Sports column: The fall sports schedule is getting crowded

Published 11:00 am Sunday, July 23, 2023

Whenever someone mentions football season coming up, and playfully suggests that it must be the busy time of year, I laugh a little.

Fridays during football season are hectic. If everything goes according to plan, however, the rest of the week is easy. We get the legwork for our preview stories done early in the week so it works out to two busy days and five reasonable ones.

Or, at least, that was how it used to be.

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Beginning this August, the Mississippi High School Activities Association will play its golf season in the fall semester rather than the spring. Along with the offerings from the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools, it brings to seven the number of high school sports that are played between August and October — golf, football, swimming, volleyball and cross country in both associations, and girls soccer and softball in the MAIS only. That list does not include girls’ cheer and dance teams.

The non-football sports do well to fill up the six days of the week that are not Friday, but lumping them all in the fall is creating a massive problem. The landscape is simply too crowded, and not just for fans trying to keep track of it all.

In the MAIS, having three major girls’ sports in the fall causes all sorts of headaches. St. Aloysius has several athletes who play two or three sports — and a few who are on the cheer or dance teams as well — and have to either juggle multiple activities with schoolwork or give one of them up.

The MHSAA’s decision to move golf to the fall will have a similar effect. A number of football players and coaches played the sport in the spring. It’s going to be a much more difficult option in the middle of football season.

Daylong tournaments during the week will conflict with practice time. Playing on the weekend, when many courses are filled with recreational golfers or booked for charity tournaments, is a difficult task. Clear Creek Golf Course, for example, has tournaments scheduled on each of the first three Saturdays in September.

It’s unclear why so many sports are now in the fall — or should it be summer, since most of the seasons are over or winding down by mid-September? — but it’s an increasingly untenable situation.

The MAIS could help by moving its girls soccer season to the winter, when its boys already play, and softball to the spring to match the MHSAA season. Both seasons are light on girls’ team sports.

The MHSAA should move golf back to the spring, and maybe it will if this season proves to be the scheduling nightmare it has the potential to be. Under the leadership of current director Rickey Neaves, the association has seemed willing to backtrack on unpopular ideas.

From a media standpoint, having so many sports in one season makes it difficult to give each its proper due. Football sucks so much oxygen from the room during those months that there isn’t much left for the other sports to breathe.

It’d be nice to spread things around a little. Let them stretch their legs. Allow more athletes to have the time to participate. It’s the smart thing to do.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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