On this week’s Next Take Georgia podcast, host Phil Jones was joined by Atlanta Journal-Constitution high school beat writer Stan Awtry, and there was plenty to talk about regarding Georgia high school sports. Here’s a quick look at the topics we covered.
Georgia High School Basketball
While the state of Georgia is mostly recognized for producing top-tier talent in high school football, the Peach State also has some of the top high school basketball talent in the country. Georgia is routinely included in the top states that produce top college-bound basketball talent, with several recruits also among the top picks in the NBA draft each year.
Interestingly, however, while the state’s colleges and universities benefit greatly from many of the homegrown high school football talent, the same cannot be said of the high school basketball talent. Many of the top Georgia basketball recruits take their talent out of state and the result is mediocre basketball programs at institutions including the largest two schools, the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, who together haven’t regularly made the NCAA tournament. Georgia Tech has advanced the “Big Dance” only twice in the last 12 seasons (2010, 2021), while UGA hasn’t advanced to the tourney since 2015.
Georgia High School Football
Despite the high school football season having ended almost two months ago, there remains plenty to talk about with the sport. One of the hottest topics in Georgia high school sports is the addition of instant replay in football, which everyone seems to agree is needed, especially after yet another controversial call in the state finals this past season, when a Sandy Creek running back was ruled to have scored a TD despite the TV replays clearly showing the runner having been stopped several yards short of the goal line. This was the most recent in several blown calls that have occurred in the state championships over the past decade.
The GHSA is expected to finalize plans to move forward with video replay at this year’s state finals. That move would coincide with the championship games being moved to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the technology already exists to facilitate the use of replay, with the NFL’s system in place for use at Atlanta Falcons home games. In recent years, inclement weather and declining attendance at the Georgia high school football state title games forced the GHSA to consider a return to the indoor sports facility. An agreement was reached with AMB Group, parent organization of the Falcons and Atlanta United, the city’s soccer franchise.
Also discussed in this week’s podcast was the NIL agreements that began at the collegiate level, but have predictably trickled down to the high school student athlete level. Stan says the topic of NIL will be discussed at the next meeting of GHSA’s board of directors in April. Twenty state high school athletic associations currently have approved student-athletes to use the benefits of an NIL agreement. In last week’s Next Take podcast, Dr. Robin Hines, the GHSA Executive Director, acknowledged that “NIL is here.”
Georgia High School Flag Football
Flag football continues to be the GHSA’s fastest-growing sport, with more and more Georgia high school athletic programs adding the game to their lists of varsity sports. Discussed in the podcast was the desire to see more schools south of Macon add flag football. According to Dr. Hines, 227 schools field varsity flag football programs, along with 47 junior varsity teams.
Be sure to check out our Next Take Georgia podcast with host Phil Jones and a different guest each week.