We've been attending a lot of Little League games lately - with grandsons aged 8 and 10 I guess that's inevitable. But I've found one of the most interesting things at the games is the conversations among the adults about how different baseball is for our grandchildren.
When we were kids the boys spent all their free time playing sandlot ball. In the fall it was football. In the spring it was baseball. They would meet at the local ball field on Saturday mornings, or after school, and play for hours. They learned baseball inside and out, watching it - or more than likely listening to it on the radio - religiously. When we had recess at school, there was always a ball game involved for the boys.
For our children it was becoming less of an obsession. A changing society forced us to keep our children closer to home. Communities became more spread out (few children live in the village anymore where they can walk or bike to a ball field). And more options were presented. They began offering lacrosse and soccer for instance at school.
Now the world of baseball is even more removed from them. They have technology - computers, video games, tablets - to entertain them. Baseball is a slow game - no short attention spans there! Kids today don't know the game the way they used to. They need to be taught the fine points of where the play is and how to catch a grounder. They don't have the instincts that come with familiarity.
I'm not sure where "America's pastime" is headed, but it's certainly no longer in the sandlots and playgrounds of our neighborhoods.