COLUMN: It's triathlon time watch out for gators and lightning

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
July 9, 2004
For those who haven't noticed, this is really a busy time of year for sports in the area.
There's an abundance of golf tournaments every week.
Area youth baseball tournaments are taking place just about anywhere you look, thanks to a multitude of leagues (Babe Ruth, Dixie Youth, Dizzy Dean, American Legion, Cal Ripken, and Lord knows what all else) and age divisions in each league.
Two of the state's top triathlons take place this Saturday and July 24. The 18th-annual Sunfish Summer Triathlon is set for Saturday at Lake Okatibbee with the 25th-annual Heart o' Dixie slated for July 24 with the start at Louisville and the finish at the Neshoba County Fairgrounds.
There was a time when I thought it was punishment to have to cover a triathlon, simply because of all the names and times that have to go with the story.
After having watched both of the area's races for several years, they actually get to be kind of fun to observe. Many of the athletes compete year after year, so it's good to see the familiar faces.
And there's usually some kind of unexpected excitement that goes with the races. Like two years ago at the Sunfish when an alligator, estimated in the 12-foot range, was headed in the same direction as the last 20 or so swimmers and not all that far behind them.
Or at the Heart o' Dixie a few years before that when lightning began popping around some of the riders on their bikes. The female champion that year said one hit was about 50 yards from her and encouraged her to peddle a lot faster.
Another incident at the HoD came when an athlete, whose only goal was to complete the race, stopped at Woody's in Noxapater for a drink and a bite to eat.
Realizing he was in a race, several people waiting in line offered to let him go ahead of them, but he replied that was okay, he wasn't in that big a hurry.
And another big event begins this weekend, the annual stickball games at the Choctaw Indian Fair. Prior to Wednesday, games usually begin around dark. When the Fair gets underway on Wednesday, they don't start until after 10 p.m.
If you've never seen stickball, you ought to make a trip to the Pearl River Reservation and head to Choctaw Central's football field.
I can promise you'll have a bigger crowd than you'll find at any high school football game this fall, except for maybe Wayne County and West Jones.
Speaking of high school sports, I couldn't help but notice that the MHSAA is adding bowling to its list of sanctioned sports this year.
What I really couldn't overlook was this classic quote by MHSAA executive director Ennis Proctor, "Frankly, every town of every size has a bowling alley. I can't see how it's going to do anything but help."
I'd like for Proctor to show me the bowling alleys in Newton, Decatur, DeKalb, Philadelphia, Union, Carthage, etc. Union had one in the early '60s, but it folded … due to a lack of interest.
Maybe it doesn't matter if only a handful of schools compete. After all, most towns don't have a pool that a school can use and the MHSAA sanctions swimming for those that care to compete.
The MHSAA's two-month bowling season will begin in January. At least it will be warmer than soccer at that time of year.
In recent years, the MHSAA has added soccer, fast-pitch softball, and weightlifting to its list of activities.
You've got to wonder what's next. Racquetball? Obviously a lack of facilities doesn't hamper sports already sanctioned.
Ping pong or table tennis? It would be about as cheap a sport as one could add.
Skateboarding? Probably not. One word … liability.
How about fishing? You could split it up several ways. The Gulf Coast schools should dominate the salt water division and the Delta would be a force in cane poling in catfishing. Our part of the state should be competitive in bass fishing.
Hand grabbing would not be sanctioned.
How about pool? You could have 8-ball, 9-ball, and rotation divisions.
Stay tuned.

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