We’ve passed the summer solstice, so the days will start getting shorter and shorter; but for school children, summer vacation is only two weeks old.
Yet, from the view outside my car windows on the way to work, you wouldn’t know vacation had started yet.
There used to be a time when newspapers put a warning in the paper each year, reminding adults that school was out so drivers needed to be more cautious. Children would be playing outside, and there was always the chance of someone running out in front of a car chasing a ball or toy.
Such a warning is unnecessary since kids don’t bother to go outside anymore.
I’m reminded of something my uncle said 12 or 13 years ago.
My dad and his brother Wayne were riding in Dad’s truck. Wayne was looking out the window and asked, “Where are all the kids? Remember how we used to stay outside all day long?”
They told me about working in the tobacco fields, then tossing around the old horsehide or getting up early to go hunting and fishing.
When I was on summer break, I would spend hours outside shooting hoops, riding my bike, practicing my pitching with an old tire staked out on the clay bank behind the basketball goal.
If I didn’t have anyone to throw me a baseball, I would practice my hitting by gathering up a bunch of small rocks and whacking them through the woods with an old axe handle.
I always had a dog of some variety around, so we could go hiking behind the house. It was cooler where the sun was blocked off.
But my uncle Wayne was right; kids just aren’t outside playing these days.
On my commute, I look around and it is like a scene from The Walking Dead. All the people hiding indoors from the zombies.
Or more likely, staying indoors to kill zombies. On their Xbox One or Playstation 4.
Kids don’t need to go outdoors to be entertained when there is a world of adventure at their fingertips, or thumb tips, depending on the controller configuration.
I saw an editorial from a videogame reviewer yesterday about sex in games. He said there should be nudity allowed in some games because the average gamer is now in his 30s, and developers should pander to the clientele.
Aside from eww factor, I was surprised by the average age, although I guess in retrospect I shouldn’t have been. The first Nintendo system is more than 20 years old, and all the kids who grew up with that NES are now 35-40 and many of them still play.
While games are fun — and I have played my fair share over the years — I also played plenty of basketball to stay in shape.
Many kids today don’t get any exercise at all. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.
Why did I work so hard on my jump shot when I was all by myself? So I could shoot better when I got around my friends.
What if you don’t have any P.E. time at school? If I never got to show off my improved skills at school, would I have spent as much time practicing at home? Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps someone can explain to me why we require high school students to have four years of English and three credits in math but only require half of one year in physical activity?
School is supposed to prepare students for the real world. Considering that some are calling childhood obesity “an epidemic” then perhaps getting in shape should also be something that schools condition into children.
Then I might see a few more kids at play on my drive.