GISA moving championship to Mercer is a terrific idea

dshirley@macon.comJune 14, 2012 

It was an idea that made too much sense for it not to happen.

It was a perfect fit.

And it all came together in the past week.

Last week, Telegraph high school editor Jonathan Heeter reported that the GISA would move its basketball Final Four from Georgia College to Mercer. That was a big change, indeed, since Georgia College had hosted those games for 20 years and did a terrific job doing it.

An even bigger change for the GISA came with the association moving its three football championship games to a neutral site -- Mercer’s football stadium, which is currently under construction and will be ready to host the games in 2013. That idea apparently met with resistance from some coaches who wanted to keep the championship games at on-campus sites.

That’s understandable because coaches never want to give up an edge in a big game. But for the GISA to grow its profile, this is the right move to make. Last year’s football title games were played in Camilla, Monticello and Macon. Nothing against the host schools, but having all three games at one stadium in one day puts a spotlight on them and will offer a terrific atmosphere for the players and fans involved.

That could have been true wherever the GISA would have moved these games to, but there’s not a better fit than Mercer and Macon.

Pretty much everyone involved in Tuesday’s official announcement mentioned location as a factor. Macon is easy to get to from just about any point in our state, and Mercer’s campus sits right off the interstate. Hawkins Arena for basketball and the new football stadium are right there, as well, with a hotel within walking distance for teams and fans who will need it.

Mercer athletics director Jim Cole said he believes his school has the nicest basketball arena in the state, and he’s right. There’s no doubt the new football stadium will be outstanding, as well, and both arenas will offer the perfect size and atmosphere for the GISA’s games.

Cole was looking for more opportunities to showcase his facilities, and the GISA’s announcement will help with that. Twenty-four basketball teams -- 12 boys and 12 girls -- and six football teams will be involved. That adds up to a lot of athletes, fans and coaches going through those facilities and being on Mercer’s campus. Cole can’t say it, really, but that’s a good thing for Mercer. It’s free recruiting, if you will, and any school would jump on that kind of opportunity.

Mercer did, and that’s a good thing for the school, the GISA, Macon and everyone involved.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or

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