Breaking News

Sports Columns

January 19, 2014

Loran Smith: Bulldogs compete well in academics, too

The view here is that there has never been a greater tradeoff in American history than for an aspiring young person to be given a free education for the playing of a sport.

It all began with football but has spread to all sports, men’s and women’s alike. However, the focal point of the system historically has been football — which has evolved into such a business, becoming bigger by the year, that along the way a lack of emphasis on academics has occurred among athletes.

Let’s be honest. Given the druthers of most young football players, it is a fact that in all too many cases the preferred objective is to come to your campus for three years, become trained for pro ball, and leave at the first opportunity for the NFL. (In men’s basketball, it is even worse: play super for one year, and then strike out for the NBA.)

When the body loses its suppleness and when the cash flow runs dry, what does a useless athlete (and the woods are full of them) do? Often broke with a family (in come cases, families) and no degree, they have no place to turn.

As the headlines have reminded us in the last few years, many college graduates have had difficulty finding jobs, which reminds us that in today’s times the smartest young people who are the most enterprising are the ones who will survive. It is a greater challenge for a broken-down athlete.

Universities are often blamed by critics for not doing more by their athletes, but as Wimp Sanderson, the successful sage of Alabama basketball, when asked how many of his players graduated said, “All them that wants to.”

That certainly reflects a truism. If a kid wants a degree, he or she has to make that a goal and an objective. Many kids are economically disadvantaged and view life in the short term. They want the big bucks immediately without thinking that there will ever be a day when they can’t compete.

The American Football Coaches Association annually honors schools that are distinguished for academic achievement. At a recent luncheon, the AFCA and the Memphis Touchdown Club honored Georgia, Rice, Stanford, and Tulane with its Academic Achievement Award.

Georgia in the same grouping with Rice, Stanford, and Tulane! High cotton indeed!

The award was presented for 100 percent graduation of its freshman class of 2006. Stanford and Rice have been honored previously for this award.

“We are certainly pleased about this recognition,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “You credit the students for their work and focus toward completing degree requirements, you credit the coaches in attracting athletes who want a balanced experience while on campus and you credit our academic staff for its counsel and guidance in working with the student-athletes on a daily basis.

“You can win a lot of awards, but it is difficult to top an award which recognizes the institution of something truly outstanding as graduating its athletes. That is part of our mission.”

Ted White, associate athletic director for academic services, underscored the team effort by players and staff — including Carla Williams, executive associate athletic director, and football head coach Mark Richt — noting Georgia is only the third public institution to win this award since 1989.

“If ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ as Peter Drucker once said, then our university administration, Greg McGarity, Carla Williams and Mark Richt should be commended for their tireless establishing an environment where excellence is the expectation,” White said.

Richt, who accepted the award for the UGA Athletic Association, began by paying tribute to the players for “doing the work,” and “having the commitment” to earn their degrees.

“We have excellent staffing and resources in our Rankin Smith Academic Center, which helps tremendously,” Richt said. “We meet with every player who leaves early for the NFL, encouraging them to continue on a path to graduation. Fortunately many of them do. This is a great day for Georgia.”

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at

Text Only
Sports Columns
  • Doug Hawley: Cancer will not hinder Run for John’s finish

    With the seventh annual Run for John races scheduled for Saturday in Dalton, there is a community focus this week on the family of the late John Bruner.

    April 19, 2014

  • Devin Golden: Area aims for multiple tennis titles in tourneys

    Afew local high school tennis teams have had successful regular seasons and they aim for bigger achievements this week in the region tournaments.
    Murray County’s girls are right there near the front of the Region 7-2A pack.

    April 13, 2014

  • Chris Whitfield: Miller finds the win he has wanted

    Former Dalton High School standout Chase Miller has had four strong years at the College of Coastal Georgia, transitioning with the school as it went from a junior college program his freshman year to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics four-year school.
    The one thing missing from his résumé? A tournament title.

    April 12, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Big Three still a big deal for fans

    AUGUSTA — Sinatra is gone, but we still have his music. The same is true with Nat King Cole and Elvis. It would be nice to hear them in concert again, however. With Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, we are not sure what it will be like when they are no longer the honorary starters at the Masters.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Managing dollars at the ballpark can be an exercise in good sense

    Attending an Opening Day game at a Major League Baseball stadium is one of life’s little pleasures. Everyone should get to experience it at least once.

    April 11, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Meeting old friends under the big oak a tradition, too

    The first time I was in a train station in Great Britain and saw a sign that read, “Meeting Place,” it brought me to a pause. How simple, how functional was this sign? In small towns it is not a problem to meet someone at Sheppard’s Filling Station or at the fireplug across the street from the Baptist church, but at a busy venue — like European train stations — there is nothing more sensible than meeting at the “Meeting Place.”

    April 10, 2014

  • Loran Smith: Golden Bear is still game’s top champion

    Jack Nicklaus is entitled to play the Augusta National Golf Club as a member now, which means when he takes friends out for a round of golf, he hits from the member tees. He hits it a long way still — certainly for a guy in his mid-70s — but not like in 1965, when he drove the ball on No. 15 so far over the crest of the hill that he only needed a 7-iron for his second shot.

    April 8, 2014

  • Chris Stephens: The boys of summer ready for rec baseball

    The emotions are far-reaching and played out all over baseball diamonds each summer. Fear. Anxiety. Fear. Anticipation. Fear. Excitement.
    But honestly, I have no idea how my son feels about his first baseball season. These are my emotions.

    April 5, 2014

  • Tom Lindley: Tough calls part of the job for refs

    Florida brings Scottie Wilbeken to the Final Four with championship hopes. Kentucky has Julius Randle, Wisconsin features Frank Kaminsky and Connecticut will be a tough out as long as Shabazz Napier has the ball.

    April 4, 2014

  • Heritage at NW base#1C009FA.jpg Devin Golden: Stage now set as NW, SE aim for series win

    The team isn’t the exact same, but Northwest Whitfield’s baseball squad is mirroring itself from a season ago.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo