Tomorrow marks the first day of fall sports practices and to me, this is one of the most exciting times of the year.
Every summer I can't wait until football practices start up. I don't think any high school sport beats the atmosphere and the excitement of "Football Friday."
Every team goes into the new season with high hopes -- until that first game is played, everybody has the same record.
All high schools go through up and down cycles of good talent and Sikeston appears to be on the upswing.
While that is great news for Sikeston fans, the tough part is convincing some of them to play football, many of which have never played before.
I don't know what kind of numbers and what kind of talent Sikeston's varsity team will dress this season, but they've at least got some talent in the school to choose from.
The only question, will that talent play football?
All I've heard the last few years is how down the talent pool is in Sikeston. And I can't say I disagreed.
But from what I've seen this summer, there is enough talent in the school to win in every sport.
I know there are athletes in the school that could run track and field and probably give the team enough depth to possibly win a state championship, which is not that far-fetched considering the Bulldog track program is among the top 10 in the state every year.
Unless it conflicts with another spring sport, I think all high school athletes should compete in track and field. It's not only fun, but it can change a good athlete into a great athlete, and that of course, can only help them in other sports.
The football team has had back-to-back losing seasons and I know there are some athletes that haven't played before that could be enough to turn the program around.
And it seems that whenever the football team has a successful season, the rest of Sikeston's sports follow suit.
But like every year, I'm sure many of these kids won't play football. I've been to several basketball camps and open gyms this summer and it's amazing how many kids attend these sessions, but so few play football -- especially when football would probably be their best chance at getting a college scholarship.
I am baffled when I see a kid with a football body, but they won't give football a try. I'll see a kid that is 6-foot and built like a tank, but they often think that their future is in basketball.
Unless he is an unbelievable basketball talent, it seems obvious to me that football would be the kid's best bet.
Granted it's not all about securing college scholarships, but also gaining the discipline, competitiveness and responsibility to a team, and perhaps more importantly, learning how to win.
If you win in sports, there's a good chance you'll win in life.
Kids give many reasons for not playing. From saying they don't want to get injured to saying it's too hot -- both or which are ludicrous. You're just as likely to roll an ankle in basketball or pull a hamstring in baseball as you are to getting injured playing football, in which the body is entirely protected with padding. And if you think it's too hot, then maybe competitive sports isn't your bag anyway.
One of my least favorite reasons is the dreaded word, "specialize." These are the kids that choose to put all their energy and effort into one sport with the thought that they could secure a college scholarship in said sport. This couldn't be any further from the truth.
You look at all the top athletes in college or the pros, and almost every time they were standouts in other sports in high school. The top NFL players were all-state basketball and tracksters. The top baseball players were the quarterback and point guard in high school, for example.
It saddens me to see high school kids concentrate or specialize on a particular sport, because I know that participating in multiple sports can only make them a better athlete.
You go down the list of Sikeston's top athletes and almost all of them played at least two sports and sometimes three.
I'll admit, there are some very rare exceptions, but those are so few and far between.
I've written on this subject in the past, but I see the same disturbing trend year after year.
Three-sport athletes are a dying breed -- and I still haven't heard a legitimate reason of how this can be a good thing.
One can only hope that it will change this year.