Dear Athletic Support: I have been a sports fanatic my whole life. Football, basketball, baseball, golf, hockey — you name it and I’ve always loved the competition. When I was younger, I played all these sports. Now, I mainly just watch them from an athletic position on my couch! Playing for my high school team or even a pickup game with a few buddies was easy back in the day. I was fortunate that time, money (parents money), and finding a team was almost always available. But as I grow further away from the sports I’ve mentioned, I’ve noticed a change in the sports world. I’m hearing more about obscure sports like Esports (video games), disc golf, mixed martial arts, and many others. These “new” sports are easier on your body, generally cheaper, and take less time commitment than the ones I grew up with. They might even allow me to compete beyond my youth! I’d love to hear your take on this. Is it just a trend or are these sports already taking the place of the American favorites?
— New-Age Sports Fan Dear New-Age: You’re right. There are many more options in today’s sports world. Esports are so well-recognized that public schools now have leagues. Disc golf is huge in my hometown. We have three courses, and they are always packed. MMA? Yup. There’s big-time interest in that stuff around here, too. Jujitsu in little ol’ Russellville, Arkansas. Who would’ve thunk it?
But are these sports “taking the place of American favorites?”
Not by a longshot.
Like everything else these days, sports — especially youth sports — have become polarized. What I mean here is that there aren’t as many kids signing up for Little League baseball or peewee football, but the ones who do are diving in with both feet.
Don’t believe me? Then go back and read some of my previous columns. Young athletes (and their parents, especially their parents) are more fanatical about youth sports than ever. They specialize at outrageously young ages. They create social media accounts to help generate “hype.” and everyone — parents and kids alike — is way too focused on earning a college scholarship.
Sadly, there’s no changing it. Everyone wants to be a superstar these days. We live in a social-media driven society where “likes” are more important than real world results.
That’s why I think we’re seeing all these new sports pop up. Everyone’s looking for something they can be good at. and there’s nothing wrong with that. A kid who doesn’t like football shouldn’t be forced to play it. Let him go join the Esport team, or fling a disc around.
A multitude of options is a good thing.
But do I think the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association) World Championship will overtake the Super Bowl or the College Football National Championship anytime soon?