Valdosta Daily Times

November 19, 2012

COLUMN: There is still plenty to cheer for this football season

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Football season isn’t over just yet in the city of Valdosta and Lowndes County. Yes, the Lowndes Vikings and the Valdosta Wildcats might have been eliminated — both losing in the first round of the state playoffs for the first time in history — but the Valwood Valiants and the Valdosta State Blazers are still very much alive and have chances of winning a state and national championship, respectively.

While Valwood will be on the road in Milledgeville Friday night, I fully expect the Valiants to return home Dec. 1 to host the GISA Class AA state championship game. Goddard Field should be sold out to capacity and beyond for that game. After all, Lowndes and Valdosta won’t be playing and the Valiants deserve a supportive crowd as they go undefeated and win a state championship.

After all, that is more than Lowndes and Valdosta can say about this season.

Valdosta State will be at home Saturday in the second round of the Division II football playoffs. The Blazers will host Gulf South Conference champion West Alabama, which beat VSU 39-28 in September. The winner of Saturday’s game will play in the national quarterfinals the following weekend. Needless to say, there is a lot on the line for VSU football in the coming weeks.


What I have never been able to understand is how there are close to 10,000 people at Lowndes and Valdosta games on a Friday night and the following day there are 3,500 at the Valdosta State game. Last time I checked, Valdosta State brings in an average of $18,000 per student to the local community each year.

If you times that by 13,000 students that is about $234 million a year. Sorry, but I don’t think Lowndes and Valdosta have that economic effect on this community.

Since the university supports the community, especially financially, why doesn’t the community return the favor and support it and its athletic teams?

Yes, tickets for the first round game are a little less than $20 per person. But, who cares? If you were to drive up to Athens this weekend and watch Georgia-Georgia Tech you’d spend over $100 in fuel and over $250 in tickets for three people. Why not drive to Bazemore-Hyder Stadium and pay less than $60 for three tickets and about $10 in fuel and support the local university that brings in millions of dollars to the local community.

Yes, I am a huge Georgia fan and I love watching the Bulldogs. But lets be honest, the Bulldogs are going to whoop the Yellow Jackets this weeken and cruise into the SEC Championship game. The Valdosta State-West Alabama game will be a much better football game to watch, especially in person.

The local community is needed more than ever this weekend, too. Valdosta State is on fall break and nearly all students will be driving back to Atlanta to spend the break with their families. The on-campus student housing doesn’t even open back up until Sunday.

Personally, student housing should re-open Friday to help accommodate the students that would like to attend the football game Saturday. I don’t make those calls, but I will challenge the     administration to make the right decision and get it done. If not, I won’t be the only one voicing my opinion at the game.

With so many students unable to attend the game, there will be about 800 to 1,200 less people in the stands Saturday. That number needs to be made back up with the support of the local community.

Just because the Vikings and Wildcats aren’t playing anymore, that ddoesn’t mean football season is over.

Get out and support the winning teams in this town that aren’t called the Vikings and Wildcats. If the local community doesn’t show up Saturday, then it is showing its true ignorance and proves that this town and community doesn’t deserve an economic engine like Valdosta State.

High school football playoff thoughts

OK, by now everyone knows that I played my high school football at Mill Creek in Metro Atlanta. Being from the Atlanta area, I used to think that Atlanta schools were superior to South Georgia schools in football.

Then, starting last year, I just jumped on board with the South Georgia schools, even picking three Region 1-6A teams, including Lowndes and Valdosta, to make the state semifinals this year.

And then Friday happened and South Georgia football was embarrased.

I’m not sure how to feel about Lowndes and Valdosta both losing to Cobb County schools, which haven’t won a state championship since the 1960’s. Personally, I think it shows that the Atlanta area schools had a lot a talent this season and that Region 1 wasn’t the toughest region in the state this season.