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The Playing Fields of Suburbia
American Magazine, by Joseph Epstein

Original Article

Posted By:eagleblurst, 2/12/2014 10:09:04 AM

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was headlined “Youth Participation Weakens in Basketball, Football, Baseball, and Soccer.” In solid journalistic fashion, the article went on to document the decrease in sales in sports equipment, the many new interests competing for the time and attention of the young, and the opinions of various experts in health and physical education. A girl from an athletic family gives her reason for abandoning the track team in her high school in Ohio — too time-consuming — and high-school athletic directors blame video games for the decreasing participation in sports.

      


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Reply 1 - Posted by: tomanderson61, 2/12/2014 10:32:45 AM     (No. 9729233)

I too, grew up in suburbia. We lived for the outdoors. If we weren´t riding our bikes, we were doing wiffle ball in the back yard (plastic ball and bat would limit how far the ball could go) with similar modified games such as two-base (when you only have 2 or 3 guys), or softball in the park, backyard football (never touch!) or driveway basketball. I was a thin child but did well in the freedom and camaraderie of neighborhood friends.

Then something changed right around junior high. Suddenly, sports where "important". Even the nonsense games we had in gym. Miss a goal or fumble the ball and that is all you heard about the rest of the day in classes. The boys who took on sports after school were way ahead of the rest of us. The inherent joy of physical activity quickly vanished, and the ultracompetitive, winning is everything, people yelling, anger and resentment attitudes killed just about any desire to participate.

The worst of the kids and parents grew up to be the jerks we see on the sidelines calling professional athletes--who are talented beyond these people´s wildest hopes--bums and worse. I call them the sports-insane.

And who wants to be near that? Maybe today´s kids figure that out early, and enjoy other options that we didn´t have as kids.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: Patchy Groundfog, 2/12/2014 10:35:51 AM     (No. 9729239)

One of those articles that states something we intuitively know but offers solid evidence of same.

Helicopter parents are a huge problem. Kids have uniforms that rival the pros. Every game, every shot, every box score is posted online as if it were the Olympic medal table. ´Kelsie got two goals´ etc.

We joke about everyone getting a trophy but the trophies are coveted by the parents, not the kids.

The REAL problem, unstated in the piece, is the infantilization of our society. Extending childhood well into what used to be adulthood is the clear aim of one political party and a host of ideological groups. It also ties into the self-made problems of so-called bullying, which now encompasses any shred of negative feedback. And, most tragically, some children raised in the self-esteem culture cannot face their shortcomings and seek revenge in violent ways.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: jt26, 2/12/2014 1:11:10 PM     (No. 9729513)

I grew up in the 60´s in the city of Hartford.
We played pickup baseball, tackle football, and basketball. The big kids chose sides.
You got better by playing with and getting your butt kicked by the bigger kids.
Zero parental involvement. My parents grew up in the depression and had enough trouble keeping a roof over our heads. And I had fun.
No uniforms, just playing.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: KingBubo, 2/12/2014 1:17:37 PM     (No. 9729524)

Watch Friday Night Tykes and that will explain a lot of it.

How many kids want to deal with the pressure of having the ability to crush some random adults´ dreams?

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Reply 5 - Posted by: Iraengneer, 2/12/2014 3:06:02 PM     (No. 9729716)

part of the key is that we used to PLAY. Organized sports never appealed to me. Shootin´ hoops is fun. So is pickup softball or whatever. But they are GAMES. Games. They are, can be, often are fun. And they need no further justification. Sadly, such things are often downright forbidden. Certainly not encouraged. When was the last time you saw a kid climb a tree? I used to do that all the time as a kid, but I guarantee that in many places, any attempt to do so would cause an uproar. We used to play with squirt guns. See that sort of just plain fun going on in your neighborhood? Not likely. Would have the militia called out, probably. When did the whole idea of "play dates" become popular? but it´s clear evidence of an idiot culture. What is so wrong with informality?

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