As a follow-up to yesterday's post on the decline of biking, here are similar data from the same source about the popularity of playing basketball. My impression was that young people don't play it much anymore -- at least not by shooting hoops in your friend's driveway. In fact, it's not just that I don't see kids doing this anymore -- I don't even see many nets in people's driveways or attached above the garage door.
Here are the percent of people playing basketball across all ages, and then by smaller age groups:
Just as I thought, basketball has been declining among kids for awhile now (the mid-'90s), although it's holding pretty steady among 18 to 44 year-olds. The only age groups who are getting more and more into it are the middle-aged and beyond.
Again, what the hell are kids these days doing for fun? I don't really care about kids getting exercise -- they bounce around enough as it is. But shooting hoops with your friend in the driveway provided a pretext for getting together, shooting the bull, and trying to learn and teach each other social lessons: "dude, there's this girl i think i like" -- "no way! dude, here's what you do..."
Revealing personal stuff when you're a kid or teenager is about as appealing as vomiting on yourself during Show and Tell. There has to be some larger bull session that it's embedded within -- then it's just a sidebar to the main thread of what a dickwad your Spanish teacher is. It's not so hard to re-create this dynamic in instant messenger, but it's pretty tough via texting because the pace is so much slower -- you can't just zip quickly off on the personal tangent and then get right back to the bull.
And of course, it didn't have to be basketball: you could have been tossing the football around in the front or back yard, or -- alert the helicopter parents! -- even in the street. Or playing video games, which now you would do at a distance by playing via an online network. Or going out to hunt mastodons together. Whatever. You can't help each other through the perplexing and unforgivable period of adolescence if you aren't interacting face-to-face, or close enough to it (like chatting on the phone).