I used to dread the dog days of summer because it meant the Little League World Series was going to be all over ESPN for a few weeks. However, the tournament has grown on me recently. Not because the emotional human-interest stories or the corny pep talks from the overbearing dad-coaches. But because it’s so refreshing to see adolescents dedicating themselves to playing America’s pastime rather than stuck behind an electronic device growing further isolated from the world.
Obviously not all kids are turning into little virtual warriors, there is still a plethora of little leagues and travel teams for just about every sport.
But a statistic brought up by ESPN Analyst Alex Rodriguez during last week’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast stopped me in my tracks. A-Rod pointed outthat more kids today are playing “e-sports” than physical sports.
I’m an imperfect messenger on this topic because I’m not a parent, so I have no room to hand out advice on how to raise kids. Also, I love playing video games and understand how addicting they can be. I played ‘Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside’ on N64 all the way through ‘NBA 2K19’ on Xbox One (I quit last year and still regularly get the itch to play). It’s a cheap substitute for the rush I yearn for from my playing days.
I’m not saying you should throw out your electronics. Video games are a fun and relaxing way to kill some time. They can calm you down after a stressful day and it’s a safe alternative compared to many other vices. Like everything in life it’s about moderation.
So I say all that just to gently remind youngsters that physical sports are so much more important for kids than any video game. Besides the obvious health benefits and social development, no accomplishment in the virtual world feels as good as an accomplishment in the real world. God blessed us with the ability to go outside and have fun, let’s not waste it on a computer program specifically engineered to keep you indoors for as long as possible.
Pat Benson has been a sideline reporter, P.A. announcer, and radio personality. Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr.