Well, as much as I hate to say it, the summer is coming to a close. The calendar doesn’t lie; it is, in fact, August.

But with the summer ending, that means high school sports will soon be beginning. For me, that means I won’t see my family or friends until around Thanksgiving, but thankfully they understand.

For high school athletes that play fall sports, the season is closing in very rapidly, but for the first week of this month, they can’t have any contact with their coaches or use any high school facilities.

It’s referred to by the Oregon Schools Activities Association as “Moratorium Week,” a 7-day period in which no high school coach can have any contact with their players for any reason regarding athletics, and no high school facility can be used for any type of practice.

It was implemented in 2009 by the OSAA, and according to the OSAA handbook, will be active until 2013, which I’m sure it will be extended after that.

This year, Moratorium Week started July 31 and will end Aug. 6.

I think it’s a great idea on a couple different fronts. First of all, even if it’s just for a week, it allows for the athletes to relax if they want. They don’t have the pressures of performing in practice and trying to earn that starting job just yet, because when the first official practice date rolls around — August 22 — they’ll find out where they stand real quick.

However, in the type of world we’re in right now, relaxing during that time while your teammates are working hard might earn you a spot on the bench, but not because the coach thinks less of you, but because your teammates spent that week getting better and you have to play catch-up. It will also knock an athlete down a few pegs in terms of respect as well, unless you have a pretty good reason why you couldn’t make it.

The Moratorium Week rule states that no coaches, administrators, directors, advisors or students can use any high school facility for any athletic purpose. There is, of course, an appeals process, but for the sake of what I’m talking about I’m not going to go into that.

What it doesn’t say, however, is that players can’t organize activities off school grounds. That’s my main point. Team leaders, or athletes in position to be, can seize this moment and round up the crew for some running, agility drills, stretching and then sport-specific drills — using their own equipment of course.

For the athletes who want to do it, they can have at it. For those that don’t want to, don’t have to, but they will always have that thought in the back of their mind come official practices when their legs cramp up.

Peter Weber, an assistant executive director of the OSAA, said the policy was created with assistance from the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association. He said it was a way where the families of coaches and students would know, without doubt, that there would be a week during the summer where there would be no school commitments.

I totally agree with that and why the policy was put in place. Especially with coaches and their families, this week is golden. I’ve heard many coaches say their wives become “football widows” during the year because of the big time commitment it takes to coach a high school football team. And I’m sure the same goes for volleyball and cross country coaches.

If families of athletes want to take a late summer vacation, they can do it without fear of missing one of those “optional, but not optional” workouts and end up losing playing time because of it.

This rule was intended to take a little bit of burden off coaches and athletes, and rightfully so. Coaches especially will have plenty of time with their teams for the fall season.

But on the other hand, kids are going to be kids. If the family has already taken a vacation and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, athletes are just going to sit there. They know if they don’t improve, at least a little bit everyday, then their opponent has that much more of an edge on them.

If you don’t believe that, then try it. I tried going into high school football cold my freshman year. I went to one football camp in July and that was it. No other conditioning or anything. That was brutal.

A little bit of pain and some commitment can go a long way during these “Dog Days of Summer” we’re in.

Billy would love to hear from you. Write to him at bgates@hermistonherald.com

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