Don't give up on sportsmanship

Use acrimonious football rivalry as opportunity to create a model of hope

If you played football this timidly, you’d get crushed.

Either play the game or don’t. If you play it, play it right.

The Warren County and Hancock Central football teams, who famously ended their game last fall with an awful brawl – one that seriously injured Warren County coach David Daniel – are scheduled to meet again Sept. 28 in Warrenton. But they’re talking about barring fans, for security’s sake.

What in the world?

What a statement that would make – that we’ve entered some science fiction movie nightmare in which violence is so ubiquitous that it’s too dangerous for fans to attend a sporting event!

We urge the schools not to give up on sportsmanship so easily.

In fact, the schools – the entire Georgia High School Association, even – could turn the rematch into a spotlight on sportsmanship.

Rather than bar fans, urge them to come – and put on a show that drips with sportsmanship. Pre-game, post-game, halftime – it’s an unprecedented opportunity, in the most unlikely of places, to make a resounding statement about civility and sportsmanship.

Warren County school Superintendent Carole Jean Carey, who has suggested the no-fan rule (outside of parents and school officials), is understandably wary. It was her coach that suffered devastating injuries after being hit with a helmet. (Reports conflict on who hit whom and when, and no charges were filed.) Meanwhile, Hancock County school Superintendent Gwendolyn Jefferson Reeves reports being “elated” at the chance to put the brawl behind the two teams.

We call on them to meet in the middle – to be conscious of Carey’s wariness, but to adopt Jefferson Reeves’ forward-looking view.

Between the two of them, we’re certain the game could be used as a turnaround model of hope and sportsmanship – one that the entire state and region could learn from and be inspired by.

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