Spring sports might be the most underrated part of the high school sports calendar.
The seasons are short. They’re over almost before you know it. Seven or eight weeks and here comes the end of the season for most teams and graduation for many of the athletes.
Most of the games, meets and matches take place in front of small crowds made up mostly of parents, family members and friends.
The name spring sports often seems like it would fail a truth in labeling inspection as you shiver through temperatures in the 40s at a baseball game or track meet even deep into the month of May. And schedules are constantly being changed and rearranged by the weather.
This being Ohio, the behemoth that is high school football dominates the high school sports scene in the fall.
If you’re good enough to play for a state championship, football season lasts 3 ½ months, plus another month of preseason conditioning, practice and scrimmages.
In the winter, the most popular sports, boys and girls basketball, also have seasons that stretch over several months, as do other prominent sports like volleyball and soccer in the fall and wrestling in the winter.
With spring sports, blink and you might miss it.
Those short seasons are followed by state tournaments which don’t get the attention of the fall and winter sports but deliver their own high level of excitement.
If you have a chance to watch a state baseball tournament, a state softball tournament, a state track meet or a state tennis tournament sometime, do it.
I don’t mean to slight lacrosse, but I have not seen a tournament game in that sport yet, so I can’t give you a verdict on it.
Part of the overlooked charm of the spring sports state tournaments is that the Ohio High School Athletic Association has found interesting venues for those events — Huntington Park for the state baseball tournament, Firestone Stadium in Akron for the state softball tournament, Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Stadium for the state track meet and the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason for the state tennis tournament.
Huntington Park in Columbus is one of the finest minor league baseball stadiums you will find anywhere.
It’s such a gem that I was willing to overlook the fact the lot where I parked for three days at this year’s tournament kind of reminded me of the Columbus city impound lot, which is not somewhere you want to go.
With the high school baseball season expanding by a week next year, there has been talk that the 2019 tournament might not be at Huntington Park because of a scheduling conflict with the Columbus Clippers’ schedule.
Hopefully, that can be resolved and the tournament will be able to stay where it is.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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