LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Concerns about football league

March 26, 2017

Coach John Reid and the Rome City School Systems decision to begin participation and play in the Northwest Georgia Youth Football League will have many negative impacts to the Rome and Floyd County community. As members of the Unified Football Committee and the Boys & Girls Club board of directors, we feel that the Floyd County community needs to know the whole story and what the collateral damage will be to youth football as we have known it for over 50 years.

Coach Reid believes that taking what amounts to about 40 percent of the players from the Unified Football League, which are the city school athletes, and putting them on travel all star teams will benefit everyone. These participants will be placed on teams starting at age seven that will have to travel to some games that are 70 miles in distance from Rome. He claims that more children will get to play now than have been in the past. Really? What happened to the city mite teams when Rome began play in the middle school league they are in now. Because they were forced to add a sixth grade team, there were no longer enough players for the city schools to have any mite teams. Previously, there was an average of around 90 city school players participating in the mite program. According to Coach Reid, there were 41 players on this year’s sixth grade team, so ... what happened to the other 50? How does he expect parents, other family members and fans to be able to travel to other cities for half of their games? Also, who is paying for all this?

Rumors of this move to this new football league by Coach Reid has been circulating for months. The Unified Football Committee met with the chairperson of the City School Board, Faith Collins, many weeks ago to express their concerns. She indicated that she was aware that something was in the process, but she had no idea of exactly what it was or of the impact that it would have on the local community and the Boys & Girls Club budget. We expected her to discuss this with her board and present to them our concerns. To our knowledge, it was never brought up at any board meetings and just briefly mentioned at a caucus. Other board members that have been spoken with also have had limited knowledge of what was happening and had been told that it was not Coach Reid who was pushing for this change, but other youth coaches. For the record, this has been all Coach Reid’s plan from the beginning. He has organized all the meetings, facilitated all the meetings and most — if not all — meetings have been at Rome High School.

Every head high school football coach in Floyd County has expressed their concerns about how this new league will impact the quality of play of all area youth football players. This concern became so important that a meeting was called by the City and County mangers, Sammy Rich and Jamie McCord. This meeting was held in the conference room at City Hall several weeks ago. Also in attendance were members of the Unified Football Committee, which includes Boys & Girls Club directors, recreation department management, Coach Reid and School Superintendant Lou Byars. Coach Reid informed the group from the beginning that he was hired to fix a bad football team. He then indicated that he didn’t care about Coosa, Pepperell or the other high school teams in Floyd county. His concern was only Rome High, regardless of what his actions had on anyone else. This kind of response and attitude is not acceptable from anyone regarding the youth and other school systems in this county. The Unified Football program is about everyone in Rome and Floyd county. All citizens should be very concerned that a coach can move into our community, win a state championship in his second season and think he can completely ruin a successful youth football program that has been in operation for over 50 years. We wonder if he will have moved on to a bigger and better program in the next couple of years like he has done several times previously, leaving our community youth football in total turmoil.

Obviously the city school board members are in agreement with Coach Reid, and feel that Rome Wolves football is more important than what happens to the rest of Floyd County. The impact to the Boys & Girls Club budget and youth programs will be tremendous. The memories and good times that you or one of your children or grandchildren experienced as a football player or cheerleader participating at the Boys & Girls Club or Behind the Levee fields may soon change.