January 16, 2014

Norman Arey: Here's where I'm coming from

— Because I’m going to be filling this space for you twice a week, I’m impelled to let you know about my shortcomings, thus saving you email and letters.

When The Daily Citizen’s publisher, William Bronson — the big, big boss and caretaker of all that is printed news in Whitfield County — hired me as a columnist, he was careful not to give me any instruction as to what I could and couldn’t address. I’m comfortable to weigh in on most sports-related subjects, but not local sports.

I’m not qualified. I moved to northwest Georgia 12 years ago from a foreign land (Atlanta), and I simply don’t have the historical perspective to do local. Besides, The Daily Citizen’s staff does a bang-up job in local sports. What could I add?

I do have some knowledge in other areas. I know about college sports — football, basketball and more football. During the course of the year, I’ll cover what’s going on in the college scene and certainly have notes, quotes and anecdotes from Major League Baseball, the NFL, perhaps the NBA, golf and tennis.

Please know up front that I don’t consider golf much of a sport — nor NASCAR, for that matter. I don’t much like golfers. They exaggerate and lie. I guess that’s why John Daly is my favorite. At least the NASCAR folks are homey and down-to-earth, or they were before the advent of big money and national TV. Now I’m not so sure.

I dislike professional soccer, figure skating and most pro tennis players. (A special note on cycling. I only hate pro cyclists. Somewhere along the way they pedaled their brains out. How else to explain why they dope, even when they know they’re going to be tested? Lance, pedal off a cliff.)

The Braves are fine and I follow the Falcons now that convicted dog-murderer Mike Vick is gone. The Hawks? All that comes to mind is the ubiquitous organ playing while the team is not playing.

Now that I’ve been honest with you about my unlimited and biased expertise, and you realize that I’m not real serious about all this and maybe a bit sacrilegious about sports, let me show off by discussing college sports. I’m from North Carolina and love basketball and the Atlantic Coast Conference. I admit that the ACC is a notch below the SEC in football, but then so is everyone else.

As for the University of Georgia — and I do realize this is Bulldogs Country — I want you to know that I’m not as crazy about the Bulldogs as you are. Just to get your juices flowing, Georgia does not have an elite football program. They excel in making money (they’re always in the top five behind consistently No. 1 Texas in showing a profit), but Georgia isn’t elite — nor have they been for at least 30 years and then only fleetingly.

Steve Spurrier once asked, “What happens to all those five-star recruits after they go to Athens?”

Good question. Georgia consistently racks up a top-10 recruiting class, but it seldom translates on the field. Their radio guys aren’t very good either, but that’s another story.

Georgia Tech is hard to love, and the Yellow Jackets’ Paul Johnson isn’t cut from the same cloth as Georgia’s Mark Richt. While Richt is often described as caring, sweet and a fine man, Johnson had the rep for, kindly put, abrasiveness. All the Techsters know is that since he showed up, the Jackets have won just enough to stay afloat in lesser ponds.

I want to admit up front that I’m prejudiced toward certain teams and individuals. The only difference between me and other writers is I admit it.

I don’t like Notre Dame football, Georgetown basketball, BYU, Baylor, Southern Cal, Nebraska, Ohio State, and I’m sick of hearing about Lane Kiffin. I don’t like orange, George O’Leary, The Big Ten and the Buffalo Bills. I pull for the Tar Heels in all sports and usually root for Tech when it plays Georgia. Other than that, I think you’ll find me pretty fair.

And finally, I’ll do my best to stay away from certain topics such as religion, gun control, birth control, the new pope, politics, gay marriage and the injustices done to Native Americans.

Well, I might mention a political item now and then, but only occasionally. I can’t resist poking fun at Sarah Palin.

Norman Arey is an award-winning journalist whose column appears in The Daily Citizen on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can write to him at normanarey@att.net.