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Always room for fun in practice

Last spring, Cubs manager Dale Sveum instituted an organization-wide bunting tournament that included players, coaches and executives. 

Even Theo Epstein stood in the box and did his best to drag one down the third-base line.

There was a novelty to the entire affair, so much so that it wasn't unusual to see or hear updates on television and radio reports. 

This spring, the tournament has returned, and so have the brief media reports. Alert: Starlin Castro advanced on Thursday despite a minor hamstring injury. 

It doesn't surprise me that the attention is still on the tournament. 

For one thing, it's spring training, and there are only so many new stories to write about practice. I mean, how many Matt Garza updates do we need? 

I think the bunting tournament has a bit of a charm that draws in reporters and fans. Don't we all like reminders of when sports were just for fun? 

I also think stuff like this should happen with high school teams. 

With baseball and softball seasons starting soon – games begin March 14 – wouldn't a  bunting tournament add fun to working on fundamentals? 

I bet a few Rock Falls Rockets would love to prove they can lay down bunts better than venerable coach Donnie Chappell. Add in an administrator or two, maybe a school board member, and it'd probably draw a few spectators.  

It wouldn't have to be restricted to baseball and softball. 

Could Sterling's Greg King win a shot put competition? Could Jon Empen get a ball past one of Dixon's goalkeepers on the soccer pitch? I've heard stories of how well coach Mahmoud Etemadi can bend his shots. That'd be something to see. 

And, how many basketball players would love to see their coaches standing at a free-throw line practicing what they preach in a team foul-shooting tournament?

Heck, I am thinking maybe I should institute a box score and roundup writing speed competition next August to get us ready for the  upcoming school year. 

I don't doubt that some of these things might already be happening in some shape or form in the area. I'd love to hear about it.

We hear a lot about how hard everyone works, and about how much players, parents and coaches sacrifice. It'd be nice to know that there's also still a little room for some fun. 

I mean, if the Cubs can take a few minutes a day for it when they haven't won a thing in a century, then I can't think of program in the area that couldn't afford to do the same. 

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