flag that we’ve got a tremendous problem with a lack of sportsmanship? One would think this incident alone would be cause for a system-wide assessment and crackdown on unsportsmanlike conduct.

Absent criminal charges, using the brawl as a learning tool statewide would bring something meaningful to the sad affair, and perhaps some meaning to those who were injured.

The grand jury’s findings were dictated by the criminal code. The GHSA has no such excuse. It needs to act, and decisively.

Comments (13)

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/04/12 - 09:15 am
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I've avoided commenting on

I've avoided commenting on this one. There are certain things I don't get too excited about like mass murders in Mexico, soccer riots in the rest of the world or football brawls in the South.

avidreader
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avidreader 02/04/12 - 09:30 am
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Riverman, I have to agree

Riverman, I have to agree with you. I am rarely apathetic concerning the welfare of high school kids and their teachers and coaches; however, this ordeal smacks of stupid people and kids without proper role models -- on both sides of the field. Amen!

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 02/04/12 - 11:04 am
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I agree with the comment that

I agree with the comment that part of what led to the football riot and deplorable injuries was a lack of proper role models. But that is only a symptom of the real disease. The underlying disease is a culture, nationwide but more virulent in the South, that makes a religion out of a game. In a culture where the high point of too many lives, both young and adult, is a Friday night football game; where too many high school football players believe success on the field is the most important thing they have to look forward to; where football "heroes" make headlines and academic achievers get included in a back-page list, is a sick culture indeed. It's hard to find role models when all too many Southern adults are stricken with football-itis.

Jane18
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Jane18 02/04/12 - 12:40 pm
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I'm guessing eel has never

I'm guessing eel has never had a child play football, or any sport. For my family it was a fun time, exciting time, proud moments, comraderie with other parents, traveling to other cities, meeting fans of other teams, I could go on and on with many positive aspects of football. And you know what eel(and others)? Anything that was this positive in our lives and others, cannot----I repeat, cannot be a disease!!

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 02/04/12 - 01:01 pm
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Jane18: "positive"...like

Jane18: "positive"...like post game riots and cracked skulls? Nice!
And by the way, how many academic honors nights did you attend?
If you went to any, were they held in the school's football stadium to accommodate the huge crowds? (ha-ha) My children did play sports, but individual sports which they continue to enjoy to this day with all their brain cells intact. But my kids mostly went to science olympiads and speech competitions on the weekends, which is why today one is a physician, another an attorney, and the third a nano-tech engineer.

raul
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raul 02/04/12 - 03:02 pm
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@eel. Your kids sound like

@eel. Your kids sound like they would be a barrel of fun. How are their social interaction skills?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/04/12 - 06:48 pm
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Pat Conroy, the famous

Pat Conroy, the famous author, was a good college basketball player. When someone asked him about an author who had a popular book out, he replied, "Yeah, but can he bring the ball upcourt against Florida State?"

Taking up for sports now, there is something about physically superior young men focusing their energy on sport instead of random violence. A guy who can kick everyone's butt is better off for everyone else and himself playing football. These type competitions for young men have always taken place no matter the era or society.

So we have fights at footballl games now and then, we are still better off with kids playing football.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/04/12 - 07:00 pm
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Remember the comment by Gen.

Remember the comment by Gen. George C. Marshall during WWII:

"I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player."

KSL
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KSL 02/04/12 - 07:38 pm
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Both my boys played team

Both my boys played team sports through high school and college. First one was an invited walk-on for the Gamecocks football team. The second son was a West Point football recruit. He got his appointment but then turned around and turned it down to play baseball in college. Both of them graduated with high academic honors, from high school and college. The older one was accepted to graduate school in the MIBs program. The committee told him part of the reason he got accepted into the program, which was the number 1 Masters in International business program in the country, was that he had been on the football team and graduated with honors from the Honors College at Carolina. They said it showed excellent time management skills.

By the way, Pat Conroy may have been a good basketball player, but my husband beat him at ping pong one night at a party for him given by our next door neighbors.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/04/12 - 07:44 pm
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KSL, great stories. If you

KSL, great stories. If you look at Conroy today you would never guess he was an athlete. Heh. Hey, what does your son think about Carolina next year? Is he going to do his thing with the team again? As much as I love football, I should have talked more about him at the lunch with y'all.

raul
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raul 02/04/12 - 09:31 pm
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@Riverman, Did you read My

@Riverman, Did you read My Losing Season by Pat Conroy? Not usually into books about sports, but Conroy made it so much more.
@KSL Cool about partying with Pat. You must move in some interesting circles.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/04/12 - 09:37 pm
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Raul, yessss, I did. I have

Raul, yessss, I did. I have that book. Also, remember I grew up in Charleston and the Citadel was the big Charleston team back then for basketball.

casimir56
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casimir56 02/04/12 - 10:59 pm
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Several GHSA rules were

Several GHSA rules were violated to allow this incident to occur. First, there was definitely NOT adequate security provided for this "rivalry". Second, the locker room was locked. A key was not provided to the opposing team, nor was a person posted to open it immediately upon the end of the game. GHSA should levy the maximum fines against Hancock Central, and place them on probation. Any futher violations of this nature that allow for another similar incident should result in Hancock Central, or any other GHSA school, to lose their major sports programs until competent "adults" can follow the rules.

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