It’s alarming – the little amount kids nowadays spend playing outdoor sports.
I have never been an ace athlete, but have always been heavily involved in outdoor sports – cricket, football, rowing, volleyball, tennis – name it and I’ve played it. I have few tangible achievements to show for it in the form of a few certificates and medals. But what I’ve gained from hours spent playing on grounds, roads, terraces, garages and the most unlikeliest of places transcends any tangible honour I could have received without taking up a sport as my profession.
Sports is a way of life! It teaches you things that your parents cannot, the society cannot and certainly things that the education system cannot dream of inculcating into young minds. It builds character, instills values in one and is a microcosm of life in general – where you face hurdles, fail, succeed, laugh, cry and share. Things you can pay a ‘self-help’ coach – shrinks are diversifying their market outreach – to try and teach you but fail miserably (‘self-help’ is a myth; if its ‘self-help’, you basically didn’t need help. Thanks, George Carlin).
But with the urban social setting rapidly changing – nuclear families, DINK, home delivery, apps for everything, and vitual marketplaces – growing up is very different from what it was in the late 90s and early 2000s. The concept of ‘locality’ is disappearing with the changing real estate landscape. Parents don’t have time to take their kids to parks or grounds anymore. Kids don’t have time to go to park or grounds anymore. Are there any parks or grounds anymore?? Overly ambitious parents are instilling focus and ambition in kids from a very young age. A Chinese-like focus towards a preconceived future career trajectory has almost annihilated the existence of sports as a hobby.
Parents do understand the importance sports, and interaction with people in a setting of sports, holds in the lives of young people. But what can they do about it? Where’s the app for that? Enter my favourite character, capitalism personified, Mr. Marketer. Sports as a medium of learning and therapy is a growing industry and being included in school curriculum’s heavily. Scientific and methodical and structured learning mechanisms are being developed and implemented – I cringe!! It’s not a hobby if it’s in the curriculum, simple as that. But while it might not be the ideal, organic learning that sports is meant to provide, it is learning all right! An industry is born out of a necessity. And it is providing a services that is indispensable towards maintaining normalcy in the virtual bubble of a world we are moving towards. An effort towards upholding the values of simpler times when even fat kids who sucked at sports played with their friends and learnt so much!