In my 20-plus years in the newspaper business, I’ve covered more state championships than I care to count. My staff and I have covered a number of teams playing for regional and national titles.
Next week, though, will be a whole new ball game. And the game’s in our back yard.
In case you’ve missed the months of stories — and my friend and colleague Jeremy Hoeck on pretty much every sports radio show in the region — the World Archery Youth Championships are coming to Yankton. Archers from around the world have already begun to arrive on our doorstep, and many more will be here before the first competitive arrow flies on Tuesday.
Don’t let the “youth” part of that title fool you: there are some of the top young archers in the world coming here, including some professions, like the one profiled in the Press & Dakotan earlier this week. If you don’t see some of these young men and women in Rio next summer, there is a very good chance you’ll see a few of them in Tokyo in 2020. (And in Boston in 2024, if the people of Boston get their way.)
Signs are already popping up across town, and many more welcoming signs will be up as the archers find their way to this little town. (Yes, it is “little” compared to the metropolitan areas that have hosted this event in the past.) Even businesses that won’t see a lot of direct traffic because of the age group will see some effects. (For instance, a local bar owner mentioned that he had individuals contact him about viewing the Women’s World Cup soccer matches.)
While this is the archers’ time to shine, it is also Yankton’s. Our community will be visible to people from a number of different countries. It won’t be the most people ever in Yankton for one event, but it will be the widest reach for those people. Yankton can put itself on the map for a number of people by being the welcoming hosts that it is capable of being.
Even if you don’t have a big interest in archery, it would be worth your time to take an hour, or an afternoon, and take in the competition. At a minimum, you’ll be able to say you saw (fill in the blank) in person when you’re watching him or her in the Olympics in the future. You could also come away with an appreciation for the sport and the dedicated young men and women who are competing.