If you grew up at the tail end of the Baby Boomer Generation as I did, you probably remember sports being a little more disorganized. A group of neighborhood kids would get a game together, then spend the next couple hours knocking the ball, and sometimes each other, around the local playground. Not anymore. These days, it seems like kids are only allowed to participate in adult-sanctioned, adult-supervised, fully-padded sports activities. The little tykes have to be wrapped up tight in bubble wrap, looking like Randy in his snowsuit, before they are even allowed to play a game of four square. When was the last time you saw a bunch of kids playing a game of fast-pitch off a school wall? About 1972?
Nowadays, it seems like every minute of a kid’s day is scheduled and organized. And not just sports activities. The parents are in charge of getting their local gang of rugrats from Point A to Point B, and back again. Whatever happened to riding your bike up to the playground for a game of kickball, or God Forbid dodgeball? Now, there are all sorts of official leagues, with rules and uniforms. Are you kidding me? A couple of years ago when Pokemon Go was the big thing, parents everywhere collapsed in shock when little Ethan and Tristan actually went outside in search of Pikachu and his friends.
When my son Kevin was growing up, he played in a number of roller hockey leagues. However, he refined his skills in our little elbow shaped cul-de-sac that became known as Hockeytown North. Countless games of street hockey were played out on the cracked and uneven cement in front of our house. Over the years, there were plenty of skinned knees, sore elbows, and broken sticks to go around. Now THAT’S how a kid is supposed to grow up! The neighborhood moms knew the score as well. I’m sure they all said a silent prayer whenever their kid headed down to the Lambert house for a game of street hockey. Praying for their little Timmy to return home with all of his teeth in his head. Maybe we need a little more of that and less bubble wrap.
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