Kirby Smart channels his inner Sean Spicer

University of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is making news headlines and, once again, it stems from a souring relationship with the media.

Smart announced on Tuesday, per the Macon Telegraph, that the media will no longer be permitted to report injuries, both “non-contact jerseys [sic] and injuries seen in front of media,” until he signs off. Reporters are generally on the practice field for seven to 15 minutes per practice and, before the change, the policy was simply no phone calls and no social media posts from the field.

The new policy begins less than a week after Smart slammed the media…in a press conference. Online Athens reports that a freshman defensive back was injured during a practice in front of reporters. Several reporters wrote about the incident and Coach Smart followed with a vocal indication of his dissatisfaction:

Continue reading “Kirby Smart channels his inner Sean Spicer”

Columbus Cottonmouths Facing Extinction

In a breaking news story, the Ledger-Enquirer reported yesterday that Columbus’ minor league hockey team is looking for new owners. Current team owners, Wanda and Shelby Amos, son of Aflac founder John Amos, purchased the Cottonmouths with Shelby’s uncle, Sal Diaz-Verson, in 2001. They bought the team from Martha and Charlie Morrow after the latter lost a battle to cancer.

In an interview with the Ledger, Wanda Amos stated that the team has suffered a financial loss into the six-figures every year of ownership. Yet, General Manager Jerome Bechard is optimistic that a new owner can be secured before the end of the season. He is so sure, in fact, that ticket renewals for next season will go on sale Monday. However, no deposit is required until June 1. Bechard’s hope is that sales will prove the team’s worth to the community at large. Continue reading “Columbus Cottonmouths Facing Extinction”

On Atlanta Sports And Family

This is what I hope to be the last word on the Falcons’ Super Bowl performance, and perhaps my first here on my sister.

Sunday wasn’t about me. For those of you that have access to my Facebook feed, you routinely see my check ins at Falcons home games. Those aren’t my tickets. They belong to my middle sister Libby. She’s the Falcon fanatic of the family. I remain attached to the Georgia Bulldogs, and I have only so much room in my life for disappointment beyond politics.

We grew up in a family of two parents and four kids. The only sporting events we attended as kids were Braves games on Ted Turner’s Straight-A student tickets. That allowed our family of six to see three games per year courtesy of Ted. We sat through many a horrible game, many with less than 10,000 people in attendance. We were once asked to move from upper level seats to somewhere behind home plate to make Atlanta Fulton County Stadium look less empty on TV. Born in the late 60’s, we’ve seen our share of bad professional sports. Disappointment is often part of the bargain of being an Atlanta sports fan. Continue reading “On Atlanta Sports And Family”

Michael Vick Writes A Letter To Atlanta

Ten years is a long time. In two weeks, “Icarus” has his tenth anniversary.

It’s with that in mind I enjoyed reading this. It’s a letter from Michael Vick to Atlanta.

I don’t care if you like sports, the Falcons, or if you love or hate Matt Ryan. You need to take the time to read it. It’s long. Make the time.

For now, that’s all I’ll have to say about that. This is the Falcons’ week, and I’m glad Mike Vick has chosen and been chosen to be a part of it. Second chances are awesome things.

Rise up.

Not Losing Another Sports Team Worth $142.5 Million to Mayor Reed

The Atlanta Hawks will have a $193-million-renovated aerie, thanks to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed who undoubtedly considered the expense of potentially losing 75% of Atlanta’s sports teams during his tenure when deciding whether to cough up the dough.

Atlanta will kick in $142.5 million of the money that will go to a massive mixed-use construction project around Philips Arena. The Hawks will kick in the rest and commit to 30 more years at Philips Arena, according to a report in The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Financing is where things get tricky.

Atlanta will fund the project with an extension of the car rental tax, generating $110 million, Reed said. The city will commit another $12.5 million toward the arena’s renovation with proceeds from the sale of Turner Field. However, even with the Hawks spending millions, that still leaves a nearly $21 million funding shortfall.

It’s uncertain how the city will pay for the remainder of the project, but it could use additional proceeds from the sale of more city-owned land, Reed said.

Earlier today, the AJC said the development “could rank among the largest commercial redevelopments conceived for downtown Atlanta in a generation.”

Furthermore:

Among the ideas under consideration is a complex similar to L.A. Live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that would include more retail and restaurants and perhaps offices and residences, said two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The Hawks would attempt to create a live-work-play destination in an area largely populated by workers and tourists. The team is contemplating a number of properties around the arena — including land within downtown’s “Gulch” — but additional property as well.

Your Atlanta Hawks remain on top of the Eastern Conference with a second-best league record of 3-0. Clearly they’re getting a chip this year.

New NCAA Non-Discrimination Policy Could Threaten Georgia Venues

The National Collegiate Athletic Association today announced that sites wanting to host NCAA events, from Men’s basketball to Women’s Gymnastics and more, must certify that their facilities do not discriminate with respect to sexual orientation or gender identity. The new policy not only affects the physical site of the event, but locations such as hotels, restaurants, etc. that will accommodate or participate in the event. From the questionnaire that prospective hosts will need to complete:

The board’s decision follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While proponents of the laws focus on how they protect religious beliefs, critics have voiced concerns that they create an environment of sanctioned discrimination.

The board’s decision reaffirms the NCAA’s commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead and fans engage.

Sample questions include, “Has your city, county/parish, and/or state passed anti-discrimination laws that are applicable to all persons?,” “Does your city, county/parish and/or state regulate choice of bathrooms or locker rooms that may affect student-athletes, coaches, administrators, or game officials during the Event?,” and “Does your city, county/parish and/or state have provisions that allow for refusal of accommodations or service to any person?”

We asked former GeorgiaPol contributor Anthony M. Kreis what would happen here in the Peach State. His opinion that an event at the Georgia Dome, which has hosted Men’s championship events would pass muster because of Atlanta’s local anti-discrimination ordinance. A proposed event that would beheld in Cobb county, which does not have a local ordinance, would not.

Today’s announcement comes day after the National Basketball Association decided not to hold its 2017 All-Star game in North Carolina because of that state’s law, known as House Bill 2, dictating bathroom policy for transgendered individuals and trumping local anti-discrimination policies.

How this might affect the ongoing debates over proposed religious liberty laws in Georgia remains to be seen. However, it appears that, at at least in the world of sports, hypothetical threats to leave because of laws affecting civil rights are now actual ones.

Do You Remember Why the World Was Watching Atlanta 20 Years Ago Tonight?

The Olympic flag waves at what would become The Ted. Photo: By Content Providers(s): CDC/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Olympic flag waves at what would become The Ted. Photo: CDC/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Twenty years ago tonight was the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic games. It was Atlanta’s opportunity to become an international city, to be in the world’s spotlight for two weeks, and, sadly, to be remembered for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. This lead to the International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch to call the games exceptional, but not the greatest games ever.

The Olympics did leave a lasting legacy for Georgia and Atlanta. Much of this legacy was remembered in a Facebook post by Chris Allen, a recent graduate of Valdosta State University. The only thing I would add that ended up being a legacy of the games was a huge start on a fiber optic network used to transmit the huge amount of data sent by the Games. It set up the network of traffic cams, some of which are still in use today, and turned the metro area into a desirable location for high tech companies just starting to get into an internet-connected world.

20 years ago tonight, the eyes of the world were on Atlanta for the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. A lot us were young but I do remember watching it on the TV, not aware of the magnitude of the event unfolding upon my eyes. Looking around the city today you’d never know it was the center of the world for those 17 days in the summer of 1996 unless you pass under the cauldron bridge on the way to the Ted or walk around Centennial Park. Continue reading “Do You Remember Why the World Was Watching Atlanta 20 Years Ago Tonight?”

Tim Lee Cries Foul On Bogus Tax Hike Story

A meme disguised as a news story made its way through Atlanta and national social media yesterday saying that the Braves were going to have to raise taxes to buy parkland because they used park bond money to give to Liberty Media and the Atlanta Braves. Lee has released the following statement:

Contrary to several unsourced and wholly fictitious news articles, Cobb County didn’t choose the Braves stadium over buying green space and it won’t need to raise taxes to do so, Cobb Chairman Tim Lee said Tuesday.

“We have cut taxes for three straight years in Cobb County because we’ve focused on policies that promote economic growth – and they’ve worked,” said Lee. “The ballpark is already generating significant revenues for the county. We’ve invested smartly and those investments are paying off. That’s why this year we’ll be able to purchase and preserve green space throughout Cobb County without any new taxes and without any cuts to critical services our residents need.

“While a handful in the media spin the false storyline that Cobb sacrificed one priority for another, the facts show the opposite is true. When discussing our priorities, this isn’t an ‘either/or’ proposition; the key word is ‘and.’ I know the Atlanta paper would never report this truth, but sound leadership decisions will allow us to have the Braves in our county and have new green space and have lower taxes for homeowners.” Continue reading “Tim Lee Cries Foul On Bogus Tax Hike Story”

Atlanta Civic Leader Played Instrumental, Largely Forgotten Role Getting Muhammad Ali Back in the Ring

By now you’ve probably read (or read of) at least a dozen paeans to Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday.

What’s become essentially a footnote in his life is how important Atlanta was to his career. And no, I’m not talking about how he lit the Olympic Cauldron–iconic though that moment may have been.

In the aftermath of the embarrassing way the boxing world ostracized Ali for opposing the foolish, utterly pointless and disastrous Vietnam War, State Senator Leroy Johnson got Ali his first boxing license for an exhibition fight at the Morehouse College gym.  Ali’s first professional bout after that was at Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium where Ali earned a TKO over Jerry Quarry in a night that featured three(!) heavyweight undercard fights.

This time in the municipal auditorium. Actor Sidney Poitier and a long list of other celebrities were there. So were [Atlanta mayor Sam] Massell, [Governor Carl] Sanders and other local and state dignitaries.

Johnson was moved by the sight. In many ways, he felt like Ali himself. He was floating like a butterfly.

“People came from all over the country and state to see the fight,” Johnson said. “The auditorium, which held 5,000 people, was packed.”

Johnson had done what no one else could do. Not in Chicago. Not in New York City or Los Angeles. He had returned Muhammad Ali to the boxing ring.

“That was a great feeling,” he said.