I have been covering Mississippi Sports for 56 of my 69 years. After more than half a century, I still look to give Mississippians uniquely Mississippi sports stories – and historical perspective on those stories – they won’t find anywhere else.

A recent case in point was my piece on tiny Oak Hill Academy in West Point, specifically the school’s golf team, which is dominating its opposition like few, if any, high school teams have in Mississippi history. The Oak Hill Rangers recently won the state’s 3A private school championship by a whopping 83 shots in a one-day tournament. A former Mississippi high school golfer myself, my article tells you the story behind the story – how it has happened – and lends historical perspective to a uniquely Mississippi story.

In another recent column, I told a compelling story of a Laurel softball umpire who was physically attacked by a fan. But the column goes beyond that ugly night, telling how these incidents have become all too common in youth league and high school sports and have led directly to a shortage of high school umpires and officials in the state.

Rick Cleveland

There is much not to like about Mississippi but also much to love. Mainly, I love the people and how creative our people have always been – as writers, musicians, entertainers and athletes. I tell sports stories for a living and no state produces more compelling sports stories per capita than Mississippi.” 

Rick Cleveland, Sports Columnist

My goal at Mississippi Today is to show how and why sports are such an integral part of Mississippi society and to give our readers something on our website that they will not find in any other medium. 

I grew up playing and then covering Mississippi sports, and have seen first-hand the role sports have played in the integration of the state’s schools and society. I saw the role sports played in the changing of the Mississippi flag. Mississippians care passionately about their games and the people who play them. These are stories that need to be told.

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.