Angry Birds in the Field of Dreams

Baseball, as you probably know, is our national sport in the United States. Its influence can be seen in both popular culture (movies such as Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams) and in the recreational (sporting; games) choices of Americans themselves. When I was growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, not only did children play baseball and softball (a type of baseball that uses a larger, softer ball), but adults did, too.  Nearly every large company or community organization had a softball team, and many had leagues (a group of teams that play each other frequently).  Team sports were part of adult culture, in the summertime especially.  Playing on a team was something you would do in your free time that connected you to your neighborhood and community.

Now, it seems, things have changed.  According to a recent article, the number of these amateur (not professional) sport teams has declined (decreased) dramatically (a large amount) in Minnesota and around the country (in the entire U.S.).  The number of adult softball teams is down (has declined) by more than 50% since the early 1990s.  Basketball teams are down 75%, and other team sports have experienced similar drops (declines).  What happened?

Some attribute (explain; give as the reason) the change to the way Americans are less “connected” to each other. Most people don’t know 15 other adults who’d want to form (start) a sports team together (I know I don’t).  For many, it’s just easier to jog or bike, activities that don’t require a group of people. People work more than the traditional 40 hours each week nowadays, some say, and so they don’t have time for playing on teams.

But part of the answer can also be found on your cellphone.  Video and cellphone games such as Angry Birds have started to replace physical sports as a relaxing pastime for younger adults. The amount of time adults spend on gaming (playing video games) has gone up at the same time team sports have gone down. It seems that many of us would rather kill imaginary birds than play in the real world.


Photo credit: Angry Birds Promotional Artwork, Wikipedia Fair Use

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19 Responses to Angry Birds in the Field of Dreams

  1. DG says:

    Same thing here in Brazil happens when it comes to soccer.
    But no way we would stop loving soccer, our children keep that alive.
    Brazil 2014 ( FIFA world cup )

  2. John says:

    I too believe that video games, the internet and technology in general have had a great impact on our social lives.
    As you mentioned, I totally agree with the idea that people rather do things where they don’t have to rely on other people (e.g. jogging, biking).
    Also online video games and other technologies that allow you to interact with other persons in real time, have the ability to convey some kind of social warmth that (I believe) everyone is looking for. The upside of this is, that even after a long workday you can talk and play with your friends or other people without stepping a foot outside of your house.
    The downside of course is, that people are more prone to become overweight and even obese, since they exercise less than would be necessary, to keep their bodies healthy.
    I think the best solution would be a mixture of both, that is, don’t just go for one or the other.

    As always, thank you Jeff for this interesting article.

    p.s. Sometimes I wish I could play in a soccer team, but that’s impossible due to many reasons……….but then again, what’s better
    than sitting on the couch with some ice cold cans of coke, popcorn/chips, watching FC Barcelona vs Manchester United on tv? 😀

  3. Peter says:

    Dear Jeff ,
    Don’t underestimate the effect of imigration on the recreational activities at large.
    I mean ,I for one believe that the diversity is the one to blame.
    In the countries like The USA and Canada that are made up people of different cultures and ethnicities is not easy to form such groups simply because people
    don’t share similar interests and hobbies.
    Consequently, You never able to make a hockey die-hard fan out of a guy from eastern Europe or The they can’t get you to watch a soccer match not mention to play one.
    Now,tell me in cosmopolitan cities like NewYork , LA or Toronto ,how on earth you wanna form a baseball team out of people in a given organization.
    It is a mission impossible
    Now,move a bit further down in Europe ,Africa,or Middle east you can form a soccer team on every corner in no time merely because people of similar
    ethnicity share similar traits.
    Long story short, I personally think the ongoing immigration wave plays a major role on the current sharp decline.
    Don’t you think Jeff,
    I called it as I saw it

  4. Peter says:

    I just wanna mention something else
    I am a sore looser:))
    And a taunting winner

  5. Ethan says:

    I used to play basketball w/ my friends when I was a teenager. But nowadays there’s literally no possible member around here in terms of schedule, physical condition, interest, etc. I sometimes miss those times.

    Anyway, I personally attribute the change to ESLPOD since it made me spend more of my time on studying English, which is obviously a solitary activity. 😉


  6. Betty says:

    Thank you so much, Jeff, for this nice topic which actually encourage me to think about people’s behavior in modern day life.

    It is sad that it seems that many of us would rather kill imaginary birds than play in the real world. It is much easier and cheaper to play your own cellphone games rather than organising a group of people to do some proper sports.

    Many people who enjoyed proper sports games when they are younger would want to continue to enjoy the games even when they have started working. But everyone is busy, people who say they can spend time with you are normally people who were not and are not active, and do not know how to pay your sport games properly. We gradually lose our games skill and resort to play with the cellphone instead.

    Having said that, I only played computer games a little bit more than 20 years ago, just to train my flexibility and to improve my keyboard skills. I don’t play computer games any more, no time.

    I do miss the fun and team spirit of proper sports games, though.

  7. Hilario says:

    SOCCER SOCIAL-NETTINGS: Soccer or British football, as all of you probably know, is our bread and circus as the romans said. Our national sport here in Spain and also in many European and worldwide countries. Well, same phenomenon as in the United States is happening down here, this side of the pond. When we were in our dear and wild childhood, one could play soccer in almost any time any where as long as someone had something of the most like kind of a ball. The match could start on, even not having the eleven members required by each team and of course, new players could incorporate to the game on the go by pairing the two teams, and by not having coaching neither referee, no tactics nor strategies just legs and heart, the contenders had keep it calm, fair play and strictly observe playing rules, otherwise soccer would turn into a boxing match sometimes. Now a days this free practice has been mostly forbidden almost any where, there´s not spontaneity any more and kids have to join soccer clubs and play under coach´s pressure or otherwise they have to book and pay for having their dream field, so most of them have ended up substitute the soccer field by their laptop screen and play it by video gaming on the distance.

  8. Myo ko ko says:

    I think this is happening across the globe!
    Not in such ativities, there are also in other areas.
    I am now sitting in front of the screen, instead of hanging out with my friends, of course! 🙂

  9. J. Henrique says:

    Unlike my fellow countryman DG I think in Brazil the situation is less severe than in USA. Except for the downtown of the big cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, etc… the childs in small cities, in the suburbs or in the shanty towns yet play together a lot on the streets, vacant lots or in the soccer fields. The problem is mostly in downtowns becouse of the violence of the big cities. Obvious as Jeff quoted an expansion of the video games in our lives have contributed a lot to our isolation as human beings and in Brazil we are feeling the effects too, it’s a worldwide trend.

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! I have not watched the movie “Field of dreams” a 1989 American drama-sports-fantasy film.
    I am not a gameplayer and I don’t know this famous game Angry Birds.
    I know a game called Hurt Birds.

    All the best for you all,


  11. emiliano says:

    In a big city like Madrid what Jeff said it has been the rule for long.
    Not sport teams, not children playing in the streets and so forth.

    From several years till this moment you can not find ever enough
    young adults to form a sport team. It is something like impossible.

    Children of my own childhood were always playing in the streets
    but after the eighties it was really difficult to find children
    that where playing football or similar sport games out from the

    Not only the “Angry Birds” or similar games but TV. watching
    was enough to cut off streets playing or adult sport teams as
    it was so common before the silly box was so popular.

    Years before people or families use to be together playing
    cards or table games inside or outside the houses, at the bars
    or in the gardens, but even this nice customs have been
    extinguished from our way of living….TV first, PC games, game
    consoles, the web, chats….and so forth.

    Progress has it costs for the best and for the worst, that´s the


    Thank you Jeff, sure you use to play a lot being young at
    your north Minnesota State.
    In summer of course……in winter I think it has to be
    a little difficult to be outdoors.


  12. sara says:

    Yes Dear emiliano, you are right and me too think exactly the same way. and really I am worry about the future of my 2 years old son who won’t enjoy the lots of pleasures that we had in our childhood.
    Dear Jeff as always thanks for sharing it with us.

  13. el comandant says:

    I’m not sure if that happens in Spain, my country. Nowadays many of teenagers and adults play team sports like football or football seven or football five (in spanish it’s called fútbol sala, because it plays in a small football field covered by a roof). Mostly of them play football but others play basketball, handball among others sports.

    When they are teenagers and are in school, they play in the team of their school, however, when they have grown and have left school they join together in a friends team to play in one of a many leagues there are around the sport centers.

    My two sons, 29 and 33 years old, are playing football five (fùtbol sala) every weekend with their friends. I prefer they are playing sport team than they are playing video games.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! You are right singing the Bee Gees song. Many times the ESLPOD team is:

    “You’re the light in our deepest, darkest hour,
    You’re our saviour…”

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! Yes! Steven Spilberg is a myth.
    Thank you for the explanations : breakthrough movie, the score, to open.

  16. Tania says:

    Hi! I have not known the medals from the U.S. : The Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Congressional Gold Star and The Medal of Honor.
    Thank you.

  17. Tania says:

    Hi! Odd, eccentric this festival “The Burning Man Festival” and awful in the middle of the desert.

  18. Tania says:

    Hi! No, I do not know this famous folk song “I’ve been working on the Railroad”.

  19. Ziba says:

    yes every things are changing, Jeff.

    I can see hear too. In the past we could see adults, teenagers and kids that were playing in a groups in any parks or in empty places near their house like allies or streets nearby.

    But now we can’t see them. I’m sure they are at their homes or in coffee nets in front of computers playing games or surfing the internet. Or maybe talking or playing on their mobiles.

    Nowadays even kids have mobiles and they spend their free times playing game on their mobiles. They don’t have enough physical activities and you know what will happen …

    This is the era of computer and mobile. So you can imagine what will happen in the future.

    Thank you, Jeff, the topic is very emportant to pay attention, because physical activities are the most important factors in our life especially our health.

    Ziba (Iran)

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