Where are all the players these days?

by Kenny Eller on January 13, 2011

The school bell would ring, and like death and taxes, we would head to the CLC or local court to play hoops.   On weekends, guys would be lining the sides and baseline at 12th street just waiting for a game.  It was intense.  It’s where we grew up.

During holiday breaks and in the summer, the morning sun would rise up over the horizon signaling another series of games.  I would spend the morning on my parents’ house phone, confirming when my neighbors and friends would be able to come over and play basketball.  In the evenings, at least a couple of times a week, I would meet the normal crew up at the courts and play for hours.   We all loved playing basketball.  It was fun.  It was competitive.  It was what we did.

Between both of the above, my brother and I would play 1-on-1, game after game, or have shooting contests to see who would be the 3pt champion of the day.  Trash talk ensued.  Basketball was our breath.

Where is everyone?

Besides about two nights a week, I can drive by any of the various courts I live around and it looks like the aftermath of a going out of business sale.  Empty.

Where is everyone these days?

Too Many Options?

  • +250 cable channels.
  • Video Games.
  • Cell Phones.
  • Computers.

Of the four named, we did have a Nintendo, but the rest weren’t part of society when I was coming up as a kid.  Cable television consisted of a handful of channels, no one had a cell phone, and computers were the things you did simple programming on at school, for an assignment.

I got my first block cell phone while in my freshman year of college.  It was HUGE!   It was so big, my buddy Sam would ask me not to answer it if we were in the car and at a red light (not that anyone had the number but my parents…haha!). :-)

My parents got our first desktop computer around the same time.   In those days, hearing “You’ve Got Mail” was about as cool as it got and if you heard that you had a good day, haha!  There was no buddy lists full of friends, or facebook, or myspace, or twitter, or anything really.

Cable TV was cool, but you could go through all the channels forwards and backwards in about a minute.   Now you could spend an hour if you go through all the drop down menus and information that is displayed.

I feel like an old guy saying this (is 33 old??), but times were more simple and slower.  There just weren’t so many options.

The cream always rises, but what about the rest?

The cream of the crop kids are getting better and better at everything.   That has a lot to do with what’s available in other avenues as far as specialized training, well structured leagues and AAU ball all at a much younger age.

I don’t think many of us ever heard of AAU until later in our high school life.  Camps…well there just weren’t many.

So the best get better and the progression continues, but what about everyone else?   Where are the kids that just love to play basketball?  Where are the kids that may never play one second of college ball?

Does it now come down to basketball or Call of Duty (great game btw)?   Updating your status and tweeting or getting in shots?

Has the “average” player stopped dreaming?   Have the endless options persuaded kids to go with the thing they are best at first?

What are your thoughts?  Where are all the players these days?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Kerkvliet January 13, 2011 at 8:23 am

Good Post Kenny – as soon as I saw the title of this article, I listed off some of the items you have listed. There are more teens that know the correct angle to position a hand on a video game controller than know about elbow angle when shooting a free throw. The video game gives quicker results to experience success with less effort required.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

Thanks Jim! I agree with you. Growing up, I used to play for hours and sometimes get one shot in a whole game. I wasn’t good enough to shoot more then, but I would hussle and play D and do my very best. I loved the game.

There is no doubt you can increase your Call of Duty player ranking quicker than you can your player ranking at any local court. Very sad, that perhaps the easy route has become the path of choice at an even younger age than usual.

Thanks for the comment!


Karol Gajda January 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

Man, this brought me back. Although in my neighborhood we would link up and play hockey, basketball, football, tennis and baseball all day, depending on weather and how many people we had. Maybe that’s why I was good at all of them, but not great at any of them. But it was a good time … and we’d be out soaking up every single minute of sunlight. Then we’d come home, play Nintendo, and watch our 32 cable channels. :)


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 11:45 am

Haha, it’s amazing that it “brings us back”…we are YOUNG…aren’t we?? :-/

Yep, your life, my life and anyone around our age lived about the same. It rocked! When I had that week off for vacation recently, and the kids were out of school for christmas break, I couldn’t find anyone to play against. Times have done some changing for sure.

Thanks for the comment!


Karol Gajda January 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

We’re young but things are evolving at warp speed now. Exciting to be able to have lived during both times. Nothing will ever be like it was, but that’s good. Things are outstanding now and I can’t even really imagine what things will be like in 10 or 20 years.

P.S. Remember pagers?! Had one of those senior year of high school pre-cell phone.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

Yeah, right about warp speed for sure. I agree, I like to have lived in both.

You had a pager? Haha, why??? The mental image is classic! 😀


Karol Gajda January 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

Pagers were $5/month so it was a way to get in touch with people who didn’t have cell phones, which was everybody. And then we’d have to use a pay phone or the phone at whoever’s house we were at to call the person who paged us. haha!


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Haha, wow! I’m glad I missed that stage! 😉 Only guys I knew that had pagers were at the courts on the weekends and well, they most likely weren’t waiting for a “friend” or family member to call…if ya know what I mean. :-)


Mark Powers January 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Interesting topic you bring up here, Kenny. I see the exact same thing in the music world. Gaming & TV consume so much of my students’ lives. Just after the holiday break last year, I asked a private lesson student of mine if he’d gotten a lot of practicing (drums) in during the time off from school. He grabbed his forehead and said, “aw, NO man . . . I was so busy the entire break.” A few minutes later, in the middle of his weekly warmup exercises, he excitedly had to tell me, “dude, me and my friends counted it up, and we got like 30 hours in on RockBand in the last two weeks!” Um . . . am I wrong, or does something not compute here?


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Yeah, seems like that is pretty typical these days. Like Jim brought up earlier, the gaming has a quicker rewards system than actually doing the real thing. Sad. :-(

It seems as thought a private lesson student would be more dedicated, but maybe he/she isn’t paying for the lesson?? Anyway, keep at it man. You’re making a difference!


dani January 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Haha what’s wrong with pagers!!? I thought I was so cool… 😉
anyways, great post and so true! I remember in middle school the “cool” thing to do on a saturday night was midnight bball at the ymca!


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Nothing wrong with pagers for you and Karol I guess haha, though when did you have a pager (elementary school) haha! 😀

Midnight basketball at the YMCA? Nice! Only midnight thing they offered for us growing up was skating:-/. I wanted to be Jordan not a roller skater:)


Charissa Eller January 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Well, I never played basketball, but I played tennis everyday, twice a day throughout most of my childhood. However, I don’t even pick up a racket now…interesting, huh?


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Yeah, I guess the only place you could find any competition might be leagues. I never see anyone decent playing tennis either.

Maybe we can get Karol to cover one half and me and my bro can cover the other half and give you a decent game. :-). I think I still have my federer gear around somewhere!


Dean January 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Maybe they are all gym rats (literally) – or maybe you need to take this study out to check up on other schools too, could just be a neighborhood thing.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller January 13, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Na, no gyms are open around here, so that’s not it. I’ve actually checked with others and it’s happening all over! Kids are not outside anymore:).

You ever see any courts always busy around you? The courts were always busy around here back in the day.

Thanks for the comment!


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