Summer sports doldrums are here, but won’t last forever

Published 11:39 am Thursday, June 16, 2011

In the days of wooden ships and iron men, there was a word that caused sailors to freeze in fear.

The doldrums.

Now known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, it is where the winds from the two hemispheres come together near the equator. The weather can range from dead calm to furious thunderstorms and the area acts as a conduit along which tropical cyclones in both the Atlantic and Pacific travel.

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No matter what extreme, heat was always a companion there.

The phrase often meant a becalmed sea with no wind that left mighty ships floating listless in a sea with little definition. Starvation and other privation would often result as ships ran low on food (bad) and water (worse). Sailing into this zone made time seem to slow down.

As far as sports is concerned, this time is the local sports doldrums. Prep sports season is over as some of the athletes enjoy a welcome summer break.

But it’s not a totally dead time. Summer ball teams give local baseball and basketball players a pressure-free venue to improve their skills against their peers. A lot of times, score isn’t even kept.

Travel teams allow more skilled softball and baseball players to not only improve, but showcase their ability for college coaches.

Football teams are lifting weights in preparation for the upcoming season. Mornings or afternoons, the clank of iron and the grunts of effort are signs that football season is getting closer. After getting a chance to hone basic skills such as blocking and tackling in the brief spring, players are working on building up their strength for the games to come. A coaching canard that games are not won in September and October, but rather July and August has never been truer.

For football, there are also the 7-on-7 tournaments that give quarterbacks and receivers a chance to build chemistry against secondaries without the worry of a pass rush. Vicksburg will host the River City Classic on June 25 and plenty of teams will hit the red-hot turf of Memorial Stadium for some high-scoring, high-tempo action.

But the slow times won’t go on forever. Like a distant mirage shimmering in the light, things will pick up quickly.

The start of the Governor’s Cup is just a few short weeks away. Youngsters and their families will fill local hotels and bake under a merciless sun while getting a chance to compete in one of the state’s largest youth baseball tournaments.

And then football season will appear on the horizon like a distant breeze, filling sails with a welcome gust and a propulsive lift.

And the cycle will creak along again.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at swilson@vicksburgpost.com.