More than 4,000 amateur athletes are expected to compete in 20 sports this week during the 1988 Utah Summer Games, with the total number of participants some six times greater than those competing in the inaugural games two years ago.
For the second consecutive year, the annual statewide, Olympic-like competition is drawing twice as many participants than the previous year. Last year's 1,800 total was more than double of the first-year group of 750 athletes.Why the increase this year? A few reasons might include:
- The glamour of an Olympic year. For the first time in their three-year history, the Summer Games coincide with the Summer Olympics. While Cedar City is a far cry from Seoul or even the U.S. Olympic Trials, nobody could complain about winning a medal at the 1988 Summer Games - even if it is the 1988 Utah Summer Games.
- The addition of four new sports. Added to Games III this year are tennis, weight lifting, soccer and karate - the latter two were exhibition sports last year.
- The addition of regional qualifying competitions. Four regionals were conducted earlier in Logan, Salt Lake City, Orem and Richfield in five sports - basketball, volleyball, softball, swimming and track and field.
In addition to refining the competition advancing to the Games, the regional qualifying contests encouraged increased local interest. In fact, each of the four regionals drew more competitors than the 1986 Games' 750-athlete total.
- the doubling up as state championships. The 1988 Utah Summer Games will serve as four state championships: women's Class III gymnastics, TAC track and field, karate and JOAD archery. Also, the softball competition is considered as the USSSA regional qualifier.
- The retaining of the three age divisions created last year. Participants will compete according to age - scholastic, 14 to 18 years; open, 18 to 35 years; and masters, 35 and older.
Utah residents who have been living in the state prior to March 1 are eligible to compete in Games III. Last year, 26 of the state's 29 counties were represented, with more than 50 percent coming from counties from Utah County - or parallel - on north.
The sports for the 1988 Games include archery, basketball, boxing, bowling, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, horseshoes, karate, marathon, shooting, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, weight lifting, wrestling and a 10-kilometer run.
Sponsors include Utah Power & Light, Intermediate Health Care, and First Security Corp., with KUTV Television doubling as a sponsor and media host.
A recap of the two previous years:
In 1986, the inaugural Games were held on the Fourth of July weekend, with all agreeing afterward that the holiday schedule was bad timing. Some 750 athletes participated in 15 sports - all in one open division. A few sports were lacking in participants; for example, only 24 runners - including just three women - competed in the 10K run.
Last year, nearly 2,000 participants competed in 17 sports, with Games II moved to late June. However, officials still expressed concern over a general absence of Salt Lake area representation. Some growing pains continued to be felt - boxing was cancelled before competition even started and only two softball teams choosing the Cedar City contest over a conflicting tournament being played in Utah County.