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June 29, 2014

Devin Golden: ‘Dead Week’ gives athletes summer rest

This column, which is published each Monday in The Daily Citizen, used to be called “What’s Going On.” The premise is to let all sports fans — high school, college and community — know everything happening during the upcoming week.

This week, however, is different — in that there’s very little happening.

Welcome to “Dead Week.” It’s the alignment of seven planets, nine stars, three suns and 15 moons.

Just kidding. It’s just the one week each year — specifically, the Fourth of July week — the Georgia High School Association (what we often refer to as the “GHSA”) and its member schools close shop for any and all competitions, practices or voluntary workouts.

The GHSA’s Constitution and By-Laws states, “During the summer ... the only restrictions on practices and competition are that all activities must be strictly voluntary, and the ‘Dead Week’ must be observed as follows: Schools are prohibited from participating in voluntary workouts, camps and/or clinics, weight training or competitions during the week (Sunday through Saturday) in which the Fourth of July falls each year.”

Summer should be, at least somewhat, about relaxing and winding down, right? In the non-stop hustle known as sports, that doesn’t happen too often.

“Most coaches would probably tell you it’s a bad thing,” Northwest Whitfield football coach Josh Robinson said, “but I happen to think it’s a good thing. Sports turns into a year-round, all-the-time thing. We have a lot of kids who play multiple sports. ... Kids need a break, they really do.”

Then again, some coaches don’t like it. Cross country, football, softball and volleyball are the four fall sports in the GHSA. Aug. 1 is the first official practice date for those sports, aside from football which starts July 25 with conditioning.

“I don’t like it because of that side — softball,” said Dalton baseball coach Shane Ramsey, a former softball coach at Northwest. “It interferes with your workouts leading to your season in August. I understand why they do it but don’t like the timing. With football and softball, especially softball, I think the timing is bad.”

The break doesn’t last too long, though. Once the calendar hits July 7, it’s back on. From there, it’s only seven more boring Fridays before the high school football season begins.

My advice? Use this week the way it’s intended, because soon enough, it’ll be non-stop for another 10 months.

• The Dalton Dolphins don’t care about this “Dead Week” nonsense — because the Dalton Dolphins have nothing to do with the GHSA.

The Dolphins continue their 2014 season today with a home swim meet against top rival Signal Mountain. Some of Tennessee’s best youth swimmers, with hopes of ruining the Dolphins’ perfect record in the Chattanooga Area Swim League, will make the trip to the Dalton Recreation Center for a 5:30 p.m. start.

The Dolphins were winners in their first five meets — and can make it a season sweep of their rivals.

• You know who else doesn’t care about the GHSA’s “Dead Week?”

America.

Because the United States men’s national soccer team already defeated death — an entire group, in fact — and will continue playing into “Dead Week” when many predicted the Americans already would be back home by now.

The United States plays Belgium at 5 p.m. Tuesday. A cursory Google search of “Belgium” — and quick navigation through the country’s Wikipedia page — reveals the following factoids about the country:

• It is officially known as the “Kingdom of Belgium,” just as my office cubicle is called the “Kingdom of Golden.”

• There were, at one point, enough citizens to have a “Belgian Revolution.” I’m stunned.

• For all the jokes made about France’s inability to defend itself during World Wars, Belgium also was invaded both times by Germany.

• Like the United States, Belgium’s soccer team never has won a World Cup.

• Belgium is known for “Belgian Waffles,” even though everyone knows pancakes are far superior to waffles.

So let’s add all those up. Self-proclaimed “kingdom.” A surprise revolution. Failure to defend itself in world-wide conflict. Never has won a World Cup. Prefers waffles over pancakes.

I have a good feeling.

Welcome to your Dead Week, Belgium.

Devin Golden is a sports writer with The Daily Citizen. You can follow him on Twitter at @GoldenDev or email him at devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

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