The sizzle of summer sports continues in August

It seems the Advertiser-Tribune was JUST reporting on two extraordinary collegiate baseball teams including Tiffin University’s Cinderella comeback story and Heidelberg University’s incredible post-season run. After a 2-17 start, the D2 Dragons surprised everyone in winning the Great Midwest Athletic Conference championship and advancing through two rounds of super regionals. The Princes, on the other hand, led the nation in hits and ended their storied season with 45 wins, a super-regional title, and their second trip to the D3 world series.

Fast forward a few months to August and there are plenty of sport stories emerging on the local, national, and international scene. Most local stories center on the start of another football season with the junior high and high school programs making their way out of the weight rooms and onto the playing fields (along with volleyball, golf, cross country, soccer, etc.). Hopefully the attention on heat-related illnesses is more than water cooler conversation for coaches and trainers of all sport programs practicing and competing in August. Incidentally, it’s almost surreal to imagine that the Cross Country Carnival which has made Tiffin relatively famous in the runner’s world is only a few weeks away!

College football programs in Tiffin and around the country are also starting their annual preseason regime before settling into routines that will accompany academic class schedules. The Dragons and Student Princes are chomping at the bit to get started and all bets are on TU’s Coach Reisert to continue the winning ways of Coach Goff who is busy prepping his new team down in Valdosta, Georgia. A few short hours away, there is little doubt that the Ohio State Buckeyes are lavishing their new $6.3 million players’ lounge at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

On the national scene, the NFL is busy sorting out potential roster spots complicated by training camp holdouts such as Eziekiel Elliot and the veterans such as Julio Jones and Tom Brady who (for a variety of reasons) “sit out” early practices and exhibition games. The NFL is such a business.

The end of August is also the start of the United States Tennis Open at the Billie Jean King Center in New York on the heels of the sports’ biggest names (e.g.Venus, Rafael, Federer, Djokovic) competing closer to home in the Western & Southern Open down near Cincinnati over the next few weeks. Too bad Serena pulled out of the Ohio tournament with back issues.

MLB’s pennant races and potential wild-card slots are always in the national headlines in August and September (hope the Indians remain HOT!), but of special interest this month is the announcement that the Philadelphia Phillies mascot is unhappy. Seems the big bird is crying “free agency” next season unless its MLB team renegotiates the terms of a contract to outright secure the mascot’s rights. The Phillies initially paid a firm $3,900 in 1978 to develop the mascot and in 1984, a $215,000 payment was made to purchase all rights to the artistic “sculpture” known as Phillie Phanatic. However, the original design firm is seeking to terminate the 1984 agreement which has prompted the Phillies to file a federal lawsuit to prevent the threat of the mascot walk-out. Seems free agency isn’t just for athletes any more!

Elsewhere around the country in the summer heat, community pools have made a small media splash. For one, quarts of oil were released in a pool in California prompting a massive clean-up by the city’s fire department while in Michigan, security footage helped nab a serial pool pooper. While the USA experienced relatively minor pool-related incidents this month, disaster struck over in China when a malfunction in the wave pool at Shuiyun Water Park caused a Tsunami that injured 44 people including many with broken ribs.

Speaking of international sports, the PanAm Games have just wrapped up and numerous world championships as well as continental multi-sport festivals are taking place with Olympic qualification berths up for grabs. A 13-year-old from the Ukraine was impressive enough last week at the European diving Championships to punch his ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Incidentally, the application is open (until September 15) for anyone wishing to participate in the Academic Experience with Olympians at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan next summer. The travel contingency will include two-time Olympians Dr. Francis Dove Edwin (1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona) and Jan Boutmy (1964 Tokyo and 1968 Mexico City). For more information, access the website at https://2020tiffintokyo.weebly.com/

Stay tuned next month for more interesting sport stories from around the globe, around the country, around the state, and right here in Tiffin.

Bonnie Tiell is a professor of sports management at Tiffin University.