To the Editor:
The “old ball game” once played at public elementary schools has gone the way of the dodo bird.
In yesteryears, when this writer was in grade school, ball games were not scheduled. Players just knew there would be a ball game at noon. Teachers were not present — they went home for lunch. No parents present. No athletic trainers present. No grandstands. No cheerleaders. No metal bats, just wood with a lot of black tape. Some players had gloves. Close calls on the base paths, yes. But fights over “safe or out” did not occur. The players came to a quick decision because they only had so much time to play until the lunch hour was over and they didn’t want to waste playing time arguing. No won-lost records kept. No batting averages recorded. In fact, no records kept on anything relating to the game. No newspaper articles and photos in the weekly newspaper. Players of the game were not conditioned to expect approval or disapproval for their playing a game. It was their game. They had fun playing their game. Tomorrow they would have another game. Choose up sides, toss the bat to see who was up first. Today, the players have little or no input on anything related to the game. It has been taken over by “adults.” It is not their game!
Mortimer J. Adler in his book, Aristotle for Everybody (Difficult Thought Made Easy) writes about Aristotle’s thoughts on “Living and Living well.” Aristotle recognized the aimless and playful behavior of children: “We act aimlessly when we have no end in view, no purpose. But when we behave playfully, we do have an aim — pleasure, the fun we get out of the game or whatever it is we are playing. We have no ulterior purpose; that is purpose enough.”
The “old ball game” culture has been pushed aside. Children’s play has joined the extinction of the dodo bird! Does anyone care?
George J. Kuhn