“End of summer …”
I hadn’t missed the displays of backpacks, pencils and notebooks that sprung onto the shelves at my local supercenter the day after the Fourth of July, but it was hard to believe that summer — for those whose schedules revolve around school calendars — was ending.
Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the start of football season. I just feel like summer should last another four weeks.
As a child, I was often disappointed when I couldn’t bring a birthday treat to my class because school ended before my birthday during the first week of June. I graduated from high school on my birthday. Classes resumed the day after Labor Day — giving us three full months of freedom.
We joined baseball teams, rode bikes, went swimming and played pick-up basketball and football games. Every sunny day was spent outside doing something.
Now, it feels as though when one school year is finished, the next is about to begin.
I recognize that some of it is the hazard of my profession. My spring season lasts a bit longer than it does for other people as there are a host of all-county teams to decide, and athletes of the year to recognize. However, before that is even done, planning must begin for the upcoming football season.
Many high school athletes are going through the same thing. Whether it’s baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball or lacrosse, there are travel teams that occupy the days and hours for teens when they aren’t in class.
Swimming, golf and tennis have become year-round individual sports, with the competitions away from high school often more important than what an athlete does for their high school team.
In many ways, the summer has become an extension of preseason football with weight-training, 7-on-7 passing tournaments and team camps filling the days leading up to when teams are officially allowed to practice.
I recently conducted a series of interviews with track and field athletes between the ages of 8 and 12. None of them are old enough to have attended a day of high school, but all of them have trained throughout the summer in order to excel at their sport.
The season, which began with training in February and gave way to competitions in March, saw regular competitions end in May with school. After that came a state competition and a regional one, and now they are gearing up for a national meet. By the time they return from competing at the Junior Olympics in Houston at the end of the month, there will be just a week of summer vacation left to enjoy.
With the cost of college education continually on the rise, I understand the importance given to excelling at a sport in an effort to obtain a scholarship. I also know, for some of the athletes, there’s nothing they would rather do than play their favorite sport. I’m not criticizing the athletes that are trying to excel in the system that has been established.
Yet, as I try to hold onto the last few days of summer by taking a family trip to the beach, I can’t help but miss the long summers of my youth.
And think of football.
Emily Horos is sports editor of the Cherokee Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.