Gaming vs Sports?
Today’s E-Journal on gaming addresses questions we get asked quite a bit by parents and youth workers. We hope you will take a look at the articles and interview related to video games and help us continue to wrestle together toward helpful responses.
One issue that isn’t addressed in the Guys and Gaming article is whether there’s a gaming vs. sports competition at play. Some have argued that video games have largely taken the role of playing outdoors for boys, which may or may not be true (depends on the age, the boy, and the parents). But some have expressed even more concern that video games seem to have taken the place of sports in guys’ lives. Again, this may or may not be true, but here’s one observation via Leonard Sax in Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. Sax contends that save the few elite athletes who actually make it into high school sports teams, the majority of teen boys spend hours upon hours each week gaming (13 hours per week on average, according to Sax’s summary of several studies) because they don’t have opportunities to play sports. ((Leonard Sax, Boys Adrift (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 58.))
By the time most kids get to middle school, the best athletes have already been singled out for stardom. But especially by high school, if you’re not already a proven member of the athletic elite, you have no chance of playing on a team. The superstars are shuttled from school team to club team and then on to the next sport in their multi-athlete portfolio, while the rest of the guys (this is true for girl athletes, too) are left to either sulk in the humiliation of not making the draft…or go home and win at video games. Sure, we could argue that guys with initiative could find a place to play in the neighborhood (and many still do), but there’s at least some truth to the way hyper-competition edges out the average athlete by high school—and sometimes even before middle school.
What have you seen in your own community? What do you think is going on in the gaming/sports dynamic for guys?
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