Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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November 10, 2013

SINGER: The decline of outdoors?


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Spring? Happiness came with the realization that winter was finally done, allowing one to take out one’s beat-up bike, grateful that it still worked, or throw up some hoops.

For young women back then there were outdoor pursuits I scarcely understood, such as jump rope, hopscotch, or jacks. In winter they sauntered forward on toothy white skates very different from mine. And was it all better?

Well, we’ve recently had scads of media enlightenment concerning the problem of youthful obesity, and a consequent increase in diabetes, cholesterol, and so on. Besides better diets, we keep hearing of the need for more frequent and sustained forms of exercise. There are campaigns galore on all this.

But it was easier for baby boomers like myself to get out and sweat, not only due to fewer diversions mentioned above; but also because we had many professional leaguers as role models, some akin to gods. And we were grateful for access to simple things — a bat, ball, and Rawlings glove, a basketball ring without netting, etc. In the Big Apple, there was hallowed stickball, where kids inspired by Mantle, Mays, or the Duke, argued incessantly about how many sewers one had gone beyond with a “hit” — primitive stuff compared to today, but prized as much as egg creams were.

Even if you didn’t engage in sports on certain days, home was basically to elude, and it was fun simply to be out with friends in the neighborhood, or maybe at a nearby convenience store for a 10-cent treat. There wasn’t an indoor “virtual world” to outdo the real one.

Now no amount of channels, apps, or computer games seems quite enough, and I’m not sure these myriad, push-button choices — truly inimical to exercise – are good for any age contingent.

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