Davis, who is the Recreation Program Coordinator and Outdoor Recreation Director at Delta State University, is always looking for sports and activities that will have youth involved. One sport that has gotten Davis’ attention is BMX racing.
Tuesday evening at Forest E. Wyatt Gymnasium, Davis conducted a public meeting to see if there was an interest to see if getting BMX racing in Cleveland was worth pursuing. The small group of people that attended the meeting were excited about the prospect of BMX racing being available for youth in Cleveland.
According to Davis, BMX racing is on the rise in the country. BMX racing is part of the Summer Olympics.
One thing that really peaked Davis’ interest in BMX racing was the participation in the Delta Down and Dirty Youth Obstacle and Challenge Run for youth ages 6-14. A total of 340 youth participated in the event. The event also provided youth with another avenue to compete in athletics that weren’t just the regular main stream sports like football, basketball, baseball, etc.
“The Delta Down and Dirty, the race that we did for kids, was overwhelmingly successful,” Davis said. “The push for more things like this and more events where kids get involved and feel a sense of pride that they’ve completed something or participated in something, I don’t think they are always getting that in team sports. I think team sports become more of a hassle to get your kids to go to all the time.”
Davis has never participated in BMX racing in his life and doesn’t want to take away from the sports that’s already available for youth in the community. He believes BMX has great possibilities as far getting the current generation of youth active outside.
“What I see with the vision here is we create a culture with a new sort of age of kids that are going to do things that are exciting in their life,” Davis said. “I’m tired of hearing that the Delta has nothing to offer us. The problem is we don’t have a spirited group of people that want to go out and go against the grain.”
Among the things discussed was what might be needed to build a track, where a good spot for it in Cleveland or in Bolivar County would be and how much it might cost to build it. No definite figures were decided but it would be something that Davis would have to look into. Davis also plans to put together a questionnaire or survey to give out to people especially the youth in the community to see if BMX is something young people would be interested in participating in. Davis also plans to start a Facebook page to see how many likes it would get. Once a good interest is generated, Davis would like to get an organization started and present a plan to the city.
Judson Thigpen, Executive Director of the Cleveland Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, felt BMX racing in Cleveland has the potential to be beneficial once everything is mapped out for it.
“I think there is a group of people who are interested enough to go ahead and see this thing to the point to where if there is enough interest that they would go ahead and see this thing get done,” Thigpen said. “I can imagine there would be a number of kids in town that have an interest in this type of sport. I think if it’s there, I think there are enough people with an interest to see that it works.”
In BMX racing, even if a racer doesn’t or get in the top three, he can still receive points and have a chance to succeed individual standings.
Hugh Biles, a local resident at the meeting, competed in BMX racing when he was young. Biles said it would be a huge benefit to the youth of the community.
“It’s a chance for people that don’t want to compete in team sports to compete individual sports,” Biles said. “I got to go see the entire country because of it. It opens up the doorway to do a while bunch of things.
“It’s a unique skill, it’s great exercise and it’s great to be outdoors. It’s good to be out from in front of the TV.”
Robby Stine, another local resident at the meeting, echoed Biles’ sentiments.
“The part about BMX racing is everybody can be involved and everybody can be active enjoying life and their childhood,” Stine said. “I think if you don’t have that anymore, you’re going to see a drastic change in our future leaders and where we’re going to be.”