Hartselle's success one of a kind

By Staff
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
It's always impressive when a team makes it to the Dixie Youth World Series. It means they are the best of the best in their state, and have already survived a gauntlet of district and state tournament competition.
It shows that a group of girls who didn't play together during the regular season can come together on an all-star team on short notice and quickly learn how to play as a team. It's an impressive feat for any town to have a representative at the national championship.
To have three teams make it to the World Series? That's unbelievable.
After a quick browsing of the brackets for the five Dixie Youth Softball World Series tournaments, Hartselle and Marianna, Fla., are the only two teams that have three participants this year. However, Marianna is the host for the Ponytails, Belles and Debs World Series and therefore their teams automatically qualify for those World Series.
Mena (Ark.), Warner Robins (Ga.), Belleview (Fla.) and Denison (Texas) each qualified in two World Series, but Hartselle's success in Dixie Youth Softball this year is truly one of a kind. Or three of a kind, if you prefer.
Congratulations and good luck to all the teams.
Who's Now? Who Cares? : There have been a lot of things about ESPN that I have disliked over the years – Chris Berman's "back back back," Joe Morgan's incompetence and Bob Davie's attempt at "footbaw" analysis, just to name a few. But I don't think I've ever seen anything quite as asinine as ESPN's current summer-time-filler "Who's Now?".
If you haven't seen it, it takes up about 15 minutes of your average SportsCenter episode and features several ESPN and athletic personalities arguing the merits of various sports stars of today. Rather than discussing athletic prowess or success, however, an emphasis is instead placed on who has the most celebrity and star power – you get extra "now"ness if you're a sports figure who's been seen with lots of girlfriends or at the swankest parties.
This is what you get when Paris Hilton is the leading news story in America.
Even the name is dumb. You just know some corporate executive came up with it in a soulless boardroom because, "It's hip; it's with it. It will really appeal to that 18-to-25 demographic!"
Where's the good news? : It really is a shame, but you can pick any major sports league in America right now and the main story is about something involving crime or corruption.
The NFL? Look no further than Michael Vick's dogfighting allegations or the Cincinnati Bengals' chain gang that's impersonating a football team. The MLB? I only need to say this, "*." Even the NBA (perhaps the most screwed-up league of all – remember the Pistons-Pacers brawl and the Suns-Spurs playoff fiasco?) managed to break open a new door with allegations one of its referees was involved in fixing games.
You have to wonder if the public is getting sick with the way that sports have evolved over the years – this year's NBA Finals and Stanley Cup were the lowest-rated ever and the 2006 World Series was also the lowest rated in MLB's history. In a world that features so many other outlets for entertainment, it seems as if professional sports might be at a major crossroads – improve your image or lose your business.

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