By BOB PARASILITI
7:16 PM AKDT, September 2, 2012
It seemed like only yesterday we lit that flame.
And now, as August ends, it’s going out.
When the fire is going, the world seems like a whole different place.
People like each other, celebrating life.
There are competitions.
Folks from all walks of life come together as one.
And it usually ends with one big party with a lot of old music rocking.
No, this isn’t about the Summer Olympics. That happens once every four years.
This is all about summer, period.
Today is Labor Day. It’s supposed to be a holiday saluting our working class with speeches and parades.
In reality, it’s a federally supported day off work … well, at least for most of us.
But even more realistic, it is the end of summer.
The flame that’s going out isn’t the Olympic torch. It’s the one in our backyard barbecues.
The carefree days are over. It’s time to get serious.
For one, the fashion police are out to make sure you’re not wearing white anymore.
But the end of summer brings a more serious tone in sports, too.
Think about it.
Baseball teams are in the last month of the season with the playoffs looming.
After spending the first 135 games jockeying for position, this year’s contenders have stepped forward.
And that is something this area hasn’t felt in a long time.
The Baltimore Orioles are trying to reach their first playoffs in 15 years and their first World Series in nearly three decades.
The Washington Nationals are on top of the National League for the first time since they got their visa from Canada.
And here, the Hagerstown Suns are in the South Atlantic League playoffs, starting Wednesday. The Suns have been very consistent, using a host of pitching and a batting order built on aggressive base running and timely hitting with great efficiency.
It has put Hagerstown in the postseason for the first time in seven years with a chance to win a its first-ever South Atlantic League title.
Labor Day is also the official kickoff of football.
The NFL starts this week with the usual excitement and verbal sparring from fans of the Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers — as well as a host of misguided and misplaced Dallas fans out there, too.
College football kicked off this weekend in true Labor Day fashion. West Virginia made quick work of Marshall, while Maryland and Penn State proved they still have a lot of work left to do.
The Maryland high school season kicked off in this holiday weekend as fall got its unofficial start.
Five of seven county football teams recorded opening victories — with one team still waiting to open its season tonight — while boys and girls soccer teams fought for early season supremacy in the Washington County Tournament.
It’s not unusual to see a pack of schoolboys on a training run in the early afternoon preparing for a cross country meet.
Youth leagues put away the bats and balls and broke out helmets and shoulder pads along with goals and soccer balls.
In summer, it all seems like a pastime. After Labor Day, it all feels like a job.
In sports, Labor Day is almost a fitting holiday because it takes a lot of work for all these teams to get to where they are or to get to the point to get started.
And every one of them grabs fans’ interests.
Your hot dogs may be coming out of a concession stand instead of off the grill now, but one thing is for certain.
All these days of labor come together on Labor Day.
And that serious competition keeps the fires burning long after the torch and barbecue are put away.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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