I must say I don’t normally relate to columns written by Bill O’Reilly, but he got it spot on in this one. Don’t worry, it’s not even political in nature, but he sends a great message about “what’s the matter with kids today” to quote a song (from Bye, Bye Birdie).
So, in honor of baseball season, I had to share my thoughts about his thoughts.
His column starts out with:
“Hey, let’s go outside and play some baseball,” I said.
Outside? Are you kidding me? Inside, the two eight-year-old boys have Xbox, iPads, and personal computers at the ready. Outside?
o I dragged them down to the ball field.
“I need a helmet,” one wailed. “Where’s the helmets?”
“And what about a heart-guard,” the other one asked. “Mom says I have to get a heart-guard before I can play.”
“We’re just going to practice,” I replied. “No danger. Let’s just throw the ball around and hit a few.”
The boys looked confused.
“But we need helmets!”
Yeah, back in the day, there were no helmets or heart guards – just pure unadulterated playing. Our neighborhood game was kickball out in the street. No head gear, no guards of any kind, and certainly no helmets when we rode our bikes. I actually had a hard time learning how to balance my two-wheeler, so I can’t imagine what it would be like if my head was weighted down with a helmet, too. The only game I would admit could use some sort of protection was Dodge Ball – which I’m guessing is probably outlawed these days. Who would sanction kids throwing a big, round hard ball at someone – just for fun? And it was okay to get dirty, roll around in the grass and scrape knees. There wasn’t a lot of germ-a-phobic behavior – no hand sanitizer, for sure. But we all survived.
And it’s not even all about safety; it’s about desire, the excitement of playing outside until the last hint of daylight, when moms would have to scream from their screen doors to get us to come inside. Sure, we had the TV, but the distractions of today’s world seem to have won out over good, old fashioned play. And I guess that’s the point – it is old fashioned. But I still think kids are missing out …
And so does Bill …
The year was 1957 and two Central Nassau Little League teams were on the field. There were no helmets. No heart-guards. Just a dusty field with dirty bases and a coach who sat on a splintered bench, drinking beer. I was seven years old. Billy Weir was on the mound. I was at the plate. He threw, I swung the bat. The ball rocketed into left field. My first hit ever. I’ll never forget it.
I’m all for technology and all that goes with it, but sometimes the simple pleasures are lost in the name of progress.
In a related story, I read about a Miami performance artist who has an interactive installation called Erasey Page which lets you “destroy” the Internet. Why? She says, “I don’t know. Because you forgot what outside looks like?”
So, time to stop and smell the roses … and not the fakey ones on your computer screen – go for the real thing!