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SMITH COLUMN: Holiday season provides extra for sports fans

November 25, 2010

It's the day after Thanksgiving and the holiday season is in full swing.
This is the time of year everyone enjoys all of the food, fun and fellowship. There's going to be various parties taking place from now until Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
For sports fans, there's a little extra flavor added to the mix that provides a little more anticipation.
Of course, not everyone likes or enjoys sporting events. The fact that you are reading this and not out taking advantage of the first shopping day after Thanksgiving (a.k.a. Black Friday), means you care about finding out who won Thursday's games just a little bit. Someone on television referred today's shopping craziness as a sporting event, but it didn't make me want to be among those at Wal-Mart at 12:01 this morning.
There are plenty of athletic events locally and nationally that can satisfy the appetite of any fan.
College football season comes to a close in the next couple of months, but not without quite a bit of interest and intrigue.
First, it's the rivalry games of this weekend where teams are fighting for bragging rights.
Get a load of this lineup. Today is the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, Ala., between Alabama and Auburn at 1:30 p.m., then on Saturday, there's Kentucky at Tennessee at 11:21 a.m., LSU at Arkansas and Florida at Florida State at 2:30 p.m., Mississippi State at Ole Miss and South Carolina at Clemson at 6 p.m., and Georgia Tech at Georgia at 6:45 p.m. That's just in the Southeastern Conference. You can also throw in Wake Forest at Vanderbilt for good measure, but they aren't considered rivals.
After all of that is completed, conference championship games take center stage. Auburn and South Carolina will play for all of the marbles in the SEC. This will be the first time the Gamecocks have been involved in the league's title game.
The final act for college football will be the bowls and it's always nice for any program that gets invited to the postseason because of exposure, extra practice time and just the overall experience it provides.
One of the programs that gets to go bowling after an absence of two years is the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Exactly which bowl will invite the Bulldogs has yet to be determined.
Many believe if MSU can beat Ole Miss on Saturday in the Battle for the Golden Egg, the door will be open for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If the Bulldogs lose to the Rebels, the Birmingham, Liberty or Music City Bowls are the likely destinations.
Some of the bowls will start filling spots next week, but it won't all come together until the conference championship games are played and the Bowl Championship Series makes its selections.
Once the process of inviting and accepting are over, it's fun to let the bowls play out and see which conferences have the best records.
There's more to the sports schedule than just football.
High School basketball tournaments can be found everywhere and college hoops teams plan trips around the holidays. The MSU men are scheduled to be in Hawaii during Christmas.
West Lowndes High School is hosting their Thanksgiving Tournament this weekend and have invited East Oktibbeha and West Oktibbeha to be a part of that. East
Webster is also holding an event soon.
Whether or not you make sports a part of your holiday, the main thing is remember that Jesus is the reason for the CHRIST-mas season. It's important to
share that message with family and friends. That's what really matters and should cause us to be thankful all year long.
Sports is just an added bonus.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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