I’ve been covering high school sports from the sidelines in Georgia for more than 25 years. Last Friday night in Fort Valley at the Jackson/Peach County football game, I achieved a first in my sports career — I was ordered by the officials on the field to leave the stadium.
It occurred late in the game when Jackson was leading 28-25 and Peach County was driving toward what would eventually prove to be the game-winning touchdown. On first and goal at the Jackson 10, the Peach County running back went up the middle for six yards. The Red Devils stopped him in his tracks in a pile up at the 4-yard-line, and I waited for a whistle signaling the end of the play. But no whistle came, and the Trojan linemen came up and started pushing the pile forward and assisting the runner. Jackson again had him stopped at the 2-yard-line and again I waited for a whistle, but none came, Peach County kept pushing, and eventually went over the goal line for the score.
After their point after attempt and before the kickoff, I approached the official nearest me and asked why neither he or any of the other officials had not blown a whistle stopping the play when the runner was no longer advancing. He just turned and looked at me and said “Don’t talk to me.” So I replied, “Fine, you can read about it in the newspaper.” And he pulled out his flag and threw it.
The officials huddled in the middle of the field for a few minutes, and I advised coach Dary Myricks that the flag was on me. After talking with the officials, coach Myricks came over and said the officials told him I had to leave the stadium. They had a Peach County school official come over and escort me and my girlfriend, who was in the stands, out. The Peach County official was very nice and allowed us to watch the remaining few minutes of the game from just outside the fence.
I’m not apologizing for defending our Red Devils against an unfair call, or in this case, an unfair no call, by the officials. I don’t believe I did anything wrong in questioning him. But I do apologize for any distraction I may have caused coach Myricks or the players, and for not being more professional in my behavior. To the officials I offer no apologies. They can read about their behavior in the newspaper.