Make Sparta and White County better than ever

Think for Yourself


 I was all set to use this article to address Troy Smith’s article from last week. I could put the record straight about some misleading and, as of yet, unproven accusations about Donald Trump and others. Still, I would preach to the choir for most of you, and the rest would never even consider my argument. Instead, I want to use my space this week to discuss something closer to home.

I have spent many nights when the Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot was high, dreaming about what I would do with that money. Something that has stayed on my list has been a sports complex that would host tournaments and draw visitors to White County from all over the region. I have also dreamt of a concert hall/convention center that could host events and bring tourists to our community. These facilities could draw visitors and businesses to our county but also benefit our citizens when not utilized for events.

I have mentioned this idea before, so some may already be tuning me out. I guess some people want to maintain Sparta’s “quaint charm.” Don’t get me wrong. I love Sparta and White County. I have traveled the world and seen wonders and horrors that few people will ever experience. White County is my home because I chose it. I didn’t get stuck here or settle for what was familiar. I also recognize that my home isn’t perfect.

I want White County and Sparta to keep the small-town feel and country charm that we all love, but I want to take advantage of the opportunities we have around us. White County is centrally located in the state. Within 150 miles of Sparta are tens of thousands of pickleball players and tennis players. There are hundreds of travel basketball and volleyball teams. There are no dedicated indoor pickleball courts anywhere near us. Chattanooga recently had 620 players compete during the Senior Pickleball Olympics.

When neighboring schools came to play the White County High School tennis team, one of the first things they asked was where is a good place to eat in Sparta. Imagine hundreds of families, friends, and players at pickleball, tennis, basketball, or volleyball tournaments asking that same question every few weeks. I attend government meetings and hear our city and county leaders express how much they want to see our community grow and thrive. Events like these are how we can bring the business and revenue to make it happen.

I would love to see more manufacturing jobs come to White County, but you often have to give too much to get too little to bring those jobs here. We have scenic beauty, hiking, fishing, boating, and hunting, but that isn’t enough. People love tournaments that offer other attractions during downtime. Imagine how many families might visit a drive-in movie or one of the many state parks around us while at a tournament in White County. People will love White County and Sparta, but we must give them a reason to come here.

Sparta has some fantastic young athletes who travel and play in tournaments everywhere but here. Thousands of pickleball players within 70 miles of Sparta travel to other states to compete in tournaments. Imagine the events that Sparta and White County could host. I will never win the lottery. I usually don’t even buy a ticket. The county and city could develop facilities to host these types of events. With planning and a commitment to seeing this community grow and prosper, it is possible.

I am not saying that our leaders don’t want to or are unable to, but they aren’t doing this. Perhaps instead of arguing about what some foul-mouthed orange billionaire or some cognitively challenged geriatric did or didn’t do in Washington, we should focus on what is happening right here at home. That’s what I think, but think for yourself. 


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