Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Beats All!

This is an example of one of those things that makes people my age feel like old fogies. Today on the radio I heard that the New York City schools are going to add "Double Dutch" to the official list of sanctioned sports in the high schools.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Double Dutch is a type of jumproping. In my long-ago youth, people did it for fun. There were all kinds of rhymes that were made up to help kids keep the rhythm of the two jumpropes that the participants had to keep jumping over.

Apparently in the 70's they added rules and point-scoring to what had once just been a fun thing to do on a summer day.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't think it will be a good sport for kids to play in school. But why does everything in America have to become a competitive sport? It's just one more thing kids will do in a regimented way, under certain rules, on a specific schedule. I guess there will be semi-finals and championship matches. There will be winners and losers. Hearts will be broken, kids will feel like misfits if they can't compete.

Making something a competitive sport doesn't mean it will result in more kids getting exercise. What happens is they get driven to the site where the sport takes place; parents must provide snacks for their kids and their friends to eat afterward; kids jump for a short period of time and then their round is over. It's not like the old days when a bunch of friends would gather in a seldom-used street and jump rope all afternoon just for the fun of it, and get real exercise.

When I was young, my friends and I used to go off in the woods for hours at a time and not come home until it was almost dark. No one worried about us. And we didn't even have cell phones back then to let anyone know where we were!

We played hopscotch in our driveways and jumped rope. We played baseball in the streets. Yes, we had gym class and played basketball and other sports. But when we were home we were also playing outdoors and getting much more exercise than we ever would have done as part of organized sports.

I guess organized sports are better than nothing. Kids don't go play outside by themselves anymore; too dangerous. And anyway, they'd rather be on their computers messaging their friends or playing games. So I understand why they added this "sport" to the physical education classes in schools. But it's sad that so many games are no longer just for fun.

Sigh...I know, I'm getting old.

On a more cheerful subject, we just got back from two nights in the Adirondacks - and we found a place! We're making an offer and as soon as I know if it's been accepted, I'll tell you all about it and post some pictures. I'm superstitious - don't want to jinx anything!

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend!


D.K. Raed said...

I remember doing that kind of jumproping. I didn't even know it had a name! We also used to do something similar with big long elastic bands. Two girls would anchor them (you could do more than one) around their legs (similar to the jumprope swingers). The jumper would attempt to do crazy chinese cat's cradle things with the elastic bands. Some designs were really hard. I have no idea what this was called either. All I know is it was fun & not structured & no one worried about us winning or losing or anything bad happening to us. We used to ride bikes everywhere & walk all over town & (gulp) even talk to strangers!

Good luck on the Adirondacks thing. Now's a good time to buy, but it sure sucks if you have to sell.

FreakyNick said...

I just glad that beach volleyball become a serious sport.

I can never keep track of the game, but I sure like to watch them play. The female team uniforms deserve some type if ingenuity award, it helps keep many enthusiasts tuned in to the game.

Yeah, I'm a pig.

the Adirondacks sounds great.

Comrade Kevin said...

I'm glad I wasn't held to a strict, regimented schedule when I was a kid.

Growing up in what was then a small town, one had to entertain oneself and the woods were certainly inviting.

Count me as one child without nature deficit disorder.

Sue J said...

So many of the games we used to play in elementary school aren't even allowed anymore. Most schools don't allow dodge ball, or even "Red Rover." So I'm glad to see that at least some the games from our childhoods are still "acceptable"!

Mary Ellen said...

I was just commenting to my husband that I never see any kids outside playing. Here it is, the middle of summer vacation and not one child could be seen. My house, btw, is within one block of a grade school and two blocks of a middle school, so I know there are kids living in this neighborhood! Oh, and I forgot to mention...I can't tell you how many houses around here have swimming pools in the backyard, all of them empty of children, just clear blue water without a splash to be seen.

Like you, when it was summer vacation, we were outside all day. We played baseball in the street or any empty field we could find, and we made forts made out of whatever extra wood we could find laying around. Hopscotch, jumping rope, roller skating on the sidewalks...that was a given on a summer day.

Now, like you said, the kids have to be gathered into little herds and made to compete against each time for lasting friendships, just a "team" that they meet up with on designated days for practice and play.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I wish everything didn't have to be competitive too.

I did actually see some boys playing ball in their yard this evening. It was like revisiting my past.

Anonymous said...

They sanctioned double dutch because all it takes is a rope.
Cheap bastards.

Jess Wundrun said...

Kids today are just as safe playing outside as they were in the fifties sixties and seventies.

Child abductions occur but they are for the most part done by someone the child knows, usually a parent.

There is stranger danger but we've given up way too much in exchange.

(My kids get kicked outside ALOT)

Randal Graves said...

I'm always kicking my damn kids outside.

"Hey kids, our dumbass neighbor is being ridiculous. Go make lots of noise."

Anonymous said...

I guess organized sports are better than nothing. Kids don't go play outside by themselves anymore; too dangerous. And anyway, they'd rather be on their computers messaging their friends or playing games.

Oh I don't know about that MG. Lately, my kids are outside more than they are in. Granted, they're not engaged in the same activities I did as a kid. I grew up in the New York City where we played games like skelsies, punchball, stickball, ringolevio and hot-peas-and-butter. But I'm glad they're outside engaging kids their own age in ways that don't involve technology.

On the Adirondacks place, I hope everything works out for you. I'll be headed up there next week (Lake George) for some r&r with the fam. Nice post. You just gave me a new idea.

kuanyin333 said...

Oh, I loved the good ol days too! Kick the can, jump rock, jacks, and never coming home until late at night and the parents never worried about you! Those days are gone! Sad!

Mauigirl said...

D.K., that thing with the elastic bands sounds familiar but I can't remember how it was done.

Nick, I'm happy for you and all the other guys who are enjoying beach volleyball! Actually volleyball was one of the few gym sports I actually liked. But I have to admit I never did it on the beach in a skimpy outfit!

Kevin, me too - I was very lucky to live out in the country for about 5 years of my childhood. It's wonderful to have contact with nature.

Sue J, I see what you mean. Everything is so politically correct now. I wonder why they don't allow Red Rover though? Dodgeball could get nasty but Red Rover?

Mary Ellen, exactly - that is what I see as well; no kids in the streets or outdoors. I'm sure there are some families whose kids do play outside but there is definitely a big change overall.

Ruth, I'm glad you have seen boys outside playing. I guess it isn't gone completely.

Karen, you have a point! Jumpropes ARE cheap. It usually all comes down to money I guess.

Jess, glad your kids do get outside. And you are right, the perception of danger is all it is; and it's the result of the 24/7 news stations we have now so that everyone knows when one child in, say, Utah, gets abducted and it becomes a huge story. In the old days no one would have heard about it and no one would have worried it would happen to their own kids.

Randal, glad your kids go outside too - and I love your way of getting back at your neighbor!

Spartacus, of course you're right, there are many kids who do still play outside - glad yours are among them! But overall I do think there has been a significant decline in spontaneous play outdoors. I'm glad it's not universal though!

Kuanyin, my friends and I had an absolute obsession with hopscotch one summer. We did it by the hour. I was happy to see a hopscotch board drawn in chalk in front of our neighbor's house in the street one day. (Couldn't resist hopping on it!). So it still happens, just ot as frequently I guess.

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes about the place in the Adirondacks. We've put in an offer and are waiting to hear if it's accepted! Will keep you posted!

Christopher said...

Why would anyone leave critical comments about this?

I think anything that gets kids off their asses and moving is great.

Childhood obesity, diabetes and asthma are on the rise as kids today are getting fatter and becoming more sedentary.

I think Double Dutch is perfect for funds-short schools. Plus, you don't have to be some sort of gifted athlete to participate.

Anonymous said...

Everybody lost when the world in general started to be perceived as dangerous. It's sad, and stunting for kids, when parents are afraid to let them out unsupervised. It's also a shame when people in general, especially the elderly, are afraid to venture out or feel they have to avoid certain parts of town. Fear is an auto-immune disease of society.

Mauigirl said...

Hi Christopher, I guess I'm seeing it differently - it's not that I object to having this as a sport in school. It's the idea that all of kids' activities have to be regimented and monitored and made into a competition. Actually I probably would have liked having it as a sport in my own school growing up - but only if they left out basketball, which I hated! (I was under 5 feet tall all through high school and have barely attained 5 feet in adulthood).

Glenn, you're right, everyone is overly afraid...and again I blame the media for that. They love to scare us, it makes good stories and makes ratings higher.

Odessa said...

i agree. having rules and structure takes away the spontaneity of it all. when i first came to the US about 5 years ago, i was shocked that kids here have organized play dates. back home, back home kids would just get together anytime they feel like it, play to their hearts content and come back home when they're hungry and play more.

DivaJood said...

Could never master double dutch - no coordination, really. But we played outside so much growing up - hopscotch, hide and seek, dodge ball, street baseball - we climbed trees, rode bikes, just were unstructured and free as birds. I wasn't far from Lake Michigan, so I was at the beach a lot too - in the days before SPF anything, so I got burnt a lot.

Kids are over scheduled and it troubles me a lot.

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