Tell me something…Weather you have kids, or know somebody who has kids, or you are a kid yourself, have you heard parents say “you need to get outside and play more” or, “when I was a kid you couldn’t get me inside the house”. Today’s generation of kids are so engulfed in technology with cell phones, tablets and video games that they find all of their entertainment right on their couch.
According to an article written by Jane Wakefield on bbc.com she says that children spend an average of 6.5 HOURS in front of a screen. Teenage boys average as much as 8 hours a day. That includes school, and home time. Computers are more prominent than ever in the workforce and at home. Technology is everywhere, including the professional sports.
You can’t watch an NFL game without them showing the quarterback on the sideline looking at game film using a tablet, or if you can always find Johnny Manziel on YouTube bashing one on his head after throwing an interception.
Kids today are getting fat as a result of a lack of activity. According to the Mayo Clinic there are as much as 3 MILLION cases of childhood obesity each year. 3 MILLION. let that sink in for a moment. On top of becoming unhealthy and inactive, kids are becoming anti social. According to healthline.com the last known study suggest that between 4-6 MILLION kids show signs of anti social behavior. That number is expected to keep growing.
After throwing a bunch of stats and research in your face telling you why kids these days suck at being kids, I’m going to give you my complete unscientific, biased opinion on a good way to help kids enjoy being kids based off what I fondly remember from my childhood.
Step 1-99: Play Sports
Seriously, even kids that didn’t continue to play sports throughout their childhood have stories to tell you about little league. You don’t have stories unless its something you fondly remember (not all stories are good, but nevertheless they are still stories that they remember)
One of my all-time favorite stories is from when i was about 17 playing summer league baseball. It all started on a Tuesday, I was down the road fishing in our neighbors pond when my coach called me;
“Wisey (my old nickname) what are ya doing on Thursday”
“uhm, nothing, why?”
“wanna play baseball?”
“okay, we got a game Thursday against Ontario, you know anyone else that wants to play?”
“what? a game? uhhh, yeah i got a buddy that will play”
“ok bring him along, see ya Thursday”
and that is the conversation that started the best summer of baseball that has ever happened. Me and my buddy Rose (his nickname) showed up to every game wearing slippers and do rags, not to even mention his Red trucker hat, said something about partying (needless to say coach didn’t let him wear it).
We didn’t have matching uniforms, we didn’t have a single practice, we didn’t even know who was on our team until we all showed up on that Thursday to play Ontario….we left that game 22-1 winners having not thrown a baseball since the previous summer.
Throughout the course of the season there are so many stories I could tell you, weather is Matt Squires chasing deer with a baseball bat behind the Right Field fence all while he’s supposed to be standing in the on-deck circle. Or there is the numerous jokes that happened in the dug-out that we still laugh about 8 years later. And then there is one of the greatest predictions I’ve ever made…
We made it to the Championship that summer, remember we are just a thrown together team that never once practiced together all summer long, and we again found ourselves facing Ontario this time in the Championship. Just like the first game of the season, it wasn’t much of a game, we were destroying them, so much so that in the 5th inning we were two runs away from a run-rule victory. Our stud pitcher Mike Koheiser was on deck and as he’s walking out I jokingly tell him
“hey Mike, just hit it over the wall, and end this will ya?” he laughs and responds
“yeah, okay” because throughout the entire season, as dominate as we were, never once has anyone hit an over the fence Home Run…
Until Mike did, to win the freaking Championship.
I cant even keep a smile off my face as i type this. Every time I see him to this day, I still call him walk-off, all because of his Championship winning walk-off homerun from 8 summers ago.
My point to telling you this story is that there is so much that you get out of sports as a kid. You build friendships that will last you a life time. You build memories that you cherish forever. Sports was the most rewarding parts of my childhood.
I remember going into my cement walled basement throwing a tennis ball against it as hard as I can practicing getting the ball out of my glove as quickly as i can, the whole time I was pretending to be my favorite player Omar Vizquel. Me and my brother Aric would get decked out in all the Cleveland Indians gear we could find and go outside to play catch.
One of the most satisfying parts of it all is hearing my dad tell stories of my games, of the things he remembers. The satisfaction of knowing I made him proud and created that memory for him is almost overwhelming.
Playing sports can form you as a person, it can develop work ethic, it causes you to become a goal oriented person…because you WANT to, not out of necessity but out of desire. You create friends, become social, you become active and spend time outside playing instead of sitting inside in front of a screen.
Last but not least, sports are meant to be FUN, if you didn’t get that from my story about our championship baseball team, the amount of fun we had can’t truly be measured. If you don’t enjoy playing sports, and don’t enjoy the competition, then all of this article may be irrelevant to you, because if you can’t enjoy yourself then you will not be getting the full benefit of everything that it offers along with the joy of playing the game.
There are a hundred million other reasons why playing sports can be beneficial for you or your child, (yes that was in reference to the huge contracts that are being earned in the pros) but in my personal opinion, the benefits you or your child receives from being actively involved in sports is second to none in the crucial developmental aspects of life.
*side note i really wanted to get into the whole concussion issue for football, without going into another 1,000 word rant on this i just highly encourage you to do your own research and form your own opinion, don’t just read articles published by media but instead do research….i will however share my quick opinion, CTE will be found in the brains of most Americans who have ever had head impacts. Do i think CTE is a direct correlation from playing football, Yes, but you can also get CTE from doing other everyday things and to stop your child from playing football because of a fear of CTE you better never let them ride a bike, or ride in a car either. Your child is highly unlikely to develop CTE from pee-wee football, as they get older, faster, stronger the chances increase, but again, CTE isn’t just from football its from head impacts. I may do another article soon giving my full opinion on the topic but this is a quick summary.