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Football remains king in the South

The phrase “football in the South is a unique phenomenon” can be considered a truism, something that’s just “duh.”

More often than not, the importance of football in our culture is not even worth mentioning, unless we’re comparing ourselves as southerners to people outside the South.

Every now and then, however, I’m reminded of just how much football is seeped into our culture. And I don’t have to look very far from my own back yard.

On Wednesday, athletes from around the Miss-Lou will sign with junior colleges and four-year colleges to continue their football career. National Signing Day, which falls on the first Wednesday each February, is the first day prep football players from around the country can sign letters of intent with the schools of their choice.

Whether you’re a fan of local sports who’s interested in seeing which schools our area athletes choose, or you’re a fan of Alcorn State, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Delta State, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss or Southern Mississippi, National Signing Day always proves to be an exciting time.

But the attention to college football recruiting while football season is still six months away isn’t the only indication that football is truly king down South. Just look as some of our spring sports if you need another example.

Natchez High School’s powerlifting team has gotten started with its season, and the importance of football to these young athletes can be seen in their dedication to the sport of powerlifting.

NHS assistant powerlifting coach Steve Davis said spring sports like track and field and powerlifting go hand in hand with football as far as preparing athletes for the gridiron.

“It can make them stronger and can be used to improve speed and quickness,” Davis said. “We use (powerlifting) as a secondary sport.”

Cathedral High School’s Ishmael Blackmon runs track for the Green Wave in the spring, and he said track helps him improve his skills as a wide receiver.

“Conditioning-wise, it helps me get faster and helps me explode better,” Blackmon said. “It actually gets me extremely fast, and I can use that speed on the football field, which helps me out a lot.”

By no means would I suggest these athletes don’t care about spring sports beyond what they can do to aid in football. Most, if not all, of them would say they genuinely enjoy lifting weights or competing in track and field. But the added incentive to help with football only makes these sports that much more attractive.

Finally, be sure to tune in to CBS at 5:30 tonight. There’s a big game — perhaps you’ve heard of it? — between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.

Billed as the most-watched sporting even in the country, the Super Bowl is further proof that football is indeed king, even outside of the South. While college football may reign in the hearts of us Southerners as our No. 1 choice for football enjoyment, we as football lovers can all agree on what we’ll be doing tonight.

 

Michael Kerekes is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.