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August Sports Potpourri, with a dab of flotsam

Revised on: 10.4.2018 at 01:33 p.m.

Posted on: 08.30.2018 at 09:55 a.m.

It seems like almost daily I come across something that isn’t worth an entire article, but is worthy of a mention. Maybe it is in an email or text I have received in reference to something I have written. Sometimes it is something that I have observed. Occasionally it might be a random thought or question. If you have read some of my previous “stuff”, random is a word associated with me.

The plan was to keep all of this on the same page, with the most current at the top. The decision was made to post a headline on a month by month basis. I hope you will share your thoughts with me.

Posted 8.30.18

Forgive me for not posting more often recently. Sometimes “life” gets in the way of “work”.

  • I don’t know the last time I have read anything as misleading as the NFHS claim that “football is the most popular high school sport”. The claim was based on a larger number of participants than any other sport. Using that rationale, football is the most popular sport at West Columbus since it has the largest number of team members. Football will always have a “numbers” advantage over other team sports, with the possible exception of Track and Field.  It isn’t unusual to see schools (across the country) dress 40-50 players for a football game. That would make a crowded bench in basketball or in the baseball or softball dugout wouldn’t it? This is just an example of an organization trying to fight off the notion that football is on the decline nationally.
  • It has been suggested (and a good one, I believe) that 8-man football could be an option for high schools dropping football for a lack of participants. The problems associated would be varied. For some communities, dropping to 8-man would be  tough pill to swallow. But isn’t some football better than none at all? Scheduling a full slate of games would be a nightmare. Suppose one  school in Columbus County decided to move to the 8-man game. How far would it need to travel to play 9, 10 or 11 games? I don’t foresee any schools in Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Robeson (maybe one), Cumberland, Duplin or Pender (again maybe one) playing 8-man. Where would a school go to get its schedule filled? Maybe in the more densely populated metropolitan areas this could work. Travel is already a concern with everyone playing the same game.

Posted 8.23.18

The situation the Trask High School football team found itself in last week is “unfortunate”. Unfortunate can be construed as anything between tragic and disappointing. Two players the coach was relying on and who attended workouts up to the week of the first contest transferred to SW Onslow and Laney. The player now enrolled at SW Onslow has been deemed eligible. NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker has received confirmation that Southwest did its “due diligence in assessing the legitimacy of the student-athlete’s residency clams.” The player expecting to attend Laney is going through a hearing by a special NCHSAA transfer committee and is ineligible until the committee hears his case.

  • Trask head football coach Jonathan Taylor feels the players were “recruited”. I don’t disagree, but the question is who enticed them to leave, if enticement was offered? I would venture that 99% of the cases where students transfer for athletic purposes are NOT INITIATED by school personnel. Enticement sometimes is as simple as a supporter constantly telling a player and/or parent(s) the opportunity for recruitment is better at school X than current school Y.
  • While I am in no way insinuating either SW Onslow or Laney is at fault, a problem with the system shows up. Notice above that SW Onslow did ITS due diligence in investigating the players residency. Does the NCHSAA actually believe that Trask will graciously accept the findings of the school they feel has “poached’ its player?
  • It is time for the NCHSAA to form its own investigative division. The results may be exactly the same, but at least the findings would be coming from a third party with no direct involvement. I have a feeling that division would get more work than it can handle, but at least the “victim” wouldn’t feel as if the “fox was guarding the hen  house.”

Posted 8.22.18

  • If you follow Major League baseball, enjoy the next 10 days. Beginning September 1, the game has a major change. That is date teams may “call up” additional players. Until September 1, teams are limited to 25 active players. On September 1, that number expands to 40. Last year the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros had 33 players on hand for most of September. It certainly changes the way the game is managed. Additional pitchers, pinch hitters and pinch runners give teams much more flexibility than in the previous five months.  It isn’t the same game! Teams who are no longer in the running for post season play can bring up unknowns to pitch in games against contenders. Unfamiliarity with a pitcher can be troublesome for a hitter giving the lesser team an advantage it did not have earlier in the season. Strategies employed for 130+ games are no longer needed. I do not know any other sport that makes such a fundamental change to its game at what is arguably the most crucial time the season.
  • Two early Columbus County “feel good ” stories are East Columbus football opening with a win and  West Columbus Girls Tennis winning 4 of its first 5 matches

Posted 8.20.18

If memory serves this former school teacher correctly, the rationale behind North Carolina traditional public schools starting no earlier than August 25 was student workers were needed during the tourist season. This year that means school starts August 27. Since the last possible day of school is designated as June 10, the calendar for students is somewhat condensed, especially when trying to maintain the traditional length of holidays. Several opinions follow.

  • I would have students first day August 22 this year. A three day week to get back in the swing and make whatever schedule and class size adjustment s necessary. Then you have a full week before a three-day weekend (Labor Day) to recover.
  • Apparently South Carolina has a negligble tourist industry or doesn’t need high school students to work. Our neighbor to the south begins classes tomorrow (August 21). Both reasons stated above are dripping with sarcasm.
  • 10 teacher workdays (for some systems, a few less in others) prior to the beginning of school is ridiculous. I don’t blame the school systems, workdays are required by law to be in the calendar. They would be more effective spread throughout the calendar for both work and mental health (teachers and students). Getting the required days in with the August 27 start is challenging. It would also make the decision to postpone or cancel a school day easier with more workdays to change to student days spread throughout the calendar.
  • If systems were allowed to start earlier, it would be easier for first semester to end and exams take place prior to  the winter break (AKA Christmas holidays). Then you come back and start the second semester fresh.
  • I am fairly positive I am in a minority with this opinion. Before you say I have no idea, I did spend 31 years in the classroom. The winter and spring (AKA Easter) breaks are too long. January 2, 2019 is on Wednesday, the perfect three-day week start to second semester. This would cut the number of days students are out from 11 to 8. Instead, create more three-day weekends. Spring break could be Friday, Monday and Tuesday. Then back to school for a three-day week.
  • Don’t worry, I’ll never be put in charge to implement any of these suggestions.

Posted 8.17.18

  • Food for thought. As time goes on, aren’t the Middle Ages getting closer to the beginning?
  • I must admit having my best sleep last night in 14 years on the Thursday before the high school football season opens. Amazing how much less stress there is when you don’t have to be concerned with the internet working at North Brunswick and when the annual thunderstorm will arrive.
  • OK, here are my picks (no scores) for Friday night. Whiteville over North Brunswick, East Columbus over Fayetteville Christian, Green Sea Floyds over West Columbus. East Columbus is looking for its first season-opening win since 8/23/13 when it defeated West Columbus 28-15. Interestingly, West Columbus’ last win in its first game was the following year when the Vikings topped the Gators 32-6.

Posted 8.16.18

  • One of the most important aspects of officiating is consistency. It could be the strike zone in baseball and softball, holding in football or contact in the paint in basketball. In soccer I believe the most important area to have consistency is the amount of physicality allowed. If you have never attended a high school soccer match there is a lot of contact. Of course my beef isn’t with an on-the-field issue. It is a very simple one. My research shows that a substitute can not enter the field until the player he is substituted for has left the pitch. This is according to USSF “laws”. At the high school level, some officials vigorously enforce this rule, while others allow subs to enter as the player removed is still on the field. Not surprisingly, the players are uncertain since the enforcement may be lax in one match and strict in the next. It makes no difference in the overall scheme of the contest. It is just one of those observations gleaned from walking the sideline.

Posted 8.15.18

  • What does high school football, volleyball, and soccer have in common that tennis does not? All of the first three contests have officials, tennis does not. Players call the shots in or out and are responsible for keeping score. There is no unbiased third party to mediate disputes. With no official, who gets the blame when a dispute arises and your team ends up on the “wrong” end? I am hoping for a tennis season with no acrimony, but even though LOVE is a tennis term, I don’t feel it in the air.
  • And on the subject of Girls Tennis, in general they do get somewhat of a raw deal in the Three Rivers Conference. With 10 teams, league play started Monday because the dual team playoffs begin October 17. While a few players get some type of instruction through the year, most coaches are still figuring out seeding as conference play opens.
  • In the category of “beating a dead horse”, after checking with the NCHSAA on the requirement of reporting tennis scores by the day following a match, I learned there is no penalty for failing to do so. The reporting is necessary due to a new rule stating a player may not play up or down more than one seed from a preceding match. It reminds me of the baseball rule that only allows a team one offensive timeout per inning. There is no penalty for a second timeout. The umpire is supposed to keep it from occurring. It will be interesting to see if the lack of reporting causes a problem in tennis.
  • I’ll have my predictions for this Friday night’s high school football games on this page Friday morning.

Posted 8.13.18

  • Willie Gore’s retirement is regrettable, but understandable. Columbus County’s proximity to South Carolina and the apparent willingness to pay top of the scale for teachers with tons of North Carolina experience is too financially beneficial to not consider. While I don’t begrudge beginning teachers receiving a better starting salary, those who have given their lives to education in North Carolina should be rewarded as well.

Posted 8.8.18

  • It seems the BB&T Football Jamboree Press Luncheon has become more of a formality than a celebration of the beginning of the football season. I don’t mean for that opinion to be construed as harsh criticism, just as an observation. I am sure it is difficult to keep it “fresh” after 31 years. I don’t fault anyone for no longer having an outside speaker come in. I’d rather see the monies the event raise benefit the schools. However, there is very little “meat” to what any of the coaches say.  This would have been a great group to garner opinions on the state of high school football in 2018, how the concussion issues are changing the game and is there a solution to the reduced number of players involved. I TOTALLY understand the majority of the coaches preferring to NOT mention any specifics about the team or individuals. Fortunately the food and fellowship are good and worth taking the four hours or so out of your day (if outside New Hanover County) to attend.
  • I expect to see some of the closest competition between county teams in Volleyball, Boys Soccer and Girls Tennis that we have seen in some time. Several of the sports named above have lost numerous key players to graduation.

Posted 8.5.18

  • Seth Frankoff of the Doosan Bears in the Korean Baseball Organization was ejected from Saturday’s game after just two pitches! Frankoff’s second pitch of the game hit the opposing batter in the helmet. In the KBO this results in automatic ejection. According to reports, there had not been a previous issue and no malice was intended, but the Korean league rule calls for an ejection. See the video https://twitter.com/MyKBO/status/1025785411476570112 Frankoff leads the KBO with 15 victories.
  • Interesting fact (to me anyway), WHS baseball coach Brett Harwood (8/3) and former assistant Bunky Williams (8/4) are on consecutive dates. Coach Bunk served Whiteville baseball well even though he was not a WCS employee nor did he have a child that was playing. Whiteville has been fortunate to have individuals willing to work in the baseball program due to their love of the game, not to gain recognition. Back in the day Guy Best was a similar individual. It certainly was nice to have a left-hander for BP when called on. He kept a “mean” scorebook as well. I wonder if his and Coach Hedgepeth’s birthdates are consecutive?

Posted 8.3.18

  • It is somewhat strange to have a period during the year with no sports scores to report. I guess we can count our blessings from a sports schedule standpoint that we are not having to postpone athletic contests due to all the rain. I’m sure it has been a challenge for football, boys soccer and girls tennis teams. Bean Ransom is the only coach I know to ever have a volleyball match rained out back when he was at West Columbus. No doubt Will Dorn has the Whiteville X-Country team braving the elements.
  • Speaking of postponing, when an event will be rescheduled at a later date/time I refer to it as postponed. If the contest is NOT going to played, it is cancelled. For the sake of clarity on my part, please try to differentiate between the two when corresponding about contests affected by the weather.

Posted 8.2.18

  • South Columbus came up just short in the Dixie Softball Ponytails World Series. If my calculations are correct, half the squad will be back again next season with lots of World Series experience under their belts. In a July post, I gave the population figures for the areas the South Columbus and Alexandria teams draw from. It may be of little consolation to South’s players, coaches and fans, but it was a true battle of David and Goliath. Alexandria outscored its opponents 67-10. South Columbus accounted for 8 of those 10 runs and was the only team to go the full six innings of a game. Congratulations to all the youngsters and adults involved for a job well done.

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