State Games pulls people together
By By Stan Torgerson / sports columnist
June 24, 2003
When the State Games of Mississippi were conceived for Meridian there were as many skeptics as believers.
Other states had tried the concept and succeeded but we were not other states. People playing as if they were Olympic athletes during the hot month of June? It was obviously going to be a one-time thing.
Well, it wasn't and it isn't. The State Games became a hit in Meridian and, admittedly, the rest of the state slowly began to take notice. The Games still don't get the press statewide to which they are entitled, but the near and far of the draw has improved dramatically.
The games still have their disbelievers. They point to the lack of attendance at many, if not most of the events. Parents and friends come, but who else?
Those doubters miss the point. The State Games are not designed to be spectator events. They are participatory events, to provide the thrill of competition for young and old, dedicated to individual and team efforts, not to the ticket sales count.
In a year's time there are a few events that pull people from a community, and the state itself, together. The State Games of Mississippi are one such.
There no longer seems to be any doubt that long time Ole Miss mascot Colonel Reb, has been retired to his veranda. Athletic Director Pete Boone has made the call and Pete is the type that can take heat if he's certain he's right and he is apparently certain.
Those who are threatening to withdraw their financial support to the program, turn in their season tickets and show their displeasure by boycotting athletic events are just whistling Dixie when Dixie is no longer in fashion. We saw it and heard it when the Rebel flag was banned on the campus but now it is just a memory, not an issue. Colonel Reb will be the same. I can live with both decisions. But if they ever take away the nickname Rebels they will have some trouble with me.
Anything For a Story
Maybe we should devise an ACT test for sports writers and broadcasters in order to see just how smart they are. The NCAA News in a recent edition published a story about writers who somehow made chicken salad out of chicken feathers when discussing the problems at the University of Georgia. Said the story's writer, John R. Gerdy of Ohio University: "It was ironic that in the coverage of the University of Georgia's basketball scandal, more than one reporter suggested there was a "winner" in all of this: The University of Tennessee's basketball program. Because Georgia discontinued its season Tennessee received a first round bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament."
That's like saying John Smith's widow was lucky because she got to collect his insurance.
If any writer was dumb enough and twisted enough to find a black mark against any college or university is actually gold for someone else he is in the wrong business. I don't know who was the dumbest, the kids at Georgia that got their school in that mess or the writers who tried to rationalize it.
My Time is Your Time
Also in the NCAA news was an article by a student athlete at little Fairfield University about the demands on his time.
So the NCAA looked at its own rules and found some interesting loopholes. The hours that count toward the mandatory 20 hour per week maximum include, practice, conditioning, chalk talk, game day, camps/clinics/workshops, watching game films, weightlifting and on court activity.
But now let's look at non-countable athletically related activities, the ones that don't count against the 20 hour ceiling. They include training room rehab, community service, hosting a recruit, study hall, activities with boosters, CHAMPS/Life Skills activities, career services, time with an academic counselor, working with the media and educational programming.
There are even more but this will give you an idea. Anyone who thinks that being a college athlete is only a 20 hour per week job hasn't read NCAA Bylaw 17 very carefully.