I had a discussion the other day about teenagers, those who are returning to high school, and what they do in the summer.
Well, if they are an athlete, the summer means a lot about a lot.
It means, among other things, weightlifting, football and Legion baseball.
It also means 36 holes a day, long runs to be a better distance runner and a zillion laps in the pool.
The summer is when you make 750 shots and 150 free throws a day.
The saying is the summer is when individuals get better, while teams get better during the season.
If individuals do not get better during the summer, they are getting passed daily by others who are working and working hard.
If individuals do not get better during the summer, it's hard for the teams to get better during their respective seasons.
The status quo during the summer is never good.
If you plan to be the No. 1 receiver in the fall because the top two receivers graduated, coach is not going to hand you that spot just because you are returning to the team.
You see, if the Nos. 5 and 6 receivers from a year ago are working that much harder than you, your spot might be as the No. 3 receiver in two months.
If you think you should be the captain next year because you will be a senior and you feel it's your right to be the captain and you don't spend the summer going to open gym and you don't work on your strength and conditioning, it will be really hard for the coach to make you a captain when the coach has seen no leadership qualities in you over the summer.
At that point in time, parents, don't go complaining to the coach about why your child wasn't chosen as a captain.
The summer is when you get better as a hurdler, a jumper, a long-distance runner, a long snapper, a swimmer, a band member and a catcher.
The summer is when you become a better teammate.
If you want to rest on your laurels during the summer, there will be a nice place on the bench during the season for you to rest.
You and your parents can whine all you want when you start the season on the bench and without being named captain, but the coach did not make that decision, you did when you decided to do nothing over the summer.
And, even if you did something over the summer and only did so half-heartedly, that nice warm spot on the bench will still be there for you.
I've had a lot of talks with coaches of various sports over the summer and the talk always turns to kids and what they endure during the summer.
A three-sport athlete is no longer a three-sport athlete.
In addition to those in-season sports, during the summer, an athlete has weightlifting, open gym, passing scrimmages, travel ball or Legion baseball.
That's a full day, to say the least.
Athletes and parents can complain about it or welcome the daily challenge.
You see, since most of those same kids will not play sports in college, the daily grind of four years of high school sports and the summers will only make that athlete a better college student.
That athlete should be well- versed in time management come college, when a lab coat takes the place of a uniform, a microscope replaces a basketball, speech classes are not swim practice and that architecture/engineering project is a headache instead of hours of suicides and repeat 150s.
If you and your teammates are lifting at 7 a.m. and your opponents are not, you and your teammates are already better than your opponents.
If you want to play baseball in the spring and make an impact on the team, you play baseball during the summer and make an impact on the team.
If you want to stand atop the podium in Columbus or Charleston, you spend the summer getting better.
Some parents will say that their child is gone from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. with all this sports stuff.
And ... what's the problem here?
Anybody put in a 14-hour work day?
It is not 14 hours day-in and day-out, but a 14-hour day is really good for teenagers.
How many of those days will they have in college? More than they can count.
And, we're not even talking about a five-hour shift at the local convenience store or sporting goods store.
We're not talking about those six weekly mowing jobs.
Is it a tough summer for all involved? Yes.
But, in a few years, who those athletes have graduated and no longer competing in sports, and they come back home after their freshman year in college and sleep until 1 p.m. and lay around until 6 p.m. and then go out with their friends until 3 a.m., parents will yearn for those 6:30 a.m. alarm sounds and a full day of athletics.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike)