When it comes to sports, where did summer go?

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Remember when the term “fall sports” actually referred to those sports played in the autumn? It seems like we’re getting further and further away from that being an accurate description every year.

It’s still mid-July and the high school sports season is already upon us. Football teams in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, including Porter’s Chapel Academy and St. Aloysius, will officially begin preseason practice on Monday. Mississippi High School Activities Association members like Vicksburg and Warren Central have to wait until July 30, but all that really means is they enter a different phase of preparation and are allowed to do different things according to the rulebook. All of them have been working out several times a week since May and will gather for picture days and other housekeeping activities soon. The private schools will even play jamborees and scrimmages the first weekend in August.

The softball teams at PCA and St. Al, as well as St. Al’s girls’ soccer team, will also kick off their seasons next week. By the time fall officially begins on Sept. 21, they’ll all be ready to begin the playoffs.

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We do have a few remaining vestiges of summer, with a couple of Vicksburg Girls Softball Association teams heading off to Little League regionals and the Warren County Golf Championship all on the last weekend of July. Even so, when the calendar flips to Aug. 1 it’s essentially the start of a new sports year.

It’s not a new observation that youth and high school sports have become a year-round endeavor, but it’s still one of those things where you look up and wonder when and where exactly this happened?

Two generations ago, football season started in early September. Maybe some teams had an actual training camp that kicked up in August. By the early 2000s, there was a June practice period but teams still took a few weeks off in July to catch their breath. In 2018, that time off has been reduced to one state-mandated “dead week” that typically coincides with the July 4 holiday.

There are no longer offseasons, just seasons with no games.

As a sports writer, that’s fine. Summer used to be a time where we struggled to find content for the paper. As a coach and athlete, however, it means sports become more of a full-time job than a leisurely endeavor. If you don’t put in the work in the summer, you get left behind in the fall — or should that be you get left behind later in the summer?

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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