Today is Aug. 1.
That’s the most obvious signal to me that my play time is just about over.
Where does the summer go? I look so forward to June 1, which for me is the official wind-down starting date. I play my usual golf tournament schedule in June, then my game usually gets better in July, which leads me to complaining why couldn’t it have been better in June when it really mattered.
Basically for 10 months, I go at a maddening pace. When school is in session, I guffaw at those who bemoan the 40-hour work week. Me? The 40-hour barrier is reached by Thursday. Heck, I spend almost 40 hours a week just driving to basketball games from November to March.
For me, it’s Catch-22. I so much enjoy my down time, recharging my batteries that are below exhaustive levels. I play golf every day and take advantage of being in the great outdoors. I enjoy time with my friends and watching the Royals underachieve more often than not, while wondering when my beloved St. Louis Cardinals are finally going to make their move, which this summer may be never.
But about the middle of July, I start to get the itch. There are fewer and fewer local stories to cover. The local summer sports are ending and our athletes are eagerly anticipating the first day of fall sports practices.
Being an old newspaper man of more than 35 years, I look at what my former contemporaries do to fill their pages. And to be honest, local stories are at a minimum. It’s easy for those at The Kansas City Star to have plenty to write about because they have the Royals and Chiefs and for those soccer fans, Sporting Kansas City. The Wichita Eagle has the Wingnuts and the latest happenings at Wichita State. The Salina Journal and Hutchinson News have a few teams in the summer, but for the most part their news is national.
Here in our neck of the woods, there are just a few teams. Bethany College has filled a lot of our slots with signings of all their sports. McPherson College and Central Christian College generally shy away from signing stories, due to the fact they want the newcomers to physically be on campus before they say anything.
That’s why for two months I basically post five columns a week as well as produce the twice-daily “Sell on Sports” radio spot, generously sponsored by Freddy’s Frozen Custard. I try to touch on local topics as much as I can and opine on Kansas City’s sports teams since interest here is so great, as well as the state schools. Kansas’ success in basketball and unmitigated failures in football always provide fodder, while nobody around here ever tires of hearing about Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats. There isn't much right now on Wichita State, but what accomplishments the Shockers gave us during basketball season.
I also realize it’s time to get to work on the first of our four Mid Kansas Sports Magazines that we publish during the school year. The fall edition includes stories, schedules and Kendall Shaw’s amazing photos about McPherson High and the other high schools we cover — Canton-Galva, Elyria Christian, Hesston, Inman, Little River, Moundridge and Smoky Valley. Questionnaires already have gone out to coaches, though most of them don’t respond until it gets closer to the first day of practice. Some coaches — like the uber-efficient Moundridge football coach Courtney Moddelmog — make their own press kit and send it out early in the summer to avoid the crush of requests that generally occur about this time.
I look forward to putting together these magazines and the kids look forward to them, too. After all, that’s what they’re all about. If not for them, we’d have no magazine.
Another sign that fall sports is about upon us is that Wednesday is the annual KCAC Football Media Day. I have been attending this for more than 30 years and haven’t missed one. In the old days, we even used to have a golf tournament at one of Wichita’s courses, but in this day and age where everybody seems to be trying to get somewhere at breakneck speed, that’s gone the way of $2 gas.
Once school starts, the number of sports posts for our website doubles, sometimes triples. There’s so much to cover around here that I have less time to write columns. While I do miss that, I don’t miss the frenzied schedule of trying to keep up with local athletics. It’s hard to believe this is going to be year No. 36 to cover McPherson and area sports. Hopefully I’m still performing at a high level. I can’t stand the thought of letting the readers and listeners down.