Video Games & Technology – The Demise of Backyard Ballgames

Growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I can always remember the pick up casino game development of strikeout, wiffle-ball, and home run derby. Everyday in the summer, my friends and I, at least 15 in number, would head out to the local ball field or open field, glove in hand and organize some type of game until the sun went down.

The friendships we formed lasted years, and the more we played, the better our skills developed for the sport. In this case, for my article, we will just touch on Baseball, my first true love.

During the early 80’s we had video games, such as PacMan, Donkey Kong and Pong to name a few. Sure, due to the technology of that era most of these games were not very graphic oriented and became boring to us in a short time span., so we still went outside and played the actual sport, learning, exercising and being an active adolescent.
We never heard the words, obese or couch potato. We were too busy sliding into second or hitting the long one and slapping high fives with our comrades. Ah! the good old days, before X-Box, Play station and Nintendo.

Let’s flash forward (No Technology Pun Intended) to more recent times. I currently coach a high school baseball team and it is more evident than at any other time that kids today just don’t play the backyard games of the past. It is prevalent in their skill level, their abilities and their plain knowledge of the game, in which this case is baseball. I always ask them, didn’t you learn that when you were younger, or didn’t you develop that skill playing strikeout? Guess what their response is? They respond with two answers. One, what is strikeout, and two, where can you buy the video game?

According to a national survey conducted by the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF), 92% of children and adolescents ages 2 -17 play video games. I understand some video games are very educational and some are beneficial to our society, but in the case of sports and my beloved baseball, it has demised and deteriorated the national past time and talent pool of our youth. You can’t learn how to hit better by playing a video game, nor can you develop the necessary agility and skill required to perform on a baseball diamond. Sitting in front of your television thumbing your way to the World Series won’t help your teammates on the field. Sure the graphics now are great, my nephews show me all the time how their Video system makes it look like real life, but who is benefiting in the long run. The $20 billion dollar a year industry, that’s who.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I love technology, when it benefits society, (In most cases it does) but in my opinion, Video Games and Technology have put an unfortunate end to a great era of backyard ball games and adolescent activities.

Nick Pezzuto or Coach Pezzu as his kids call him is a 16 year veteran baseball coach and a high school business and technology teacher. For more interesting and FREE articles, tips and advice on how to coach and play baseball, go to his website

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