The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Wednesday April 22, 2015
Some thoughts on youth participation in sports and video games. With a coda from a sports guru, 80s pop star Huey Lewis.
All in good fun
Although reports vary, studies show that Americans (and American males in particular) are playing more video games than ever. This isn’t surprising considering how huge of an industry it is. And, admittedly, how much cooler and more varied games have become. Statistics say that Americans spend an average of just over six hours a week playing video games, while a recent book claims that the number doubles for the average American male. This seems more accurate to me.
I’m a fan of relaxation and of having fun. Video games are a perfectly legitimate way to spend free time. It’s more satisfying if you do other things to earn that free time, whether working or creating or whatever, but that’s another story for another time.
The problem arises when gaming takes over a person’s life. This is true of any pastime, though. Many people spend hours a day sitting in front of the TV watching sports, pouring over their job, or doing any leisure activity that is meant for occasional consumption rather than revolving one’s life around.
Sports, sports, sports
Reports do not vary on the topic of youth participation in sports, however. The numbers are down and get lower every year.
There are many reasons for this. The main one that I see, though, is that kids have gotten lazier. It’s not just video games; in fact, it isn’t that predominately, although that’s a symptom. More detrimentally, nine times out of then they’d rather sit on the iPad that has been their babysitter their whole lives than get out and do something. They’d rather sit on the couch with a soda and watch football than actually play a sports. It’s a sad trend.
What can we do about it? Like with most things it starts with the individual. Ambition is a difficult thing but the more you have, and the more you get done, the better your life will be. You can choose to put the phone down. You can choose to go out and do something.
Another big problem is parenting. Parents need to encourage their kids to live balanced lives, lives that can include playing video games, watching sports, playing sports, and any other leisure activity, but should not be dominated by them.
After all, today’s kids are tomorrow’s world leaders. As scary of a thought as that is sometimes.
Words about sports from an expert
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.