Question: When should a player get flagged for excessive celebration?
Answer: When a team is threatening to upset a prim time matchup of No. 1 Florida and No. 4 LSU.
Imagine you are a wide receiver. You just hauled in a touchdown catch to put your team ahead of a rival ranked fourth in the nation with just 69 seconds to play. 94,000 fans are going nuts!
What would you do? What would your team do? Not celebrate? Not show the emotion of the moment?
It has long been argued that a flag could be thrown on any play. There is an infraction somewhere on that field, but good officials use judgment. On Saturday, an overzealous zebra took the outcome of the game away from the players on the field, and inserted himself as the most important component of the contest. That is wrong!
Unfortunately, Georgia coach Mark Richt is stuck in a quagmire of his own making. Since he encouraged his team to “celebrate” after scoring against Florida in 2007, the Dogs have been the most heavily penalized team in the country. How can a coach that encouraged his team to get flagged now discourage the behavior? If he does discourage it now, his team may think he is being a hypocrite.
Still, the Dogs need more discipline and not just at the end of the game. On LSU’s first drive of the contest, sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin intercepted a pass deep in the end zone. Had he taken a knee Georgia would have had the ball at the 20 yard line. Instead, he tried to run out of the end zone and was tackled on the 2. Football is a game of inches, and Boykin cost the Dogs 648 inches, thus altering the play calling of the ensuing drive. The Dogs were forced to punt out of their own end zone, and LSU converted the possession into a field goal.
Play smarter and follow the BASIC rules. Don’t field punts inside the 10 yard line. Don’t dance … period! If you are more than three yards deep in the end zone, down the ball. Come on guys … we are Georgia… not Miami.
Another GISA school makes the switch
Pinecrest Academy in Forsyth has announced their plans to participate in the GHSA beginning in 2010. The small private Catholic school with an enrollment of around 200 students will participate in class A athletics.
This is a growing trend among GISA schools and with a contract renewal looming next year DWS, Sherwood, Terrell Academy, SGA, Southland and all the Macon schools have a tough decision to make. Do they stick with a dwindling league, or jump to GHSA? The economics of running an athletic program demand the institutions consider all alternatives.
The decision is a difficult one made even tougher by certain positions of GHSA. Currently, cheerleaders in Catoosa County are under fire for and banned from displaying any religious signs at a football game. One “citizen” of the county complained about the words “commit to the Lord” being placed on a break through team banner. It seems the phrase offended this genius and violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.
County school board officials also say the U.S. Supreme Court has “ruled that religious activities at high school football games create the ‘inescapable conclusion’ that the school endorses the religious activity.”
If those words offended a spectator, I wonder what would happen when a boat rocker of similar make up followed his team to Old Pretoria Road and saw the cross. Or what would he do when the “voice of the Knights” Tim Dix is leading the crowd in prayer?
If these GISA schools are forced to participate in GHSA to reduce travel expenses, and accept any dollars from GHSA, will they fall under the same ban? Maybe not at home, but what about when they are on the road?
There is clearly more to consider than just travel expenses, but I fear the die is cast and DWS and Southland will be forced to follow the big three in Macon. The smaller schools will stay put for now, but their days of independence are numbered, too.
Written By Mike Flynn.