My Blog

Families lost everything during the 1930’s Depression. Children were lucky to be fed, let alone get new shoes or a new set of clothes. They were forced to be resilient enough to fend for themselves. They grew up to be what we now refer to as the “greatest generation ever.” These kids grew up to be the adults that fought and won the Second World War. What are our kids growing up to be? They spend all day inside playing with their devices. We spoil them so much, they can’t do anything on their own. Can your child change the tire on the car you gave them?
Last month my high school honored my senior-year team for our 9-0 record by having a forty-year reunion. Our team was honored by being introduced on the field at a game’s halftime. That was the first high-school game I’ve attended since the day I walked off the field forty years ago. I was appalled at the difference in the game and players over time, and it had little to do with my age.
The first thing to surprise me was the sparseness of the crowd. The stands were empty for a game against an inner-city rival. All our players agreed. We packed the stands. I was also shocked by the inflatable helmet the team ran out of while running out onto a field of new Astro turf which was nicer than any of the turfs I played on in Big Ten schools like Ohio State, Michigan, and certainly the shit we played on while visiting Madison Wisconsin. The first thing we did my senior year in high school was lay the sod for the football field. We didn’t have inflatable helmets to jog through before each game.
I watched the pummeling of my old school’s team with disgust, and this isn’t an older generation looking down at a younger generation. I played and coached organized sports for most of my life, and I can recognize players that love to play and win. The players I saw that Friday night had no team spirit, or enthusiasm. They didn’t even seem to want to be out there. I didn’t see a single hit or tackle that made me cringe or think, “Oh that must have hurt.” These players were too weak and small to represent any physical danger to each other. I wasn’t surprised to hear that that my team was the last one to win a league championship for our school. People are going to hate this, but I blame my generation for our kid’s lack of will and athleticism. Kids today are too interested in solitary play inside their rooms. Parents don’t force their kids outside to play from dawn to dusk the way my parents did. Kids today sit around all day under the watchful eyes of mommy. I loathed spending a fair-weather day inside. In the summer, we were on the baseball diamond. The fall was in someone’s backyard playing football. The winter was spent building snow forts or in snowball fights, even playing hockey. My point is; we spent the days outside building our athleticism and desire to compete. We didn’t get “participation” awards. Nowadays, moms worry about injuries, concussions, or an environment that might destroy a child’s future. Mom’s watch too much TV shows or read magazine articles where child psychologists tell them what’s best for their child. Children are coddled and protected so much, they never build the resilience to do anything for themselves. They’re lost without direction, and have no confidence or motivation to do anything beyond their comfort zones. They don’t seem to have any pride in their accomplishments or shame in losing.
In short, I doubt pushing a group of old men out onto a football field inspired shit, except for a few snickers of pity from the crowd. Oh well, I suppose I’m realizing the same worries every generation has about the next. On the positive side, there won’t be an eightieth reunion of our football team. If there is, I ain’t going.