The World Cup, UGA and other thoughts

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, July 26, 2018

Spoiler alert — a non-negotiable and finite deadline doesn’t allow me the opportunity to discuss the primary runoff results this week. That’s OK. We can talk about it next week.

Besides, Junior E. Lee, general manager of the Yarbrough Worldwide Media and Pest Control Company, located in Greater Garfield, is busy spraying Arvel Ridley’s barn for fleas and doesn’t have time right now. Junior is not only one of the nation’s most highly respected and astute political analysts, he is also a pest control professional. That is a rare combination.

I don’t know a lot about soccer, but I am on a steep learning curve since I am told that Cameron Charles Yarbrough, who puts the “great” in great-grandson, is showing some proclivity for the sport. I watched a bit of the World Cup recently, and while I didn’t understand a lot of the strategies, I was awed at the players skill to curve the ball like a boomerang while running at full speed.

I was also struck by the black and white teammates on the winning French team standing arm-in-arm and singing their national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” unlike the overpaid knee-jerks in the National Football League who disrespect theirs.

With the popularity of the NFL waning and, as more mommas discourage their kids from playing football lest they end up with mush brains as likely will many of the knee-jerks, soccer is on the rise. May we raise a generation of outstanding soccer players that will emulate the French in their national pride.

Don’t look now, but the University of Georgia, the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the south, just announced that donors have contributed more than $1 billion to the Commit to Georgia Campaign, which has a goal of raising $1.2 billion by June 30, 2020, for additional scholarships to fund critical research and to further enhance the university’s learning environment.

A billion dollars? I remember when we used to high-five over one-tenth that amount. The place is on fire and much credit goes to UGA President Jere Moorhead for his quiet and effective leadership.

It is hard to believe that it has been 22 years since the Centennial Olympic Games. The Games were outstanding. The city of Atlanta was not. The city’s marketing director took the whole thing as a big joke, proposing to bounce ads off the moon and put billboards on stray dogs.

The city government, indemnified from any tax liability, nonetheless set up an ambush marketing program courting Olympic sponsors’ competitors and established a traffic-clogging street vendor program that looked like a third-world country on steroids. The local media chose to nitpick us instead of holding the city’s inept feet to the fire lest they be labeled racist by a city administration that could make a racial issue out of a lima bean.

When the games were over, I took a 2-by-4 to the whole crowd in a guest editorial. That was the beginning of a 20-year run as the most widely syndicated columnist in Georgia. Thanks, guys. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Kudos to Georgia’s senior senator, Johnny Isakson, for his fight against proposed tariffs by the Trump Administration on Canadian newsprint, which could severely cripple the newspaper industry by making newsprint insanely expensive.

“Local newspapers are a vital source of news and community information, especially in rural and small-town America. Unfair or punitive action taken against producers of groundwood paper would threaten to put many Georgia newspapers out of business,” Isakson says.

Virtually, the entire newspaper industry is opposing the import tax. You should, too. No community is made better without a local newspaper. Thankfully, Johnny Isakson is on the case.

Finally, Dr. Raymond Cook, an English literature professor, who had a profound impact on an unfocused college freshman about to flunk out of school, turned 99 years old last week. Dr. Cook lives in Valdosta and while his body is a bit frail, his mind is as sharp as ever.

I don’t want to over-dramatize it, but I doubt I would be where I am today and doing what I am doing had I not crossed his path those many years ago. It is a reminder to our public schoolteachers that while our politicians try to undermine you at every level, you are making a difference in some young person’s life. Please don’t give up.