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Column: The shrinking days of summer

Column: The shrinking days of summer


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


The stories of a shrinking summer continue to fall on my ears.

It is not from one specific school and it is not about any one specific program.

It is coming from all over Portage County.

And before I go any further, this column is not intended to be a push against coaches or their programs.

I have far too much respect for the amount of time and energy all of the coaches put toward their programs and athletes.

It is also not intended to say student-athletes should not work — or be asked to work — in the off-season as part of their individual and team growth and improvement.

Summers have forever included camps, conditioning, open gyms, lifting and more.

It simply seems that there is a crescendo building of unspoken — and sometimes spoken — pressures that continue to mount for student-athletes and how they spend their summer days.

Workouts that are listed and communicated as voluntary, but suddenly create a cloud of guilt when missed.

Family time, vacations, employment and more become viewed as problems when they create schedule conflicts with a sport’s summer calendar.

Sports competing against each other for attendance and supremacy, with softball, soccer, wrestling, football, basketball, volleyball, and probably more, all pushing for time with their student-athletes.

Especially the multi-sport athletes, who would absolutely love to attend everything, but are frequently forced into choosing one sport over another.

Not necessarily because they want it to appear that they like one sport more than another, but simply because there are not enough hours in the day to get to everything and make everyone happy.

The vast majority of athletes are committed to their team. They are dedicated in their approach for personal improvement and how that impacts their peers and the overall development of the team. Ultimately, they want to contribute, grown and learn within a program that is fortunate enough to celebrate success.

And they know that the off-season work is a step that cannot be overlooked, forgotten or disrespected to accomplish all of those things.

In fact, it is the introduction to accountability that is part of what makes high-school sports so special.

So, this column is not to say that off-season workouts are not healthy and that they should be abandoned.

They absolutely are healthy and important.

But within the right context.

A family or athlete should never feel guilty about taking a summer vacation.

Or if their random night of the week in June included one sport instead of another.

There will be enough pressure throughout the course of a season that there is no need to add more.

Athletically, there will be pressure to win critical games.

Academically, there will be pressure to ace the next test.

Socially, there will be pressure to maintain peaceful friendships and make the next right choice.

For right now, summer can still be summer.

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