Want to watch Hardaway and Jordan play their respective home games on Friday night? Gas up the car because neither the Hawks nor the Red Jackets will be playing in town.
Hardaway and Jordan, along with Kendrick and Columbus, combined to sell eight of their home games for a total of $31,200.
Hardaway will be playing its home game at Cairo. The Hawks are receiving $5,000 from Cairo to play the game at West Thomas Stadium, the home of the Syrupmakers.
Meanwhile, Jordan will be playing its home game at Manchester. The Red Jackets are also getting $5,000.
“The No. 1 reason is financial,” Muscogee County School District system-wide athletic director Jeff Battles said. “All sports programs are self-funded. Gate money from home football games helps every program, especially the non-revenue sports. The costs of officials, security, etc., continues to go up.”
Columbus averaged making $4,354 per home game last season, while Hardaway averaged $1,755, Jordan $468 and Kendrick $153.
Hardaway had also sold a game to Lee County for $7,500, but that contest, scheduled for Sept. 2, was canceled because of Hurricane Hermine.
Jordan’s game against Manchester is one of four games the Red Jackets sold for a total of $13,500. The others were Sept. 23 to Upson-Lee, Oct. 21 to Heard County and Nov. 4 to Callaway.
Kendrick sold two games for $7,700 (Oct. 21 to Peach County and Oct. 28 to Jackson), and Columbus sold one (Oct. 28 to Cairo) for $5,000.
The MCSD refused to allow the athletic directors or coaches at Hardaway, Jordan, Kendrick and Columbus to address the issue.
Battles said the $13,500 Jordan is scheduled to make for selling its home games will account for about 50 percent of the school’s athletic budget, while Kendrick will cover about a third of its budget, Hardaway about 25 percent and Columbus about 10 percent.
“The money they get from selling these games is dispersed throughout the athletic departments, and the money goes to pay bills,” Battles said. “Schools will still need to have fund-raisers like Jordan is doing to buy new uniforms, however.”
Six of the eight games sold are region contests, meaning the outcomes of those games will affect various region standings and playoff berths.
Cairo is in the same region (1-4A) as Columbus and Hardaway, as well as Carver and Northside. Carver and Northside have regular-scheduled games at Cairo later this season.
Both of Kendrick’s sold games, to Peach County and Jackson, are Region 4-3A games. There are no other MCSD teams in 4-3A.
Jordan’s games sold to Heard County and Callaway are Region 5-2A contests. Spencer is also in 5-2A.
Battles said he didn’t think other teams in the region are affected by the selling of region contests.
“I don’t want to say it is unfair,” Battles said. “Tucker sold a game to Colquitt County earlier this year, then went down there and beat them.
“This is not something out of the ordinary. I don’t think it is an advantage or disadvantage for region teams. Some programs need to do this. Carver and Northside will bring in big enough crowds that they will make enough money from the gates.
“If you are good enough, you will win at home or away.”
Home away from home
* Hardaway was also set to get $7,500 from Lee County for a game on Sept. 2, but that game was canceled due to Hurricane Hermine.