Edson: 6 Sports Lessons I’ve Learned This Summer

Who says an old sports columnist can’t learn something new?

I’ve kept my eyes and ears open this summer and learned at least half a dozen new things about the world of sports.

I’ll share what I’ve learned.

1) I’ll admit I’m a slow learner when it comes to the game of golf, but 53 years is a long time to go before the light goes on in your brain. Here’s what I mean. I started golfing one summer at the age of 12 at the Charlevoix Municipal Golf Course. That’s the unique nine-hole course where you cross over U.S. 31 twice during your round. I’ve always been a bogey golfer.

But this summer I learned something new and I reinforced that lesson this past week at the Beaver Island Golf Course, where our family vacations for a week every July. In my younger years, I was always coming up short on my approach shots. I think I was afraid of overshooting the green. Now, I take an extra club on every approach shot and I’ve cut 4-5 shots off my game. It’s been a revelation. However, my putting still stinks.

2) High school athletes today face so many challenges. Besides practicing and playing in games, today’s young athletes have to deal with the instant feedback of social media – some of it pretty raw. And with summer camps and self-imposed pressure to be a star, it’s a wonder that most school sports programs don’t employ a counselor.

3) I can’t enjoy Detroit Tigers games on TV that Kirk Gibson is working. Sorry, I know he was a Tigers star and I covered him many times over the years. But I just can’t deal with the excuses for bad play, the long-winded explanations of nothing and the way he gets defensive when one of his colleagues teases him.

4) There is value to just about any piece of vintage sports memorabilia that is kept in good shape. I set up at my first baseball card show in Troy during the summer of 1972, just after I had graduated from high school. So I’ve been around the corner a few times. But I’m still amazed at the sports stuff people collect – like baseball card wrappers, old Traverse City Bays hockey items and 1950s and earlier baseball gloves.

5) The physical and mental refreshment of swimming in Lake Michigan. Nothing feels as refreshing to me as diving into Lake Michigan and staying in the water for 30-45 minutes. This is the perfect time of year to take those swims.

6) It’s never too early to start preparing for your fantasy football season. I’ve already purchased two fantasy football magazines and started combing over my possible draft picks. I have a little extra time to pour over the fantasy football players since my fantasy baseball team is in sixth place out of eight teams. I invited a couple family members to take part in the league – thinking I could beat them – but they are both contending for the championship.

So my No. 1 sports lesson I’ve learned (again) this summer is humility.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.