Coach: Memorial Day weekend may be best sports time of the year
There surely are many contenders, but one could easily argue that this coming weekend -- the unofficial welcome to summer -- might be the best time of year for our local sports fans.
There will be the traditional Memorial Day remembrances, including many tributes to those who have served so bravely while fighting for our country. Each of our local towns will have their own particular way of celebrating, with special traditions and hometown heroes honored with parades, speeches, celebrations and more.
No doubt, the flag waves with a little more bravado on this special weekend.
But Memorial Day weekend is also a time of celebration, relaxation and fun. This is especially true for the sports fans among us, who will have a cornucopia of possibilities.
As an example, how about this weekend featuring the Indy 500 for our auto racing fans, The French Open for our tennis fans, The Champions Cup Final (it's Liverpool vs. Real Madrid; come on -- get with it, folks!), and the drama and aura of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the hockey enthusiasts out there.
Never fear hoops fanatics, as basketball is not quite over. NBA fans, this weekend, can enjoy the playoffs as the finals get closer, while baseball purists are really soaking it up as the warm and sunshine kick in big time, indicating America's original pastime is just now hitting its stride.
Locally, you can take your pick between high school state baseball and softball tournament games, the track and field finals, and tennis, girls soccer, boys volleyball and lacrosse entering state tournament finals as well.
Even more local, and a bit younger in age, there will be youth soccer tournaments and youth baseball tournaments to watch, not to mention area golf courses and tennis and pickleball courts all packed and buzzing with activity.
We haven't even mentioned the backyard barbecues, family gatherings, neighborhood get-togethers and park picnics, where a little softball, volleyball, soccer, badminton or touch football might be played.
That's a lot of good pickings for your weekend sports plate! Truly something for everyone on this calendar's three-day respite.
A quick Memorial Day related thought on sporting events, and in particular the playing of our national anthem, or maybe God Bless America, prior to the start of each game.
It is, of course, a wonderful tradition. We play the song and stop to honor our great country before every professional event, and we do it for college and local high schools games as well. It serves as a few moments to take pause before the excitement and intensity of an athletic competition.
We stand, look toward the flag and, if we happen to be wearing a cap, take it off. Some will even put hand over heart as an expression of loyalty to country.
Hopefully, though, during these silent moments, as the patriotic song is being played, we do more than just stand at attention with our cap off.
Hopefully, we take that short time to really think about the freedoms that we are so blessed with, and about the young men and women from the past who lost their lives defending our country and those now out on the front lines bravely serving.
Brave, yes, but still human, and no doubt saddled with fear and worry and loneliness and homesickness. All sadly ensconced in the ultimate senselessness of wars.
Hopefully, we take some of that quiet time to think about how we, in our own lives, can actually make a difference. "The slightest bit, if good, is better than the best of intentions" has always been one of my favorite quotes.
I have heard baseball coaches say don't run to the base, but through it. I have heard track coaches teach runners to not run "to" the finish line, but to run "through it."
Maybe we can use that sports analogy and say, instead, during the playing of the national anthem, "Don't look to the flag, but look through it" -- for all it stands for and all it represents.
One more Memorial Day-related thought on the singing of our national anthem. I have been to so many high school games where a student from one of the schools or a local youth choral group sings the anthem.
More of this, please!
We have so many talented singers and performers in our schools. Some amazingly young, with a singing talent that defies their age level. What a great opportunity this is for them to perform in front of an appreciative crowd.
OK. I will now exit my high horse long enough to wish readers a great Memorial Day weekend.
Whether it is on the playing fields, the courts, the courses, the parks or the couch in front of your TV. It should be a phenomenal sports weekend.
• Jon Cohn of Glenview is a coach, retired PE teacher, sports official and prep sports fan. To contact him with comments or story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.