Thank you for buying the MDJ, for surfing mdjonline.com and for checking out Cobb Football Friday.
Thank you for caring about high school and local sports, and allowing our staff to tell the stories of your children and grandchildren.
Thank you for allowing me to make a living writing about the games I played while growing up.
Thank you to all the coaches — and not just for having to deal with the sports staff when we pepper you with phone calls or emails looking for information, a contact number or just one more question to make our story complete — but for putting up with all the headaches of having to deal with all the highs and lows that teenagers go through on a daily basis at school.
I always thought high school coaches were a special breed to depend on the performance of a 16-year-old for part of their take-home pay.
But what happens on the field is just a small part of what a coach actually does. It’s teaching kids about winning and losing, overcoming adversity and giving life lessons that will help them become model citizens, good husbands or wives and parents. In some cases, it’s being a psychologist, an advisor or just someone to talk to.
Thank you to all the parents who invest the sometimes ridiculous amounts of money into the big business that high school sports has become.
My parents got lucky. Big-time high school athletics had not even dreamed of reaching its current level when I was competing on the diamond, court or golf course in the ’80s.
At that time, boys and girls still played two or sometimes three sports a year. My parents didn’t have to deal with the specialization of playing a year-round sport — with AAU coaches sometimes filling teenagers’ heads with big and unrealistic ideas, or travel teams and private coaches taking precedent — because that had yet to become the norm.
Now, you, as parents, take it upon yourselves to make sure your child has the most up-to-date equipment and specialized training they can have to help them become the best student-athlete they can be — and maybe, just maybe, be one of the lucky 4 percent that earns an athletic scholarship to college.
But more importantly than money, you dedicate your time to make sure your child gets to practice, games or travel tournaments, and then you sit there for hours nervously watching them compete and cheering them on.
And, when the day is over, you show the kids how proud you are when they did something well, or you are there to console them if the ball bounced the wrong way.
Thank you to the athletes, who provide us with the story to write:
* To Wheeler’s Aries Merritt, who brought home the gold in the 110-meter hurdles at the London Olympics and allowed us, as people from Cobb County, the opportunity to stick out our chest and sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” a little louder and with a little more meaning.
* To all our high school state champions for lifting the profile of Cobb County athletics around the state — and, in the case of the McEachern Lady Indians basketball team — which finished 33-0 and No. 2 in the final ESPN poll — around the country.
* To all the big-time football recruits — like Walton’s Tyren Jones, Lassiter’s Eddie Printz, Marietta’s Anthony Jennings and Kell’s Brendan Langley — for allowing us to have the sneak preview of what the rest of the country will see when you take the field in the SEC beginning next season.
Finally, we appreciate those who drop us a note when we’ve done something they like or let us know when we may have gotten something wrong. It’s that feedback that lets us know if we are doing our job or could be doing it better. It also means you’ve taken the time to read the sports section from your hometown paper.
And, for that, I say thanks.
John Bednarowski is sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or www.twitter.com/jbednarowski.