The growth of the Utah Summer Games has been noticed at the national level.
Douglas B. Arnot, president of the National Congress of State Games, is one of those impressed with Utah's record. He was one of the featured speakers at Tuesday's Summer Games Kick-off Luncheon at the Little America Hotel."Utah has become a key player in state games across the nation . . . throughout the country Utah serves as a unique symbol of brotherhood," he said.
Opportunity and inspiration are the two words which state games should be all about, he added.
State games provide the "Opportunity of development of self esteem." He said he heard one youngster state after competing in a state games, "I never knew I could be that good."
"Our goal is to make kids feel that way," Arnot said.
"State games can inspire athletes and would-be athletes and even those who are never going to participate in a state games." State games "can be a tremendously special event for the people of a state."
He lauded the efforts put forth by the many people involved in Utah's games, particularly those of executive director Rich Wilson and his associate, Cory L. Duckworth. Because of Utah's success, it has been selected as the site for the 1990 convention for the National Congress of State Games.
In addition to Arnot, three-time Olympian Harvey Glance, a gold-medal-winning sprinter out of Auburn, spoke, stressing the importance of providing opportunities for people to fulfill their dreams.
"At 8-years-old I had dreams." He talked about how at 15 in 1972 he dedicated himself to making the 1976 Olympic team. He said he got little support. "Everyone would say, `Look at that fool on the road (he said he jogged with boots on to give him strength).' I spent countless hours in the weight room. I seemed like an outcast, but I was in pursuit of a dream."
Glance told how he wrote a paper for an English class about how he was going to become an Olympian. His teacher told him to get serious. After he won a gold medal at the 1976 games in Montreal, he returned to his high school to give a speech. "The first person I looked for was that English teacher," he said.
His goal, he said, "Is to be the best that Harvey Glance can be."
The fourth annual Summer Games, which will be held in Cedar City June 26 through July 1, is expected to be the biggest and best yet, which means 5,000 or so athletes should participate since more than 4,300 did last year.
Participation has increased considerably since 1986 when 896 athletes competed. In 1987 1,584 took part and last year, the first for regional competition, the participation level topped 4,000.
There will be at least one new competitor this year. During his speech, Lt. Gov. Val Oveson said now that he is 50 pounds lighter than last year, he is ready to take part. He said he'll compete in the 10K run.