Not being on TV could be good for Lady Wildcats

By Staff
March 9, 2001
Thoughts whizzing about while wondering if the Bulldogs will get an NIT bid…
As I sniffle, sneeze, cough and wheeze while watching the hapless Mississippi State Bulldogs blow yet another one, the phone rings.
Um, I'm at the office by the way, in case I hadn't made that clear.
The voice on the other end was a familiar one.
It seems a journalist friend of mine who works at one of the local TV stations (WMDN) was calling to voice his opinion about the story that ran in Thursday morning's edition about the fact the Class 5A State Girls and Boys High School Championship games would not be televised in Meridian this year.
So, I informed him that I had been at home with the flu since Monday night and that I didn't know all the specifics about the story in question.
But I also asked him if there was anything wrong with the piece as far as its factual basis.
He said no, but did point out that the other competing station, WTOK TV, would also have had a chance to pick up the broadcast and not just his station.
There wasn't much I could say to that without hurting the guy's feelings. Instead I told him as best I could that while I wasn't sure why his point wasn't made in the story, it seemed since his station had done those type of games in the past and the originating station was a CBS affiliate that his employers would be the ones to bring the Meridian High Lady Wildcats to those Lauderdale County residents who won't be at the Big House.
To be fair, I thought I would call the other station and see if my friend was right.
It took a while to get through to someone at over at WTOK. Some young girl in the newsroom was having serious trouble transferring me to my intended party. Finally, I got through to Lindsey Hall.
It turns out my friend was right. WTOK could have picked up the Meridian/Tupelo game too. But Hall said he wasn't sure why his station didn't decide to pick it up and any official explanation would have to come from his station manager.
Since it was going on 6 p.m. I figured that getting something from one of the two guys he named was pretty much out of the question and a couple of voice messages later, I was right.
Hall did say that he has been told in the past that the occasions are quite rare that the ABC television network would allow affiliates to bump any prime time programming.
Apparently, that Friday evening Wheel of Fortune is quite a doozy of a ratings cash cow.
But anyway, here's how I look at it.
When I heard it wouldn't be televised, my first thought was, Well that's Meridian for you."
But then I got to thinking about it a little more. As bad as Meridian is about traveling to support teams, a televised game probably hurts Donald Shirley and his team much worse.
This way no one can watch it if they don't get off their lazy duffs, make the 85-mile trek to Jackson and pay for a seat in the coliseum. If it's on TV at home, be honest people, how many of you will opt to watch it on the tube rather than turn in the actual support?
The fact is it doesn't matter which TV station dropped the ball on the coverage. That they did so is ultimately a good thing for the Lady Wildcats.
If you want to see the game, go to it. Don't be mad if it doesn't come to you. If nothing else, catch a ride with a friend.
Heck, I'll take it a step further. I think this whole county should turn out in force at 1 p.m. today to support Southeast Lauderdale too. God knows, they deserve it. But then again, if you listen to the so-called experts, they have no chance.
Yeah right.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rdark@themeridianstar.com.

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