One debate about the potential began Sunday, some writer types dancing around on Twitter.
There was a quasi-consensus that a situation was developing that could get really, really ugly.
Warner Robins and Miller Grove -- a pair of Class AAAAA schools with combined enrollments of about 3,200 -- based on the last round of GHSA reclassification, were days away from a state quarterfinal basketball game.
The initial locale of the game fits maybe 900 people, and very few (of us) on average are Jenny Craig graduates. Thus, barely half of the home team’s student body could get in.
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So after assorted discussions, the game -- and it’s a big one -- was moved nine miles and 14 minutes away to a gym that seats about 1,000 more folks, inspiring angst and aggravation.
There are several off-shoot topics from this situation to address another time.
We can talk about the GHSA designating postseason sites in every part of the state. Or how a few SPLOSTS ago, Houston County planned to build new gyms for Northside and Warner Robins but showed some Bibb County traits and didn’t quite finish the drill. Or how some schools outgrew their surroundings a long time ago.
Or of the potential of a multi-purpose facility in the city that could host basketball, swimming, wrestling, conventions and so on. Or, well, yes, many topics indeed.
For now, we’re talking about a mammoth game for Warner Robins, in which the opponent makes it more than a normal quarterfinal. We’re talking about a growing Warner Robins basketball bandwagon, and some people on bandwagons can get nasty if they can’t watch the reason they got on the bandwagon.
Granted, no, the world can’t get in for a high school game, but at this point, as many people as possible should have a reasonable opportunity. Flip it around (you know, the way nobody ever does). Would Warner Robins fans want to drive two hours and not get in and not know they wouldn’t get in? There was potential for something ugly happening when the doors got shut 20 minutes after they opened had the game stayed at Warner Robins.
There’s no fault here.
Warner Robins’ gym, like Northside’s and a hundred others in the state, was built a good while ago, before the school grew. It fit, for a long time. But it hasn’t fit for a long time.
Miller Grove has won six straight state titles, and one doesn’t stupid or overlook one’s way to that. So officials up there chose to utilize the rule book, which has been around for awhile.
Sure, it is to Miller Grove’s advantage to change the game.
The advantage gets erased as soon as Warner Robins stops grumping or thinking about it.
The location can’t win the game for the Demons, but it can lose it for them if it stays in their head. The stands and court and the address have nothing to do with playing smart, composed basketball. If that happens and Warner Robins loses, remember that phrase: “Won six straight state titles.”
It was easy to see a move as an advantage long before it was actually on the table.
No, Veterans isn’t as cozy as Warner Robins. It’s not home, throw a few big old posters of the mascot on the walls, and it can become homey.
On the other hand, the number of Demons fans who now get to see this superb team and growing program in a huge game doubles. Gym is twice as big, number of iron-lunged screamers doubles. Friends and family left outside now get in. Some folks who don’t know what the Demons are doing may get a chance to see.
An extra thousand fans can win this game for Warner Robins.
And this game now becomes a community event. There will be Eagles and Warhawks and Bears, oh my, and maybe some Panthers and perhaps a few Hornets on hand, as well as those who support those animals.
The way it has played out becomes a little of “us vs. them,” the young suburban Atlanta school vs. the venerable non-Atlanta school.
It’s a huge basketball event for the county and its players, current and future, who will get to see a special game in a magnificent atmosphere befitting a state title game, let alone a quarterfinal.
Macon is two wins away for everybody. It’s the postseason. Somebody was going to have to beat the Demons or Wolverines away from home anyway.
Location be damned, one shining moment awaits.
Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org