Hey, I've got a brilliant idea.
Let’s take five high school basketball teams from the metro Atlanta area, another from Hall County, one from Rabun County and one from LaGrange and have them play a basketball tournament in Dalton, a place two or more hours away from their schools.
And now let’s ask the fans and community members to take off work early, pile in their cars and make the trek to an event site that looks more like a conference hall than a basketball arena.
Now let’s ask them to shell out $10 for a ticket and $7.25 for a sandwich, chips and drink just minutes after they filled up their cars with gas that’s approaching $4 a gallon.
To top it all off, we’ll make the event on a Friday, after all, there’s not too much traffic on Fridays and since the tournament is already two-plus hours away, we wouldn’t want to overwhelm the fans with any additional delays.
What am I saying? That’s a stupid idea, and apparently the Georgia High School Association has already come up with it.
For some reason, the GHSA and its closed-minded thinking continue to schedule the Class AA and AAA basketball tournament at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton and the Class AAAA and AAAAA tournament at West Georgia in Carrollton.
I’m not sure why the higher classifications play in Carrollton since the majority of the teams left in those two tournaments reside in counties either north or east of Atlanta.
The same goes for the tournament in Dalton, which East Hall, South Atlanta, Rabun County, Troup and both teams from Buford and Greater Atlanta Christian played in Friday. What made matters worse is that five of the schools involved came from Region 6-AA, but I guess there’s no suitable site within a 30-mile radius of those metro schools.
Wait, there’s an arena in Gwinnett?
Can’t use that, there’s an all-important Kid Rock concert that night, and we all know how much of a superstar that guy is. We can’t deny the millions of Kid Rock fans the opportunity to not see him live. That would be a crime.
But wait, there’s a bevy of Class AAAAA schools with gyms capable of housing all the fans too? Why can’t we have it there?
I know, because those locations might provide a sense of home-court advantage to some of the teams and we wouldn’t want that to happen.
If we have it at a larger high school in the area, fans might actually show up. Students might actually fill the stands and entertain us all with their antics. We might actually create an atmosphere suitable for playoff basketball.
But apparently that’s dumb too.
If we have the tournament in a high school, the fans won’t be tempted to check out the High School Coaches Hall of Fame, which resides in the same convention center as the Class AA and AAA event. The fans won’t be able to see all the money and energy we put in to a Hall of Fame that only coaches and players of those coaches actually care about.
And isn’t that what it’s all about?
I applaud the diehard fans willing to make the commute to see their team play regardless of the location, but the other fans, especially the student sections, don’t really matter. They only cause trouble at the games anyway by yelling at the refs and screaming for their team to win. Who needs ‘em?
Wait a minute, what am I saying? The game needs them. The fans are what makes the game of basketball so great. They scream for every dunk, block, bad call, nice drive, fancy dribble. They go nuts for alley-oops, small guys taking charges from Division I athletes and rallies from 20-points down.
When the game is on the line, their noise can turn a 90-percent free-throw shooter into Shaq.
Without all the fans, the players are forced to compete in a half-empty cavernous conference room; they’re attendance is crucial to the overall greatness of a tournament.
Too bad no one has told that to the GHSA.
Jonathan Zopf is a sports writer for The Times. Follow him at twitter.com/gtimesjzopf