AYA basketball parents play important role

Published 12:41 am Sunday, March 9, 2008

I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited about one of my assignments this past week.

On Tuesday night, I made the trek out to the ACCS gym to watch the four championship games of the AYA youth basketball league.

The thought of going out there didn’t thrill me; I mean, they were just little kids and probably didn’t know how to play basketball that well anyway.

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And what kind of crowd would be there on a Tuesday night for three hours watching kids run after a loose basketball?

But I had a job to do, so off I went to spend a very boring three hours and then come back to the office and try to spit out some sort of story, or so I thought.

Boy was I ever wrong.

For three hours on Tuesday night, I was treated to some of the most enjoyable basketball I have watched this year in person, including area high school and Alcorn State games I’ve been to.

First of all, three of the four games were decided by less than two points.

One was decided on a basket with 10 seconds left and another came down to an overtime free throw shootout, which made for some high drama.

Two of the games featured last-minute comebacks as well.

Not only that, but the crowd was outstanding. The gym was nearly full and was one of the loudest gyms I’ve been in this year.

It really rivaled a high school state championship game atmosphere.

They stomped their feet, clapped their hands and chanted out “Lets Go Team” type chants.

Some kids even had signs during one of the games and rushed the floor to celebrate with the winning team.

I left the gym that night with two thoughts.

One of them was how strong youth sports appears to be in the Miss-Lou.

With basketball now over, baseball and softball signups are going on now and I’m sure those leagues are just as strong and well represented as the basketball league is.

My second, and most important, thought was how great it was that parents, friends and other family members take time to support their children in something the kids enjoy.

So many kids nowadays are failing in school or running into trouble in the streets because their parents simply don’t care.

Back when I was in high school and college, I umpired youth baseball. There was nothing more depressing than umpiring a game that kids play with hardly anybody in the stands supporting them.

It’s important to the kids that someone be there to watch and support them, even if they’re not that talented or don’t get to play much.

I know because I was one of those kids. I played Little League Baseball, which basically meant I got my one or two at bats and played a couple innings in right field.

But my parents hardly ever missed one of my games. From the time I started playing when I was 5 to the time I quit playing when I was 13, they were there to support me at almost every game.

Most of the kids that were playing basketball Tuesday night will probably never play organized ball past the age of 13 or 14.

However, by having that parental support, it should give them the confidence to stand out in other areas if athletics isn’t their thing.

So no matter what the final scores were, everyone that played Tuesday night was a winner because of the people sitting in the stands that care about them so much.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or jeff.edwards@natchezdemocrat.com.