I recently received a note from a friend telling me that Notre Dame had just terminated its intramural tackle football league. It was the last college in the country to have one.
He had fond memories of putting on hand-me-down uniforms of famous varsity players. It was a way the kids in the halls bonded and developed a commitment to the university. To me, one of the saddest things about modern day life for the young and old, particularly men, is the lack of friendships.
As a kid, I played baseball in the park across the street and in Little League. I also looked for outdoor basketball games to play 3 on 3.
When we bought a home and moved to the suburbs, I fulfilled a childhood dream, putting in a cement basketball half court with a fiberglass backboard in our backyard. The Fogarty family, whose boys were Risa’s students, put it in. They were concrete contractors. Forty years later, I still stare out at it every day.
We used to have weekend games with local friends and acquaintances.
Playing sports ties people together. It can aid in developing lifelong relationships. My friend Jerry Levine and I played softball together for years in the Jewish Community Center league. Eventually our sons joined the team and pulled in their friends (see photo). For all of us it was a wonderful bonding experience.
When my sons came out to our home last week, they pulled me out on the basketball court to shoot hoops with them and my grandson, who was learning to shoot. I was reluctant to go because of bad knees, poor vision, and screwed up rotator cuff, but how could I refuse that kind of invitation.
Risa took Taekwondo for 23 years and became a 4th Degree Black Belt and world champion at 50. She still longs to do it at 72. Now she’s coaching my 7-year-old grandson as he acquires more and more sophistication. His father is teaching him how to work out and lift weights.
In today’s environment of TikTok and texting, developing in-person friendships is becoming a thing of the past. Team building is for the few who separate themselves, play on the elite teams, receive coaching and travel the tournament circuit. For the learner, the novice, the happy amateur, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to bond as they get older. I think it’s a pity.
Question: What in-person social activities do you enjoy doing or enjoyed doing in the past?