Cedar City did itself proud again.
Summer Games III, despite uncooperative weather that postponed a gala opening ceremony, was the biggest and best games yet.There were some glitches - the regional competition was held too early and the open-masters track and field competition was rescheduled just two weeks before the games - but overall it was a gold medal effort.
Scott Taylor, the sports writer who covered the Games for the Deseret News, had these impressions:
"I was impressed how the rained-out opening ceremonies was switched to closing ceremonies. Everyone remained optimistic and quite cheerful. They had a full stadium with all their invited guests back. It could have been a disaster but worked out well."
Another strong point was the volunteer spirit and attitude of those who administer the games, starting with Executive Director Rich Wilson. "I kept hearing him use the same phrases over and over to the media and others - `We're sensitive to that' and `how are we doing?' That shows concern for future growth and resolving current problems."
A weakness Taylor noticed was the caliber of competition compared to the caliber of officiating in some
events. "The competition is getting collegiate-type, near professional quality in some sports, particularly basketball and volleyball. They need the same quality in officiating, which is hard to do with volunteers or people picked out to help fill in."
Also, perhaps because of the number of participants (ver 3,000) the medal ceremonies were switched from the Centrum early in the week to the sites of the competition because it was taking too long to do them in the Centrum.
Hand it to Games administrators for not being afraid to try something new - like this year's regional competition. Because of the regional competition, participation more than doubled over last year and it was truly a Utah games as opposed to a Southern Utah games. The Salt Lake Region, which the first two years had few competitors, had the most medals this time.
Games officials are not afraid to admit mistakes. Because they're not trying to protect fragile egos, they're able to correct problems from a previous year - like scheduling, medal ceremonies etc. - and go forward.
Wilson is already making plans to make Summer Games IV the best yet. He's talking of adding more sports to regional competition, making the regional competition later so that it's closer to the Summer Games, and creating new divisions - such as a sub-masters category - to enhance the competition.
The goal of the Games has been to give as many people as possible a meaningful athletic experience. It's a goal Wilson and his colleagues have been obtaining.