Oh how time flies. Last year as the high school basketball season was winding down, the Macon Coliseum was getting ready to do what it had done in year’s past — host the state championship games in whole or in part. That will not happen this year. That honor heads to the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday and Thursday, March 8-9, for classes 6A, 5A, 3A and 1A public division, and on Friday and Saturday, March 10-11, the scene shifts to Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion for classes 7A, 4A, 2A and 1A private division. The Georgia High School Association released the schedule Thursday.
We could cry in our milk and list all the reasons why Macon is a better location than either Athens or Atlanta. The Macon Coliseum is centrally located right off Interstate 16, smack dab in the center of the state. With games starting at 2 p.m., and the last game tipping off at 8 p.m., teams that are still in the hunt for state championships may have to travel from as far away as Valdosta or Hinesville. But the real reason we have cause to cry are the several Middle Georgia teams still eligible to win state titles that we won’t get to see play here.
On the boys side, Northside warner Robins, Perry Westside, Dublin, Washington County and Wilkinson County are still alive, one game away from the championship game in their respective divisions. On the girls side, Warner Robins, Central, Peach County and Stratford Academy could bring home a state championship.
Our milk also has droplets of tears because we lost the state championships partly due to our own neglect — and a very visible snafu that became a signature embarrassing moment for the GHSA. The baskets last year were misplaced, by a foot, at both ends, of the playing floor. That played havoc with long-range shots and drives to the basket. What was more embarrassing was the response of GHSA officials who knew about the problem and decided not to correct it, saying they wanted to keep the games on schedule. That made national news. In May, the announcement by the GHSA that it was moving the finals to Georgia and Tech caught no one by surprise.
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Granted there were other issues at the Coliseum that this newspaper brought to the forefront. However, more than a few issues were caused by the GHSA itself. It charged team buses ($10) for parking and admission was $14 to watch non-regulation basketball games.
Our rant is over now. Macon-Bibb County has taken steps to improve the Coliseum. It’s under new management, a move that was already in process last year, but not yet finalized. We want the teams to have a great championship experience. It’s been a long tough season for everybody. Georgia and Georgia Tech will be great hosts, and if the GHSA ever decides it wants to come back to Macon, we’ll be better hosts, too.