I get to do a lot of really cool things in my job.
As a sportswriter completing my first year in Mason City, I’ve gotten a chance to cover some of the biggest moments for our area teams in all four high school sports seasons now.
But spring sports just stick out to me.
Walking a golf course, running around a sports complex during a track meet, observing tennis and watching soccer provides such a different feel than summer, fall or winter sports.
I truly believe that spring sports are the perfect change of pace for Iowa athletes.
Don’t get me wrong, football is, and always will be, my favorite sport to cover. And the summer and winter sports seasons each have their own benefits. But settle in for a track meet, for example, and you’ll undoubtedly see things happen outside of competition that just don’t happen in other sports.
Football, basketball, volleyball, wrestling, baseball and softball are fast-paced sports where emotions run high and competition between teams run fierce. In those sports, Iowa athletes are trying to physically beat athletes on the other team.
Sometimes, there’s no love lost, especially in rivalry games.
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But in three of the four spring sports, athletes are oftentimes trying to beat themselves and their personal-best times and scores. Despite trying to win a race or medal, each athlete has their own individual goals in tennis, golf or track.
Those three sports, especially golf and track, are social sports – meaning because you’re trying to beat your previous personal best, rivalries between schools are less prevalent. Many times, athletes who compete against each other actually develop a friendship.
I’ve got to see it on both sides now – as an athlete, and as someone reporting from the stands.
When I was in high school at Prairie City-Monroe, I threw shot put for our track team and played offensive line for our football team. During the fall, we had a bit of a rivalry between the now-split-apart Collins-Maxwell-Baxter school district.
Man, we wanted to beat them so bad.
But during the spring season, our throwers and their throwers actually became really good friends. The same guys we despised during football season were the guys we loved talking to during the spring.
Fast forward to now.
I traveled to the North Central Conference boys track meet last week to cover Clear Lake and Hampton-Dumont-CAL. I watched on as almost every race, competitors would give each other fist-bumps and encouragement before and after the event.
It’s the same way on the golf course. Walk to any hole on the course during a meet and you’ll see golfers in the same group walking with each other, talking and laughing.
You just don’t see that after a big home run during the summer.
Of course there’s always room for rivalry games, trash-talking and tough competition in sports. For three seasons out of the year, athletes get that opportunity.
But a similar argument can be made that sports are just as much about personal growth and sportsmanship. Sports in the spring just showcase that side of competition a bit more.
That’s why it’s the perfect change-of-pace.
Gunnar Davis covers sports. Reach him via email at Gunnar.Davis@GlobeGazette.com or by phone 641-421-0598.