Originally created 07/24/99

Scheduling keeps some away from competition



Even as the Georgia Games attracts elite athletes in some sports, the field in other events isn't as deep as it could be; competing championships and sometimes season scheduling just keep some athletes away.

Even during the planning stages, organizers knew the turnout for volleyball would be light.

An annual tournament in Columbia attracted many players, and organizers estimated they could have had twice the 20 teams registered Friday if they hadn't faced that competition.

They do expect more teams to register before the event starts today, but the conflicting tournament schedules definitely hurt turnout, event director Jim Ball said.

"It's an annual tournament, and it's considered a big tournament," Ball said. When we were talking about it, we knew we would have gotten a lot more teams if we didn't have to compete."

While weightlifting will boast three former Olympians and several national and world champions, more key players might have shown up if they didn't already face the Pan American Games in three weeks. Many don't want to peak for this competition, event director Scott Ragan said.

Some top wrestlers are at a competition in North Dakota. Soccer was cut from four days of competition to two because of low turnout.

The Games just fell during a bad time for soccer, which has seasons in both the fall and the spring, said Alan Johnson, who helped coordinate the event. Between the seasons and summer soccer camps, there's only about three weeks to take time off -- right now.

"When you have an event with so many sports, some are going to be affected because they're going to conflict with other, bigger events," said Amy Alter, a Georgia Games spokeswoman.

Rowing faces competition from world championships in Europe, and even rowers who have finished their events may not have made it back to the states yet.

"We're kind of running into the end-of-world competition for rowing," said Rick Toole, who helped organize the rowing event. "I'm not sure how many rowers are still out of the country, and some of them are also taking time off before the Olympic season starts. Trials for Olympic selection will probably start in November or December, because they'll try to select the team by next spring."

Alisa DeMao can be reached at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.