Get out and support high school players

dshirley@macon.comAugust 24, 2013 

Masters_Bowling

Southwest quarterback Tyree White (11) makes a pass during the 1st half of play against Dodge County.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

So does all of this wet and unusual summer weather have you in the mood for football? Thankfully, our lives are about to change for the next five months.

It is here. Finally. It is here.

A few area high school teams got started this weekend, while the rest will start this coming week. We will be counting down for Thursday, when college football gets underway, and of course, the rest kick off Saturday. Then two weeks from now, the NFL will get into the act.

We are in the South. Most of us are Southerners. Football is what we do. They like it in other areas of the country, but it’s different here. If you’re from here, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, you might think I’m being a little dramatic, but football is more than just a game around these parts. It’s a way of life.

But there’s something that has been bothering me that needs to be discussed now, before the full high school season gets started. It’s the occasional lackluster attendance at high school football games in Bibb County.

Yes, I’m going to pick on Bibb County since that’s the main area where there seems to be an issue. A few years ago, I was at Henderson Stadium shooting video for a game between two Bibb County schools. There were probably fewer than 75 people in the stands watching the game.

It was embarrassing. Sure, the two teams were not very good, and, yes, it was cold. It was later in the season, so not much was on the line, but still there was no excuse for empty seats.

Where were the parents? The classmates? The teachers? The alumni?

High school coaches will tell you it’s an issue. They want their kids to know there is support from the community and that someone cares about what they are doing, but it’s simply not always there.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem elsewhere. I grew up in Waycross in south Georgia, and back then, there were two high schools in the city -- Waycross and Ware County. Memorial Stadium was packed every Friday night as one of the two schools played at home. It was an event every week, with local businesses downtown painting their windows supporting both teams and fans tailgating all around the stadium before and after the games.

That sounds like what happens in some of the smaller towns in Middle Georgia, doesn’t it? Fort Valley, Milledgeville, Forsyth and Warner Robins are just a few of the places where following the local teams seems important.

But not Macon, at least not like it should be for the number of kids playing high school football.

Perhaps it’s because Macon is a bigger town. There are more high schools, so the support is going to be spread out a bit. The number of private schools in town might be a factor, but that shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Some have told me that when they renamed the schools in Macon, it killed the emotional tie many older folks had with their alma mater. Some even say they are afraid to go to Henderson Stadium or Thompson Stadium, which is a total joke.

Who cares what the reasons are. Let’s just fix this problem by supporting these kids who are playing high school football. It’s easy if you don’t have a kid playing anymore to just not go, but pick a school or find a friend who has a kid playing and offer your support by showing up to watch the young people of this community play football.

It’s hard to fathom why a family wouldn’t show up to watch a kid play, but it happens. So if you know a kid who doesn’t get that support, for whatever reason, do your part by being there to let them know someone cares.

It’s not like Macon is the mecca of things to do on a Friday night. High school football is the thing to do on a Friday night. The kids do everything they can on the field, but we’re the ones who have to be there to show our support.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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