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Swelter sports


Standing alone in an empty, late-night grocery store parking lot, a man decides to play a few rounds of "shopping cart golf." The errand essentials--Gatorade, milk, Pop-Tarts, Motrin and sunscreen--safely tucked in the back seat, the man sizes up his putt, er, push.

It's a good 30 feet to the hole, er, cart-catching area. The terrain is uneven, a storm drain, another forsaken shopping cart and several plastic bags dancing like tumbleweeds.

What is he doing out here anyway? Shouldn't he be multi-tasking somewhere? Aren't they waiting for his return?

Calling the putt a par two, he pushes off low on the cart, aiming for the left plastic blue safety bumper. Providing hushed audio commentary, with a nod toward Caddyshack, the man twists his body as the cart clatters and careens home.

It's in the hole.

At a summer league swim meet on a sweltering, I mean sweltering evening, a mother waves her daughter toward the finish line, "Go, go, go!"

After another race, a father bends down to his 8-year-old son: "You did great. Did you see how it took five kids to beat you?"

In the final event of the long evening ("Have we had dinner yet??"), the eight coaches stand up on the blocks. This one's for bragging rights. The runners stop running, the timers stop timing. Even the ribbon writers take a break. There are no empty spaces at the pool's edge.

The little kids start the cheering first, screaming the names of their favorite lovable taskmaster coach. By the third leg of the Coaches Relay, the older kids have joined in, too. So have the parents. It's a goosebumps situation, an unforgettable summer moment.

This is the glory. The last 20 yards are delirious. Tsunami waves and giant smiles, as we howl our way together through the longest, hottest days of the year.

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