Saints in Mississippi? Why not?

By By Rob Sigler
June 27, 2001
The Mississippi Magnolias? Mississippi Cotton Pickers? Mississippi Catfish?
The Saints in Mississippi?
It's mind boggling, but folks, stranger things have happened.
During my final few months in Picayune, there were plenty of rumors flying around about the NFL franchise relocating to the Magnolia State in either Pearl River or Hancock counties.
Most people just joked about it, but with the breakdown in talks between the state of Louisiana and Saints owner Tom Benson Tuesday, no one is laughing anymore.
This has gotten serious.
Certainly Benson is using Mississippi as leverage to get his new stadium in New Orleans, but the state has a golden opportunity here, and if they play their cards right, this could be the deal that puts Mississippi on national professional sporting map.
Can Mississippi pull it off? Well, I lived on the Gulf Coast for over 20 years and never dreamed the day would come when glitzy gambling vessels would be docked on the shore pouring money into the state's coffers.
Can it happen? Why not?
Parents go to sports school
Attending youth sporting events over the years, a sports guy can see it all on a Little League baseball diamond. Infield "home runs" or run downs that can last forever, for example.
That's the fun part, but unfortunately there is also the dark side where coaches and parents can get out of hand when they feel the umpire is giving them a raw deal or their kid isn't getting enough playing time. A disturbing growing trend are verbal disagreements escalating into physical violent acts.
One of the most recent cases that received national publicity was a parent beating a coach to death at a youth hockey game in Massachusetts.
One state, however, has decided to combat the problem.
North Carolina State University's Department of Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management, through the financial assistance of the National Football League and the National Recreation and Park Association, is developing a national program aimed to teach parents how to help kids age six to 12 enjoy their children's sporting events.
Clearly the actions of many parents indicate a growing problem,'' said Michael Kanters, the NCSU assistant professor leading the program. A parent education program has the potential to both minimize the negative impact of inappropriate parent involvement, and teach parents how to help their children get the most out of their sport experiences.''
Youth recreational organizations in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Missouri are expected to test the program this fall once the curriculum is in place.
Programs like these may be helpful, but the only thing that can truly contain this problem are parents realizing it's only a game. There is no life and death involved.
Barnes opposes NCAA ruling
Fall Friday night's have been pretty special for Coach Mac Barnes over the years, as they have been for countless high school football athletes and fans.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's recent decision to allow college teams to schedule football games on Friday night does not sit well with Barnes or among others in his profession.
"I think it's a pretty selfish decision," said Barnes. "By and large, high schools have always worked with the colleges. But the NCAA passes rules that affect high school athletics without asking the high schools what they think. I'm not a strong supporter of the NCAA."
Coach Barnes is obviously not alone.
Rob Sigler is a sports editor for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rsigler@themeridianstar.com.

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