CATEGORY: EDT Editorials

AUTHOR: JOER

Editorial, Monday, June 7, 1999

Mississippi proved a lot to the world during the just-concluded U.S. Women's Open golf championship at Old Waverly in West Point. More important, it proved something to itself.

Mississippians, thanks to the initial vision and persistence of businessman and golf lover George Bryan, were able to land a world-class sporting event for the first time ever. They handled it with world-class aplomb.

The course, Bryan's field of dreams, was in immaculate shape. The clubhouse and grounds were in beautiful form. The volunteers were legion, and the crowds came.

All of the planning and sweating and anxiety culminated in a tournament atmosphere, ambience and organization that made golfers feel at home and gave visitors of all stripes a positive impression. For many, old stereotypes of Mississippi as an impoverished backwater no doubt evaporated in the summer heat and humidity, which unfortunately were beyond the control of tournament organizers.

The players, golf officials, media and spectators will pack up and leave West Point and other points around Northeast Mississippi with memories of more than the weather, however. And those memories and impressions will spread, creating a ripple of new images of our state in many distant places.

Back home, meanwhile, Old Waverly folks, the West Point community, and all of Northeast Mississippi can engage in some well-deserved self-congratulations. All too often Mississippians have suffered from a self-inflicted inferiority complex, believing those who would write us off as incapable of competing with the best in the country in anything. That inferiority complex is the root of a defensiveness that sometimes comes across to others as narrow parochialism, further contributing to the negative stereotypes.

The 1999 U.S. Women's Open provides new testimony to the folly of that inferiority complex and to the reality that there is nothing Mississippians can't do if they will only believe in their own capacity to do it.

No, successfully hosting a professional golf championship won't ensure that other ambitious, and ultimately more important, goals can be achieved in our state. It won't by itself make anything else happen without hard effort. But it does throw one more shovel of dirt on the grave where this state's historic self-doubt should be buried forever.

Successes beget more successes. That's a fact for individuals, communities and states.

The U.S. Women's Open is a success, first of all, for Bryan, Old Waverly and West Point. But it's also Northeast Mississippi's and the entire state's success.

All should benefit from the residual effects of that success, not just in the changed perceptions of outsiders but in our own expanded vision of what Mississippi is capable of doing.

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