The revived Grand Slam’s run in Tupelo appears over after just two years. As I reported in today’s Journal, the city of Tupelo and the MHSAA have been unable to reach an agreement to bring the state’s overall basketball tournament back to BancorpSouth Arena next year. The association is wanting Tupelo to pony up more guaranteed money, and that ain’t happenin’.
I can’t really find anywhere to place the blame. Gas prices make coming to Tupelo an expensive proposition, especially if you’re south of Jackson.
“If you had five out of 10 state champions from the Coast or Hattiesburg area,” Jackson Provine boys coach Luther Riley said, “that would be really terrible on their budget.”
Guess you can chalk this up to bad timing. If the Slam had been re-established a few years earlier, perhaps it would be entrenched enough in the state’s basketball consciousness to weather this fuel crisis. Maybe in a few years, when America weans itself off the Arabic oil nipple, the Slam can return here.
I just hope they find a home for it in the mean time. The coaches love it, the players love it, us media types love it. MHSAA honcho Dr. Ennis Proctor said he loves it (not those exact words). There are a few crusty cynics who will be glad to see the Slam go, and many of you just won’t care, which is something else that helped kill the Slam here: apathy.
If the MHSAA can’t find a way to continue the Slam, that apathy will ultimately be the biggest obstacle to its long-term success.