Shine some light on the subject

By BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,

It’s hard to get in a baseball game in Indianola in late February and early March.

I try to take advantage of it when they are played. It’s usually later in March and early April when I really get to enjoy America’s pastime.

Mostly this is due to frequent rainouts that plague our area’s high school baseball teams.

We’re not the only ones affected by this, mind you. There are countless baseball teams in the Delta who struggle to find dry ground to even practice on during the last weeks of winter.

A couple of weeks ago, I got word that Gentry High was going to be playing its first home game of the season on a Friday afternoon.

I grabbed my camera and made my way to the field.

It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and there was still good sunlight left.

As I was chatting with the Rams head coach, Timothy Holmes, I said, “Coach, we need to get you some lights out here.”

He smiled and affirmed that observation.

I was serious though, and sure enough, that very game was suspended in the late innings due to, not rain, but darkness.

The Gentry Rams and Lady Rams softball teams need lights. They deserve to have lights.

There are some who would argue that resources would be better spent elsewhere in the school district, and it’s absolutely true that academics should come first.

But if there is a way to make this happen, I think it should at least be discussed.

Athletics should never be first and foremost when it comes to education, but it should factor in the equation at some point.

For one, these athletes put a lot of work in preparing for games that sometimes never get played, or in the case of the Rams’ home opener, get suspended.

Gentry Head Coach Timothy Holmes has put just as much effort into reviving the Rams baseball program into a competitive team each year, only to play a handful of games that are on the schedule.

The girls’ softball team has also enjoyed recent success.

Think of what that would look like if those two programs were able to play A and B games during the winter and spring.

For years, my alma mater Yazoo County High School did not have lights on its baseball field.

Cleveland folks probably remember a crucial district game that was called 1-0 (if my memory serves correctly) in Yazoo’s favor because the sun went down.

It would take several years, but with the partnership between the district, the local electric cooperative and some aggressive parents, the baseball and softball teams finally got lights.

And Yazoo County has become a force on the baseball diamond over the past decade.

Playing sports consistently, without interruption from Mother Nature, allows athletes to mature and get better, and for those who argue that academics should come first, sports often give some players a chance to play at the college level on scholarship.

There are a lot of arguments against tackling this issue.

There’s money, or the lack thereof. There’s the question of how many games can realistically be played due to rain and factors other than the lack of proper lighting.

These questions will always exist, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a conversation to be had.

What can I say? I love baseball, and I want to see our local teams have the best shot at competing each spring.

We can’t do anything about the rain, but lights we can fix.

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