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Return of youth sports is far more important than who wins the game

For many, they simply could not wait any longer. For many, a decision had to be made.

Yet, thankfully for the youth in Vicksburg and Warren County, calmer, more patient heads appear to have prevailed.

As cities and counties throughout Mississippi — some as early as mid-March — began cancelling youth sports leagues in activities, league officials in Vicksburg and Warren County simply postponed.

As others waited a few weeks and then ultimately cancelled their seasons, league officials in Vicksburg and Warren County sat, and waited.

After Gov. Tate Reeves announcement Friday, it appears the calm, patient approach local officials took will mean hundreds of local children will have a season — a season far too many in Mississippi lost.

In his announcement Friday, Reeves gave the green light to leagues such as the Vicksburg Girls Softball Association and the Vicksburg Warren Athletic Association to begin their seasons as of next week. Now while the games may not begin next week — or in the case of the VWAA, later in the summer or even August — there is finally something area children, who have seen a lot of their normalcy evaporate because of the virus, can celebrate.

In recent weeks, some parents have decided that no matter when the parks open or when the seasons begin, their children will not participate. That is a decision that is understandable, but for a vast majority, the start of a season — a sense of normalcy — cannot return fast enough.

From the federal government down, leaders and health officials have warned there is an emotional and mental impact this quarantine — brought about by the spread of the COVID-19 virus — is having on adults. It is having an equally damaging impact on our children if not more so.

For our children, they may not fully appreciate the health threat posed by the virus, or the steps that were needed and continue to be needed to slow the spread and keep them safe. For our children, they may not fully appreciate the economic impact — in some cases economic disaster — that has been caused by society being forced to a grinding halt.

What they do understand is that their school years were abruptly cut short and they have seen routine and normal things, such as a youth baseball season, an evening softball game or the opportunity to compete in a swimming meet, taken away. They understand those things and they understand that disappointment.

For Vicksburg and Warren County, the resumption of youth sports will have a positive impact on the economy, as tournaments at Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi can resume with strict guidelines. Restaurants, gas stations and hotels will enjoy the residual impact of tournaments returning.

But, the positive economic impact aside, the return of youth sports is far more important than dollars and cents; it is important to our children and that is all the positive impact we could need and hope for.