June 3, 2009

The young have been rejecting basketball, the old taking it up

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).

8 comments:

  1. When you talk about 'toys' or 'kids' you invariably talk only about boys' toys or young boys, understandable since you're relating it to your own childhood. But what about young girls? How have their toys been faring, how have their childhoods changed? Just a topic that I'm sure others are interested in seeing you cover too.

    My guess is that stuff marketed to young girls is more sexualized than it was before, even if older teens aren't as sexually active anymore.

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  2. I have no impression about how girls' toys are different from before.

    I did look into girls' sports like cheerleading, but the Stat Ab only has data for the past 3 years.

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  3. Not armand Assante6/3/09, 2:43 PM

    You sound like your knowledge of child psychology is based on watching too much leave it to beaver. Considering your irrational obsession with the good old days (which is the 80s for you) I may not be that far off.

    The internet not only provides entertainment but a far more versatile way for kids to talk through adolescence.

    Cheerleading is a girl's sport? Not only are there actual exclusively girl's sports teams but most high-school cheerleading squads are 5-25% male.

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  4. Hasn't basketball become a ghetto sport. According to Steve Sailer, Americans whites don't like to play it anymore and they are still the largest group in the U.S.

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  5. The internet not only provides entertainment but a far more versatile way for kids to talk through adolescence.

    Which is why I stated that IMing isn't that bad, but that texting was the problem.

    Read before speaking.

    but most high-school cheerleading squads are 5-25% male.

    25% -- are you crazy or stupid? Anyway, the data show that it's less than 10% -- about a whopping 5%. That certainly makes it not a girls' sport.

    Again, crazy or stupid -- the voting is open.

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  6. Thursday,

    Ive noticed the same thing you have.......notably basketball is so dominated by blacks on television that whites figure the sport "just isn't for them" and dont really get into it anymore. Whites still play football, baseball, and a few more have taken up soccer.


    One sees many white kids now taking up martial arts and weight training at fairly young ages.


    The internet and better video games probably provide alternatives to going outside in the winter months and shooting hoops in the driveway like we did back in the day.

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  7. notably basketball is so dominated by blacks on television that whites figure the sport "just isn't for them" and dont really get into it anymore. Whites still play football, baseball, and a few more have taken up soccer.

    Could be. But note, however, that the percentage of black players in the NFL isn't much lower than in the NBA. Perhaps it's because the NBA is a superstar-driven sport and almost all of the superstars are black, or because college football isn't quite as heavily black-dominated as college basketball.

    I would still imagine that indoor activities such as the Internet and gaming are bigger reasons for the decline in basketball playing than are racial factors.

    Peter

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  8. The kids (Vietnamese) who live across the street from me shoot the hoops everyday.

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