535 Towns, 159 Counties, Five State Champions

As a Georgia resident, I find it interesting that of the 20 schools playing in the boys' semifinals this week, I can find maybe four on a state map. This is after living in the state for five years or so.

This presents an interesting dilemma as we cover championship games this week. In every piece, we attempt to provide a general idea of where a school is located in relation to a major city in the state the games are being played in. In Georgia, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

In 2006, 519 communities were removed from the state map because it was deemed to be too cluttered to navigate. In early 2007, 488 of those communities were returned to their rightful place. In the United States, Georgia has the second largest number of counties behind only Texas, which has over four times the square mileage.

I frequently make the four-hour drive from Atlanta to Savannah and pass through counties that seem smaller than a football field, or basketball court for that matter. The state is so segmented that beyond Atlanta, I’m uncertain readers will be able to relate even to the smaller cities such as Augusta or Columbus.

From briefly reviewing the history of Georgia, the abundant number of counties was based on the idea that farmers should be able to reach their town center and return home within a day by horse or wagon. Fortunately for the 20 teams competing, they will have the opportunity to travel by bus to the four-day event. I just hope they're equipped with GPS or they might never make it.

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