Seemingly with a snap of the finger, the weather has shifted from raining every single day to heat that’s so hot it will melt your face off. I checked my weather app last night around 9:00 and the heat index was still 98. If you were to catch a fish right now, it would already be broiled. It’s entirely too hot to spend the night in a tent on a sandbar, as well. Until it cools off a little bit, it’s a good time to stay inside and stay cool.
The problem with being inside is there are no fish to catch and nothing to shoot. I’m pretty much relegated to watching outdoor shows on television. Speaking of television, you know what people aren’t watching? The Olympics. Viewership is down more than 30% from the last Summer Olympics in 2016. I’ve got a few theories as to why viewership is so low. First, athlete fatigue. I know a lot of folks are tired of sports being so politicized, myself included. Next, on demand viewing. It’s pretty easy to record the events and watch at your convenience. Third, we need new events and new venues. This is where this column comes into play.
I think we can all agree that Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever…in a pool. What would happen if we changed the venue, to say, the Mississippi River? Great Britain just set a world record for the 4×100 meter medley. I didn’t see it, but I read about it. I’d certainly tune in to watch our British friends attempt a relay across the Big Muddy. Instead of using different strokes in the race, we’ll just send a barge downstream as an obstacle. The winner gets a gold medal and a steak from Walnut Hills Restaurant in Vicksburg.
Next on the list is boxing. Have you ever watched an Olympic boxing match? Me neither, so let’s change it too. I live a couple of miles down the road from the site of the last sanctioned bareknuckle world heavyweight championship. The fight, between John Sullivan and Jake Kilrain, went 75 rounds with Sullivan winning. It lasted over two hours in temperatures over 100 degrees. I say we take the gloves off and let our Olympians prove their mettle. Fights will begin at noon under the water tower at the intersection of Richburg Road and Sullivan-Kilrain Road. I even get visions of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV saying, “If he dies, he dies.” The last man standing gets a gold medal and an open bar tab at Sully’s Restaurant in Hattiesburg.
The third thing we are replacing is fencing. All of the ideas that I’ve had about sword fighting were crushed the first time I ever watched fencing. First, there is entirely too much body armor. Second, the “sword” is too thin and feminine looking. In changing this event, we will give our contestants the choice between two options: frog gigging on the Big Black River or flounder gigging on the Gulf Coast. Winners will be based off of how many frogs or flounder they return with and total weight. The winner will receive a gold medal and a meal of broiled flounder and fried frog legs from Crechale’s Restaurant in Jackson.
Last, we are going to combine all bicycle sports. There’s no point in having more than one, so we will include all facets in one big event. The race will begin on Highway 49, just south of Florence. Contestants must weave in and out of traffic through Florence and Richland. If you get ran over or hit a giant orange construction barrel, you are out. The course will continue onto Interstate 55 and into downtown Jackson. Once riders reach downtown, the road portion of the event is over. Now begins the off-road, Mississippi version of BMX and mountain biking. The narrow streets and large, hazardous potholes provide the perfect venue for this portion of the ride. The spoils of victory in such an event will be high. The winner receives a gold medal and the opportunity to decide whether or not Mississippi schools will wear masks this year.
I really do think we could do a great job in Mississippi with the Summer Olympics, at least from an entertainment standpoint! Shoot, we could even add noodling as an Olympic event! Wouldn’t that be a sight! Oh, the money I’d pay to watch two fellas from Iraq and Afghanistan trying to wrestle a 40 pound catfish from a hole in Eagle Lake! Maybe they’d understand us a little better afterward.
Since I’ve got the lighter side of this article out of the way, allow me to share something more pressing and serious. As most know, I am a baseball coach at William Carey University. In all of my years of playing ball and coaching, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. One of these is former USM skipper, Corky Palmer. Coach Palmer suffered a major stroke in 2020 and faces a very long recovery. He will require ongoing medical care for the foreseeable future. Any prayers, as well as financial assistance are greatly coveted. If you feel moved to donate to Coach Palmer’s aid, you may do so at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-coach-corky-palmer.