It’s a worrying trend that kids are playing sports less often. We’ve known for some time that children now are not as active as previous generations, and this is also true for society as a whole. We live a more sedentary life, eat worse food, and consequently are in worse shape and health than people two generations before us. It seems that sports have become a consumer package, and we are forgetting the simple joys of just playing a physical game.
The impact of video games
Two of the most popular video games of the last few years have been the NBA K games and Fifa Football. Every year, they bring out an updated version of the game, complete with updated team rosters. Apart from allowing you to play as a team vs. another, these games enable you to create and develop a player who also plays in a group.
For example, you can be the new Michael Jordan, Lebron James, or Giannis Antetokounmpo. Your character improves and develops the more you use them. And after many hours invested in the game, they acquire the stats and skills to dominate games, making you a star in this comprehensive, online, and very glittery made-up world.
Of course, this is not quite the same as putting in the hours on a basketball court and improving your real basketball skills. On a backyard basketball court, you can try some of the moves you saw in the game, but you won’t grow as a player. Children are merely finding the allure of sporting activities more fun when tied to the TV screen. They often don’t realize the equally or more rewarding experience of playing the real thing.
Would you let your young children play unaccompanied in the streets? There was a time when this was considered normal. However, the last two decades have exposed how dangerous the streets really are. We are now much more aware of the dangers our children face, even if they are with friends.
Communities that once provided reliable protection for our kids outside are much weaker in general. It is not unusual now to not know your neighbor; you are less likely to help and look out for each other.
Are there enough free facilities?
Cities have also seen fewer free facilities where children can play on proper courts or pitches. This went hand in hand with the explosion of gyms sprouting up in every city area. It’s becoming harder for kids to access free sporting grounds. They can be enrolled in sporting camps and programs, but these can be expensive.
Cities have tried to incorporate more green areas in their design, but these are not suitable for full-on sporting activities. It will be hard to set up a game of baseball or even soccer on these grounds. They are better utilized as places where people can jog or cycle, maybe play frisbee. If we want our children to be more active, we need to provide more accessible, cheaper, or free grounds where they can properly play the sport.
We might not be able to restore the tight communities of previous generations. These communities are now being formed in the digital landscape, so we might not be able to extract ourselves from our dependence on our gadgets. However, we can provide safe and accessible grounds where kids can enjoy the physical and social benefits of group sports.