Update from AJC.com: The sheriff of Hancock County has requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation look into the beating of a visiting high school football coach.
I have to wonder about high school sports when Georgia school systems feel compelled to add security to the post-game handshake to prevent mayhem. That is what Richmond County decided in the wake of the Warren-Hancock game that ended with the Warren coach in the hospital for facial surgery after being struck in the face with a helmet. The attack, allegedly by Hancock players angry after their loss, is still under investigation.
If violence is such a concern, should we reconsider competitive sports programs in schools and leave them to community centers and rec departments? There’s a lot of flaming the fires of longtime football rivalries in some Georgia communities. Hancock and Warren were longtime rivals.
Starting with tonight’s junior varsity football games and continuing with Friday’s varsity action, two public safety officers will be on the field during the traditional handshake at all contests in Richmond County. Then, each officer will follow each team to its respective locker room.
These two procedures were added to a four-pronged policy which already included the following: players must leave their helmets on during the handshake, coaches must position themselves at the front and end of the lines, cheerleaders are not allowed in the handshake line and the stadium custodians must ensure all locker rooms are open.
“When things like this happen, you look at your policy and see what you can do to prevent something like this from happening,” Richmond County athletics director George Bailey said. “You realize there’s always a possibility.”
That possibility occurred when Warren County head football coach David Daniel was struck in the head with a helmet by a Hancock Central player following his team’s 21-2 win in Sparta, Ga. Still healing at home — and watching game film — Daniel issued a statement about Friday night’s attack.
“To the Warren County family, the support and concern for me and my family has been overwhelming. It is my hope that you will continue to help our football team to focus on being competitive with our upcoming football game. Additionally, with everyone’s support, our team will continue their hard work ethic along with exhibiting good sportsmanship. Go Warren County, and let’s have a great homecoming.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog