For some, it happens when they lock up the family cabin by the lake for the last time until next summer rolls around.
For others, it comes when it’s time to take the lights and ornaments off the Christmas tree, and pack them away until next year when the holidays come again.
It’s that feeling of wistfulness – not quite a full-on sadness – we feel when a fun time ends and we know that it will be a while before it returns.
For many, Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The weather is supposed to warm up, the days get longer, and school is close to being done with for the year.
But for me, Memorial Day brings with it that feeling of wistfulness, as another season of high school sports has concluded, and won’t be back until the first week of September when football season kicks off again.
I love High School sports. I get out and see between 65 and 75 contests a year (a ‘contest’ being defined, for these purposes, as an individual game or event).
Compared to their professional or collegiate counterparts, sure, the level of play is nowhere near as high.
Yet the passion and commitment shown by the players at the high school level take a back-seat to no one.
And while the HS ranks can have the occasional controversy (usually when the adults involved try to muck up the works), it for the most part maintains a degree of purity that is close to 99.44%.
Compare that to what we read every day about cheating scandals and money squabbles in both the college and pro ranks, and the HS brand of ball, regardless of the sport, comes up smelling like a rose.
At the HS level, it’s understood by coaches and players that representing one’s school is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege can be revoked should there be a dip in grades or other unacceptable behavior.
When players’ britches get a little too big for their own good, they are usually given the opportunity to watch the game from the sidelines until they fit better.
High school sports are an extension of the classroom, played out in public, where lessons are taught and learned every day.
Unlike the classroom, where the lessons are taught first, then the test taken; sports gives you the test first, with lessons to be learned from it afterwards.
And all the while, as these lessons are being taught and learned, we get to sit in the stands and watch the drama of athletic competition unfold before our eyes, watching our favorite sports being played by athletes, our neighbors, who throw their heart and soul into every minute of play.
The athletes are approachable after the games. Grade school kids, some with stars in their eyes, can meet the players, and lifelong friendships can be struck. Try doing that with your members of your local college or pro team.
High school sports is where we get to watch great people begin to take shape.
Yes, I will enjoy the warmth of the summer sun, and, hopefully, the heat of a pennant race for the next few months.
But until I get to see and hear a toe kick a football on a warm Friday night next September, things won’t be quite right with the world.
There’s no question about it.