There has been a lot of discussion recently about the role of play in the animal world, and the explanation, or lack thereof, for play.
One school of thought is that play really isn't play at all but an important aspect in social, physical and cognitive development and may also serve as training for the unexpected.
The theory is that there's a very serious side to play. Those thoughts came to mind Saturday as the Copper Country Volunteer Firefighters Association held its annual tournament in Houghton.
There was plenty of excitment and plenty of fun as the good natured competition pitted department against department.
Don't let the frivolity mask the serious subtext behind the games. Those games represent the hours and hours of training each and every member of all 35 local departments undergoes.
While the races unfolded in the sunshine of a beautiful Copper Country Saturday, the reality is the firefighters train for and have been called out in conditions that are far from what spectators enjoyed on Saturday. Right into the teeth of harrowing and potentially deadly situations
It is important to remember these men and women are volunteers. Not only are they not compensated for their efforts but often training and equipment expenses come out of their own pockets.
Congratulations are due to the Allouez Volunteer Fire Department for their fourth straight victory in the tournament. Congratulations also are due to Jim Balma of the South Range Fire Dept, the Firefighter of the Year and to the Quincy-Franklin-Hancock Township Department, which took the Department of the Year award.
But in our eyes not only are all the firefighters winners, they are heroes and richly deserving of our thanks.